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Leadership Lunch with Sandy Doyle Ahern

Sandy Doyle Ahern. (Julia DeVore’22/Media)

After Adrian Jones’ moving words the week prior, many of us were eager to hear from the next leadership lunch speaker. On Thursday, November 21, Academy students piled into the Trustees Room to hear Sandy Doyle Ahern, who did not disappoint.

Ahern is the president at EMH&T, which is a civil engineering company right here in Columbus. She is also the mother of Academy high schoolers Sasha’20 and Aislinn’22.  Ahern discussed the important steps along her leadership path. Especially poignant was her assertion that one often doesn’t know that they are on a leadership path. For her, the key to success was taking leaps of faith. Her first internship happened because of such a leap.

One summer at Miami (OH) University, Ahern struck a strong relationship with a teacher, who offered her an internship. Ahern’s first inclination was not a resounding yes. But she opted to take that leap of faith.

She ended up loving that internship, which led to a job at a small company in which Ahern did what she loved. Yet another opportunity presented itself to her when EMH&T, a much larger company, asked her to work for them. The interview left Ahern feeling unsure, but she stuck to her mantra: she took a leap of faith. Ahern quickly found success there and rose the ranks to where she is now president. Ahern argued, however,  that the position of president made her no more of a leader than when she was an intern. To her, leadership is not due to position because anyone can be a leader. 

Ahern shared a touching piece of advice to our females. She told them to keep their confidence. Since Ahern works in a male-dominated field, she has had many a scenario in which she was outnumbered, and in these cases, she focused on keeping her confidence. Ahern wanted the girls listening to do the same.

Each person in that room came away with a new bit of advice, as well as a new perspective on leadership.

These leadership lunches have been fabulous so far, and I think that I speak for everyone when I say that they are a tradition that should continue for a long time.


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