On this episode of Real Money, I’m thrilled to be joined by Punam Mathur, a speaker, trainer, and writer whom I’ve long admired. Formerly the Vice President of Employee & Community Engagement for NV Energy and the Senior VP of Corporate Diversity & Community Affairs for MGM Mirage, Punam is a powerful role model for women. Today, she runs her own business and serves as the Executive Director of the Elaine P. Wynn & Family Foundation, which focuses on promoting equity, civil rights, and conservation. In this episode, we’ll discuss how women can become champions of their own lives and communities, and Punam will share how she has used failures to achieve success. Don’t miss it!
From 2009-2012, she was an officer of NV Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NVE), a vertically-integrated statewide electric utility with 2,700 employees, serving as vice president of people resources and as vice president of employee and community engagement.
During her tenure, MGM MIRAGE received numerous awards in her areas of responsibility, including being ranked among the “Top 50 Companies for Diversity” by DiversityInc magazine, one of the “Top Corporations in the U.S.” for multicultural businesses by DiversityBusiness.com and as one of the “Most Admired Companies in America” by Fortune magazine.
Additionally, under her leadership, the Company’s philanthropy program, including its centerpiece employee-directed foundation, set new standards for strategic philanthropy and employee engagement within the gaming industry.
Community Involvement Mathur has received appointments to statewide leadership positions by Nevada’s last four Governors: Governor Brian Sandoval (R) appointed her to the Common Core Steering Committee in 2013 and to the Board of Jobs for America’s Graduates in 2014. Governor Jim Gibbons (R) appointed her to the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Education Reform in 2010. Governor Kenny Guinn (R) appointed her to the Commission on Tourism in 2002. Governor Bob Miller (D) appointed her to the Welfare Reform Task Force in 1994.
A champion and advocate for public education, she has a long history of involvement with the Clark County School District, the fifth largest district in the nation, having served on a lengthy list of committees and special task forces over the years.
Mathur was the founding board chair for Three Square, a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating hunger in southern Nevada. She has also served on the Board of the United Way of Southern Nevada for over two decades. She is also active in a number of organizations to improve the effectiveness of the foster care system.
Awards and Recognition she has received numerous awards including the inaugural Athena Award from the Nevada Women’s Chamber of Commerce (2004), induction into the Nevada Women’s Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Hall of Fame (2005), “Humanitarian of the Year” by Junior League (2012), “Achievement Award” by Las Vegas India Chamber of Commerce (2013), as a Woman of Distinction by Nat’l Association of Women Business Owners (2006), a Platinum Achievement Award by the Cooperative Development Energy Program by Fort Valley State University (2011), A Lady of Distinction by Olive Crest, an organization advocating for needs of children in the foster care system (2009) and Woman of the Year by The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada (2009). She was named among “Top 100 Influential Women in Las Vegas” by MyVegas Magazine in 2013.
My conversation with Punam Mathur exceeded my expectations.
We leaned in, rolled our sleeves up and Punam shared her behind-the-scenes journey to success.
Here’s what I learned:
Punam was raised in Vancouver, BC with her two sisters. Her father was a professor and her mom stayed home to raise the girls.
She experienced the loss of her father 3 months into her first year of college, she dropped out. Eventually, she went back to become a special education teacher and aimed to be the best in the field.
After being told “no” to a promise that was made, she left Canada running to Lake Tahoe never realizing her dream as a special ed teacher.
After realizing it was still snowing in April, she kept heading south driving to Las Vegas, and her journey as a trailblazer in town began.
Punam is a do whatever it takes woman. She got to town and began delivering newspapers for the RJ to pay the bills.
Shortly after that she started a travel business and bought her partner out a year later.
With 17 employees, she was in over her head, and with clear intention, she filed for bankruptcy to shut her business down. Failed. With her head held high, she walked into bankruptcy court knowing she would rise from that experience.
This began her career in service. Failure first.
After a career with the Chamber, her heart was telling her to move forward.
What she really wanted was…children.
During one of her first interviews with Elaine and Steve Wynn, she admitted this – and this sparred a lifelong friendship and career with the Wynn’s.
Punam fostered and adopted four children.
There were SO MANY nuggets in this episode, Punam opens up about what success looked like for her as a young professional and how it has transformed with experiences, and as she calls them…soul nudges needing heeding.
Here are some key takeaways:
1. Create your own dashboard for success
2. Failure is a part of success – there is no way around it
3. Surround yourself with senior leaders who will tell you the truth, even when it hurts
4. Your past can give you a clear indication that you’re going to make it
5. Success means intimacy = into me you see
Don’t be afraid to be seen and see others
6. Find a tribe, and be open and honest
There’s so much more jam-packed into this episode!
One important thing for Punam was building a family. Another guest was invested in family who came on my show. Check out Speaking Your Truth with Indya Ford.