LeadAR Alumni Spotlight: Gina Radke
Gina Radke, LeadAR Class 18, is the CEO of an aerospace design manufacturing company called Galley Support Innovations located in Sherwood. Radke has been married 20 years and is mom to three boys. She is recognized in her field as a successful business owner, entrepreneur, investor and economic influencer and uses her experience to uplift others.
Recently, Radke released her first book entitled More Than: How to be Bold and Balanced in Life and Business which chronicles her experience powerfully navigating a male-dominated corporate world. For Radke, empowerment is key.
Her passion for leadership and inspiring others is observed in her ability to connect with people on a personal level. She speaks to diverse audiences on topics such as business, entrepreneurship, women’s empowerment and work/life balance. We’ve asked Radke to reflect on her leadership journey and how her experiences inform her life and work today. We’ve shared her answers below.
What leadership roles or positions have you held/currently hold?
CEO of Galley Support Innovations, Trade Advisor to Congress, Commissioner for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Office of Skills Development Commissioner and President of the Arkansas Aerospace and Defense Alliance.
Why did you choose to be a part of the LeadAR program? What motivated you?
As part of my work as an International Trade Advisor to Congress, I wanted to learn about the Agriculture industry in Arkansas. Plus it came highly recommended by past participants--leaders that I respect.
How did you your LeadAR experience impact your professional life?
Honestly, it made me aware of the fact that I have been in a bubble as a business owner. I learned about so many different issues that other professionals deal with that I hadn’t been exposed to before.
What is a significant LeadAR memory or moment that you still think about today?
There are so many. Most memories involve the friends I made through the program and the things I learned about people that surprised me. We all have unconscious bias, and it’s good to have these biases proven wrong in a very real way. Learning from my intelligent classmates—classmates that may have had different accents than me or come from smaller towns—was among the most delightful memories I made during LeadAR. We had great conversations and I learned so much from them.
What advice would you give to an up and coming leader?
Find a mentor. Get a vision board. Read, watch or listen to motivating things daily. And of course, read my book More Than: How to be Bold and Balanced in Life and Business.
What leadership quality do you admire most in others?
The ability to take new information to heart, discern if it’s accurate and determine what changes need to be made as a result of the new information.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Probably not much. I tend to tell all of my business.
What is one crucial ingredient for true happiness?
How can leadership help move communities and the state of Arkansas forward?
By making the hard decisions and getting buy-in from those around you. Sometimes leaders have to make decisions that not everyone will be happy with, but that doesn’t mean we can’t move forward with respect for all involved. People will do so much more when they are treated with respect and gratitude.
Tell us about your recent book?
More Than covers topics that career women deal with on a daily basis--Mansplaining, Work/Life balance and Stereotyping.
What inspired you to write it?
I started to write a book for all entrepreneurs, as most of the entrepreneurs I mentor are male, but I couldn’t get past the things that I faced simply because of my sex. I didn’t have a female mentor coming up, so I wanted More Than to be that mentor for other women coming up.
What did you learn about yourself through the process of writing it?
1) I don’t like to write. 2) There were things that I faced that really caused me more damage than I wanted to admit. As I wrote I could feel the emotions of the situation rise to the top. So I put that emotion on the paper.
What do you hope readers learn or realize after reading your book?
For men, I hope they will see the little things that happen on a daily basis that cut down a women’s worth and undermine her leadership. I also hope men will see ways to be allies to the women in their work places and to recognize that More Than is not a “man-hating” book. For women, I hope they see that they are not alone and can use my tips and guidance to navigate tough situations. There are some pretty deep sections of my book that really call on the reader to reflect on their behavior and actions.
How can sharing stories/storytelling help improve the leadership landscape in Arkansas?
Sharing stories allows us to learn from others. It gives us an insight into someone else’s world.
What else do you want people to know?
The greatest attribute of LeadAR is the different types of people you will meet. I believe being open to learn about those different from you will make you, your family and your community a better place.