Since 1911, the United States has celebrated Women’s History Month – an annual month declared worldwide that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. This year the Salt Lake Chamber is honoring the extraordinary accomplishments, determination and tenacity of women. Against social convention and often legal restraints, women have created a legacy that expands the frontiers of possibility for generations to come.
Throughout the month of March, the Salt Lake Chamber will highlight women making a difference in Utah business and the local community.
The second feature of the month is: Theresa Foxley, CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah.
Below is the transcript from the video, please note slight edits have been made.
Theresa Foxley, CEO, Economic Development of Utah.
What role do you play within your organization?
As the CEO of the organization, I help set the strategic tone and strategic direction of EDCUtah by working with our board, our stakeholders, and our talented staff. Ultimately, I am responsible for executing on the organizations mission of bringing quality jobs and capital investment to the state.
What is your favorite part about working there?
I love working at EDCUtah and I’m coming into the role new because I am passionate about the mission. As I mentioned our mission is to bring quality jobs and capital investment to the state; to me that means, helping build a state that has a prosperous economy, and one one that allow all individuals in the state to have better opportunities to support themselves and their families.
What pivotal moment in your career led you to where you are today?
So I started out in the law. When I graduated law school I thought that within ten years, or at least my goal was, to be a partner at a national law firm. I loved the law firm where I started working and got a great start to my career there, but realized during the recession that I wanted to have a little bit more diverse background personally. So when an opportunity came up to work for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development in their corporate recruitment department, I jumped all over that.
That career move really set me off on a really amazing career journey, because from there I made connections that allowed me to work in-house for an expanding health IT company and then later led me to work as the deputy director of GOED, which then became my launch pad to my current role as the CEO of EDCUtah. Accepting that job very early on in my career and doing something that was interesting and rewarding, but not necessarily lucrative was really sort of the turning point in my career. Something I’ll always be grateful for.
What has been your most rewarding professional experience?
To date, I would say having worked at GOED has been my most rewarding career experience. One of things that I’m really proud of is during my tenure at GOED we had the most successful year in corporate recruitment ever, announcing nearly 10,000 jobs to be created by the companies that we worked with, and for me that’s really special and something that I’ll always cherish because it means more Utah families have opportunities to support themselves through the work that we did, and that feels really good to me.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?
I feel really fortunate, I’m the incoming CEO at EDCUtah and I think in a lot of ways have a blank slate coming into the organization. We have a great network of companies that we work with globally who would like to expand in the state. We sit on a treasure trove of data with those companies on what drives their expansion decisions. While EDCUtah has been a terrific marketing agent of the state. I would like to position EDCUtah as a thought leader on economic development, not only in Utah, but within the country on what communities can do to develop a product that’s attractive to both companies and talent. So that we great places and communities for decades to come.
In what ways are you involved with your local community?
Economic Development is really done on the local level. One of the things I enjoy about my role is that although we’re marketing the state, we work with local communities, eventually that’s where the rubber meets the road. One of the things I enjoy most about my job is to go work with local communities not only when they are preparing for economic development, but also as they work on current and active projects.
What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
I think it’s always important to pause and reflect on the accomplishments of a group of people, and also think about how we improve the situation for that group going forward. Women’s History Month is meaningful to me because I think it’s a great opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments women have made in law, politics, science, and business. And the way women have really had a profound impact on shaping the history of our society.
Why do you think Women’s History Month matters?
I think, again, Women’s History Month matters to me because it gives us a chance to think back on the accomplishments women have made, but also think about the ways we can improve the lives of women, not only in America but all across the globe. The social science and the date show that when we make an investments in women, we make investments in families. I think it was Margaret Thatcher who said that “there is no society, there are only men, women and families.” And so by investing in women, we therefore invest in families, and that turns into really productive outcomes for our entire human and global population.
What do you hope to see for the future of women?
One of the things I hope to see for the future of women is that women all over the globe have opportunities. I was fortunate enough to come from a family that was very stable. We had no food insecurity. I had great economic opportunities, great educational opportunities, and I realize I am really lucky in that way. As we continue to evolve as a society, I hope other women, regardless of socio-economic status, where they are born, or the scenario that they come in to this life, that they will have opportunities to provide for themselves and their families.
What do you see as the biggest challenges women face in the world today?
All women are going to have different life experiences. My life experience certainly is going to be different than the life experience of someone in the Rust Belt or somebody who is fleeing a war-torn country in the Middle East. But one of the biggest challenges I think we have in Utah and the United States is that women often times end up feeling a lot of pressure not to be a bread winner for their families but also take on more of the domestic responsibilities at home, which has lead to a lot of health issues. I think really what this boils down to is how we as a society support women through better access to childcare, so women can have both opportunities outside the home, but also feel their children are taken care of.
What motivates you?
I am really motivated by our organizations mission, which is to bring quality jobs and capital investment to the state of Utah. To me, the crux of that mission is prosperity, and bringing new opportunity to individuals who otherwise not be able to experience prosperity. As well as be provide for themselves and their families. So, creating new opportunities for individuals in our community is really big motivator for the work that we do. We have such a wonderful quality of life here in Utah, being able to preserve that quality of life through having quality economic opportunities to me is so important.
Who is your role model?
I’ve been fortunate to have several great role models and great mentors in my life. One role model that really stands out is my former boss, and current friend and mentor, Amy Rees Anderson. She was the CEO of Medaconnect Global. I was fortunate enough to work with her at the time that she sold that company. Being able to see maintain her integrity, focus on the things that matter, while still being a successful businessperson has really been a great example to me as to what it means to be a successful career woman.
What tip or pearl of wisdom would you share with other female professionals?
One of things I share when I’m asked that question in other scenarios, is to not only look for career opportunities that are lucrative but to look for career opportunities that are meaningful and will diversify your expertise. I was fortunate enough early on in my career to work for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and it certainly wasn’t the most lucrative career move that I made. But through that role I was able to learn and expand my skill set in such a great way, I really feel fulfilled by giving back to the community through public service. I would always encourage, both men and women, as they are looking at what their career opportunities might be to not only look for the most lucrative opportunities but those that are interesting, fulfilling and rewarding.
About Theresa Foxley
Foxley assumes the President/CEO role at EDCUtah after most recently serving as the Deputy Director of Corporate Recruitment and Business Services at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) where she oversaw all of the business development functions of incentives, government contracting, bonding and business resources. During her tenure, Foxley worked with dozens of companies on expansion and relocation projects, including Goldman Sachs, Vista Outdoors, Procter & Gamble, Solar City and Stadler Rail.
Prior to her time at GOED, Foxley served as a business and finance attorney with the Salt Lake office of Ballard Spahr, a law firm with 14 offices nationwide. At Ballard Spahr, she represented a diverse set of clients on corporate and financial matters including mergers and acquisitions. Ms. Foxley has also served as corporate counsel to a venture-funded company during its acquisition by, and integration with, a larger publicly traded company.