Women’s leadership conference to include liberal arts alumna Binney Wietlisbach

This is the seventh in a series of eight Q&As with College of the Liberal Arts alumnae who will be participating in Penn State Women: Leaders of Today and Tomorrow. The event, scheduled for Oct. 25-26, will bring together leaders from the finance, technology and business fields for a panel discussion and one-on-one meetings with students from all majors across the University.

If there’s one quality Binney Wietlisbach thinks makes an essential leader, it’s perseverance. “Penn State taught me to never give up, and sometimes you need to fight through obstacles to reach your goals,” said the 1985 psychology alumna. Wietlisbach is president of The Haverford Trust Company, which provides investment management, trust and estate services, and retirement planning. The firm’s clients include individuals and multi-generational families, private foundations, nonprofits, endowments and more.

How have you been able to utilize your liberal arts background during your career?

I was a psychology major with an emphasis in statistics and religion. I still find myself using my psychology degree every day in my current role, where I manage more than 85 employees and a $6+ billion business. Determining the best way to communicate and work with different personalities and people with different values is a difficult challenge that would be even tougher if I didn’t have my diverse educational background from Penn State.

What activities did you participate in early in your career and/or as a student that helped prepare you for leadership?

I always felt like it was my responsibility to take on leadership roles – even for tasks that may seem small – and execute well in each of those roles. That really helped sharpen my focus and foster and attention to detail that I find critical in my leadership role.

Everyone knows you can’t “have it all.” How have your priorities shifted throughout the course of your career?

I think it’s important to realize that there are ebbs and flows in life, as there will be during the course of a career. You may not be able to “have it all,” but you can definitely have a very successful career while having a family and active social life. Early on before I was married and had children, I did a lot of extracurricular activities with colleagues from work. We volunteered in various charitable events, ran in corporate sponsored races, went to many a happy hour, and networked with other professionals often. As we got married and had children, we wanted to spend as much free time as possible with our families – and decided to scale back on those other activities because our priorities changed. Family became integrated into our social lives, spending a lot of time with other parents of children who were the same age as ours. Now we’ve come full circle since our children are grown, and we’re able to devote more time to those extracurricular activities. There were some tough decisions along the way about how best to balance work, family, and any other goals. However, it is absolutely possible to accomplish everything that’s important to you, as long as you’re able to understand what’s important to you may change over time. 

Media Contacts: 
Last Updated October 10, 2016