By Erin Wooddell
When Daisy Maurya-Smith first moved back home to Chattanooga in 2006, she lived her life by an Excel spreadsheet. As a single mom to her son and a sales representative traveling up to 1,500 miles per week, the spreadsheet helped keep her life in order. From her son’s school and sporting activities to doctor’s appointments and her own travel schedule, she quickly learned the vital importance of being organized.
“I want to be an example to other moms. You can do it—you can have it all, you just have to prioritize,” she says.
Expanding Her View of Leadership
With a sales background in many nationwide territories—and across the globe—Daisy has had great exposure to many different leaders. She believes it’s important to recognize talents and strengths in other people, stating that leaders are only as good as the people around them.
“A good leader is aware of what they’re good at, where their strengths lie and what their weaknesses are. They don’t allow insecurity to guide their behavior,” she says.
She sees that some women face this challenge, despite the great strides for equality over the past few decades. She hears many women say they struggle to work in a man’s world, that being female holds them back and as a result they end up feeling insecure and are less supportive of their female counterparts.
“Not every man is a chauvinist. There’s a growing awareness for female partners and equality in the workforce,” she says. “Lead like a girl—say, ‘This is who I am.’ You are responsible for you.”
In her current role as Director of Physician Relations at Parkridge Medical Center, Daisy works on an all-female team and has found the environment to be pleasantly supportive. Each team member is able to relate to each other and bring different perspectives to the table, while understanding the need to find a balance.
Before coming to Parkridge, Daisy was greatly impacted by the leadership style of her past company’s VP of Sales, Butch Carter.
“He made such an impact with the way he related to people. He could be speaking to the head of cardiothoracic surgery at a major hospital or a local hospital, and either way, he was relatable to everyone,” she says. “When he walked away from an appointment, he made an impact on everyone he met, whether it was a client or someone he managed.”
His influence has inspired Daisy to practice making an impact in life, whether personally or professionally.
“It’s so important to step out of your shell of self-awareness and become aware of people around you. Make an impact—whether you give someone a hug, open a door, or acknowledge a stranger,” she says. “Everyone is the same. We all put our pants on the same way.”
Leading By Example
Though Daisy says she doesn’t see herself as a typical leader, she has taken great strides to lead by the principles she believes in. Years ago, while stationed with her ex-husband in Bavaria, Germany, she was in charge of the Soldier’s and Spouse’s Association bazaar. She had big ideas for the event and upon implementation, was able to bring in record-breaking levels of financial support—the most in the event’s history. Due to her success, she won the seat for the association’s president, and was the first-ever chief warrant officer’s wife to win that role.
She credits her success in that project to finding ways to motivate people who weren’t getting paid for a job or task. She discovered how to relate to them and what made them tick.
“Everyone needs to be needed, to have value and have that value acknowledged. It’s about general respect and interest,” she says.
The Importance of Personal Leadership
These experiences have shown Daisy that when it comes to leadership, there are multiple layers. Often, she thinks of leadership roles beginning inside the home. As a mom, it meant acknowledging and accepting responsibility for actions and practicing what she preached. She works hard to be authentic and accountable to her son.
“Showing up is what’s important,” she says. “If you make a mistake, take responsibility for it. People aren’t perfect. Mistakes provide the opportunity for growth. If you don’t fail, you never have that opportunity.”
Since Daisy joined Parkridge in 2014, her work travel has greatly decreased and she’s been able to spend more time in the Chattanooga community. Her involvement with groups like CWLI and the Kidney Foundation has helped her realize the great purpose and fulfillment she receives from volunteer work.
“I realized you can’t wear a title—it’s not who you are. You don’t live in it, it’s not your skin. Don’t get lost in that,” she advises.
As for her own career path? “Oh, I’m still trying to figure out what want to be when I grow up. I want to impact the community in a positive way and be purposeful.”
Director of Physician Relations, Parkridge Medical Center & Parkridge East Hospital
What is your favorite aspect of being a leader?
I don’t see myself as a leader, so to speak. I take on responsibility because I know I can follow through on the responsibility. Whether you have children or a career, life happens. You learn to prioritize and accept responsibility and you know you can follow through with things, regardless.
What advice do you have for women aspiring to be leaders in their field?
It’s important to recognize talents and strengths in other people. Leaders are only as good as the people around them.
Apply for experiences you think you may not be qualified for. Feel the fear and put yourself out there. If you only apply for positions you think you’d be successful at, you could be missing opportunity.
What does leadership mean to you?
Being centered, being aware of your own gifts and the gifts in others.
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
Butch Carter, the VP of Sales at my last job. He made such an impact with the way he related to people. When he walked away from an appointment, he made an impact on everyone he met, whether it was a client or someone he managed.
What do you see as the biggest challenges facing female leaders today?
1) Women could still be more supportive of female counterparts.
2) Women are still struggling with working in a man’s world. We don’t need a chip on our shoulders “because we’re female.” If you’re qualified, you’re qualified—regardless of gender.
Approximately how many years have you been involved with CWLI?
I’ve been a CWLI member for 2 years.
On which committees have you participated?
I’m part of the Leadership Luncheon committee and the IMPACT planning committee.
With what other community organizations/activities are you involved?
I’m on the Justice committee, the sub-committee for Healthy Sexuality, and part of the committees for Wine and Pearls and the Kidney Foundation.