Utah State University Professor of Leadership Susan Madsen has been named one of Utah Business Magazine’s 2020 Women of the Year. Madsen is one of eight women from across the state of Utah to receive the award, which celebrate the women who have made an impact in largely male-dominated industries including government, healthcare, non-profits and technology.
Madsen, who is also the Founder and Director of the Utah Women & Leadership Project (UWLP) now based out of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, is a prolific writer and researcher, focusing her efforts on women’s leadership development. She is passionate about helping women establish a leadership identity and develop the confidence to lead, increasing awareness of leadership potential, and raising women’s leadership aspirations.
“I’ve spent the last 12 years researching women, education, and leadership in the state of Utah—how to strengthen the impact of Utah girls and women,” Madsen said as she was interviewed about the award. “I love helping girls and women find their voices, get confidence and learn how to speak out and become leaders. The research is very clear that when you have men and women working together in complex decision making, organizations are more creative and innovative, and things are better for businesses and communities. In fact, the research in those settings says that when men and women working together in leadership roles, better decisions are made overall. And that benefits everyone.”
Madsen created UWLP in 2009, and upon coming to USU in July as the Inaugural Karen Haight Huntsman Endowed Professor of Leadership in the Huntsman School of Business, she is now using USU Extension to be able to develop important state-wide Extension programming that facilitates women’s leadership development. The mission of UWLP is to strengthen the impact of Utah girls and women by producing relevant, trustworthy, and applicable research; creating and gathering valuable resources; and convening trainings and events that inform, inspire, and ignite growth and change for all Utahns.
“We have such amazing women here in Utah,” Madsen said. “And one of the things I often say is that so many women in Utah have no clue how amazing they are. They are very good at beating themselves up and thinking about their weaknesses. But not thinking about their strengths and their gifts and what they can bring to the world, inside their homes and beyond as well. One of my passions is to help women see their gifts and strengths and understand how they can use those to positively impact business, government, communities, and in any way they choose to influence and lead.”
Because education is a key factor in leadership success, Madsen created the Utah Women and Education Initiative and founded the Utah Women in Higher Education Network to help increase female college attendance and graduation rates and to provide professional development for women who work in higher education settings. Madsen encourages leaders to start with the young generation of girls and teens and help inspire them to become leaders.
“Let’s not just help women who want to be leaders,” she said. “But let’s start with young girls and teenagers and help them aspire to be leaders and aspire to use their voices. Aspire to have confidence so that they can really use their gifts, talents and strengths to influence people’s lives. To influence organizations and to influence our communities.”
To view the entire Utah Business Magazine’s award presentation, visit www.utahbusiness.com/2020-women-of-the-year-awards. For more information on Dr. Madsen, click HERE to view her detailed biography.
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Founding Director, Karen Haight Huntsman Endowed Professor of Leadership
Utah Women & Leadership Project, Jon M Huntsman School of Business, Extension