Allison Lawrence is not one to shy away from a challenge.
During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic — a test for companies around the world — she served as Stanley Black & Decker’s first Chief of Staff to the CEO, Jim Loree. While helping the company navigate unprecedented challenges, she also co-led the company’s Vaccine Task Force, working tirelessly to help keep the extended Stanley Black & Decker family safe and ensure access to vaccines and related critical information around the world. Today, she is president of BLACK+DECKER, and represents what’s possible when women lead and are #EqualEverywhere.
“It’s hard, but adversity makes us stronger,” she says. “Don’t give up and don’t look back because there are people looking to you to blaze a trail for them. You can learn something from every role you take and experience you have. Tough times pass but leave us stronger.”
Maintaining resilience in the corporate world
Reflecting on how she has been able to stay resilient in the face of hurdles, Allison credits character, curiosity, and community as her formula for success.
“To be resilient when there’s a lot of pressure, adversity, and change in the workplace, we need to stay true to who we are and not deviate from our value set,” Allison says. “Staying rooted to who we are authentically is really important in building resilience.”
Her promotion in early 2022 brought Allison back to where it all began — to her roots, in a way — when she rejoined the BLACK+DECKER team, where she started her career in sales nearly two decades ago. While she loved the company and the professional opportunities it presented, she recalls often feeling uncomfortable in those first days as a woman in a male-dominated industry.
“Coming into this organization, 18 years ago, fresh off of a college campus, I stood out,” she says. “At the time, the majority of my colleagues came from very different backgrounds than I did, and customers in the power tool industry didn’t look like me either. To fast forward to this current era of our company, where we uphold a strong culture of true diversity, equity, and inclusion — it’s mind-blowing the shift we’ve made.”
Grateful to have stayed the course professionally, Allison is thrilled to step into this new role and serve as a steward of this global brand. In her new role as President, Allison is leading the charge to transform BLACK+DECKER from a traditional do-it-yourself and appliance brand to a lifestyle brand while she personally is continuing to learn, evolve, and rise to new challenges and raise the bar for others.
Optimism about future leaders
Her resilience and determination to be a force for good aren’t limited to the workplace. In addition to serving as a board member of Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, Allison proudly serves on the board of A Better Chance, a nonprofit organization committed to helping well-educated young leaders of color achieve their leadership dreams. She’s inspired by their drive and courage, and she sees their potential to create change when they eventually fill positions of power.
“I have interviewed fourth graders in the ABC program who are beyond impressive,” Allison says. “They’re bright, poised, and focused. Seeing the pipeline of young leaders of color that are coming up, are not constrained by boundaries and are dreamers and visionaries — that motivates me.”
Her best advice
Allison hopes that the lessons she’s come to learn in her own life and career can help others persevere through adversity. They read like an #EqualEverywhere starter pack of sorts:
- Share your story. Be transparent. Invite people into your journey because there’s a lot of inspiration to be found and commonalities to be shared. Whether we like it or not, we are an example to someone. We are an inspiration to someone. We should be living with that in mind and sharing the story of our perils and trials as often as possible, so that others can learn from our experiences.
- Be a mentor. Typically, people are eager for mentors or role models. Look to mentor and bring those folks along on your journey, so they can learn from the struggle, learn from the wins, and perhaps not make those same missteps in their own leadership journey.
- Be brave out loud. It’s easy to shrink back when hard conversations come up in the workplace. In those moments, it’s important to take a courageous stand, be vocal and to inspire and help guide others. Often you give a voice to what someone not at the table isn’t able to say themselves.
Most importantly, Allison believes it’s crucial to remain engaged in order to build resilience. Taking inspiration from her days playing basketball in college, she says:
“You’ve got to get in the game … anytime you’re on the bench, you aren’t using your muscles. You can become static, maybe get a little stiff as a leader. In the sport, you become a good defender when you are on the floor. You become a good rebounder and scorer when you are on the floor. Proverbially speaking, as leaders in today’s world we need to ‘get on the floor.’ It is most beneficial to our own growth and to those around us to be an engaged leader both in business and within the community.”