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BPW/Triangle develops a powerful network of leaders to advocate, educate and cultivate connections.

Member Highlight: Garla Smith

10 Feb 2020 2:46 PM | Anonymous

Can you give us a brief introduction of who you are and your current business?

I’m the owner of Smart Moms.  We are a recruiting firm where we connect employers to various skilled, professional committed women who want part-time or contract work. I’m a mechanical engineer by training and over 16 years ago, I decided that I didn’t want to build things. I was very interested in helping women build their lives, build well-balanced lives so I made the decision to start Smart Moms.  

What prompted you to join BPW and what positions have you held during your tenure with BPW?

In 2011, BPW Raleigh presented me with “Career Woman of the Year.” They did it at the Raleigh chapter and then the state nominated me and told me I was “career woman of the year.”  They honored me telling me I had great innovations in creating work-life balance for women and I was really touched by that.  I got a chance to meet a lot of women from other BPW chapters and I realized it was a great dynamic group of women.  Phenomenal.  They were doing advocacy from the state level to the federal level, networking, and the scholarship fund they offer, I was just so impressed.  Fast forward five years later, I came to a meeting and was warmly welcomed and decided to join. I sit on the professional development team.  I’m one of the individuals that help organize these amazing webinars for women such as self-care, financial wellness, leadership, negotiating skills.  I’m just so excited to be part of this group!

What hobbies do you have outside of work?

I love to read. I’m an avid reader.  The last ten years I’ve been reading a lot of business books.  Quite a few of our members have written their own books so I read those. I also fish.  My husband and I fish in the spring and summer at Jordan Lake and Falls Lake.  I love to travel so I’ve been to Miami and Puerto Rico and trying to go to Ibiza in May, but my husband doesn’t know yet. 

What was the best concert you ever attended?

Pat Metheny.  He’s a fusion jazz guitarist who I got introduced to in my high school days.  He came to the Carolina Theater in Durham and I got a chance to get great seats.  He has this mechanical orchestra which he created and plays along with his band.   It was just an amazing concert. 

What are you passionate about?

Work-life balance for women is so important to me.  My mom at the age of 49 had her first stroke. She was single parent raising two children, a homeowner, a DC public school teacher.  She had two side hustles at the same time.  I really believe if she had opportunities like being able to be remote or flexible hours, she might not have had a stroke so early. I have been committed the last 16 years help women negotiate work life balance, or connect with employers who have it, or create their own opportunities.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be and why?

I’ve always wanted to do those long hiking treks.  Climb Mount Kilimanjaro or climb the Appalachian trail but I’m scared of bears. I think if I had someone teach me how to survive in the wild then I would go one of these trips. 

What are you currently watching on Netflix or TV or any streaming services?

In December, I just got finished watching “Greenleaf” on Netflix which is a saga about an African American mega-church family that has drama, they create drama, they live in drama, but it has a Christian twist and I enjoyed watching it.  

Which four individuals, living or dead, would you like to eat dinner with the most?

Michelle Obama for sure. I love her persona, who she is.  Iylania Vanzant, she’s had a motivational speaker with a couple TV shows.  She’s a minister and tells it like it is and she’s so clear which is why I have a couple questions I’d like to ask her.  Octavia Butler, who’s a science fiction writer. She’s no longer with us, but she’s Black and she combined science fiction with Black spirituality and came up with amazing storylines.  I would love to sit with her and ask her, “How did you come up with this stuff?”   And lastly, Meryl Streep.  I love her.  She’s had a long-standing career, been married for a long time, had children and seems very grounded.  

What is your favorite family tradition?

Going home. I have two daughters that are 18 and 20.  For 20 years, we’ve put them in a car with pillows, blankets, games and snacks.  We traveled to Tylertown, Mississippi, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Seabrook, Maryland to see their grandparents.  When we get there, it’s always a lot of fun.  We see family, we eat good food and it’s hard when we leave. But we leave with a heart full of love.  I love going home.  

What can BPW do to support you in your career?

Smart Moms is making a push to connect with as many principals in law firms as possible. We have very talented women who are attorneys that can work remote for any of the offices. We have paralegals, bookkeepers, assistants, HR support for recruiting.  I’m really hoping that BPW will make introductions to law firms so we can get more women to work for them. 

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