My IWL Impact Story: Attacking Imposter Syndrome

By Melissa Melton, Senior Project Manager in Human Resources at GE Appliances, a Haier Company, IWL Louisville Conference Planning Committee Program Co-Lead, and President of Women Influencing Louisville (WIL)

At the 2017 IWL Louisville Conference, Melissa spoke on a panel - "Women Helping Women: Normalizing Camaraderie Between Women"

It was 2017 and IWL was planning their 3rd annual conference in Louisville. At the time, I worked for an HR consulting firm, co-led their internal women’s network and had recently joined Women Influencing Louisville (WIL). When all three roads collided, I had no idea the impact it would have!

I was soon approached by IWL to sit on a panel about women helping women and thought, “Who, me?” I didn’t see myself as a leader or someone with anything important to share. Had I misled these women I met into believing I was “more important” or higher-up in our organization? Oh no, what if I do this and they realize I’m a fraud? And there it was, the first time I realized I was experiencing imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome is “the persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one's own efforts or skills.” And the fear sets in that others will soon realize they are a fake.

In the past that fear would have taken over and I would have quickly said “Thanks, but no thanks”, making up some excuse as to why I couldn’t be on the panel. This time was different, though because I recognized what was happening. I had time to adjust my thoughts and attitude and I said yes. YES! Fake it till you make it, right?! I trusted the judgement of the planning committee and soon began thinking of situations when I had helped women in my life, whether it was a colleague, my sister, my daughter and the fear started to disappear.

I made it through the panel without being heckled and without anyone questioning my value or reason for being there. Maybe I was the real deal! And at that moment I realized I DO have something to offer others, and my successes are my own. They have no less value than the successes of others. And my confidence began to grow.

Now when I am asked to step into the light, and my initial reaction is, “Who, me?” I remind myself that there is a reason. Someone sees something in me that I might not see at the time and THAT’S OK! I have faith that it will work out. If this happens to you, believe in yourself the way others believe in you! It’s your time to use your voice and your power.


Melissa Melton serves as Program Co-Lead on the IWL Louisville conference planning committee, working hard to make the 5th annual conference the most impactful one yet. Melissa also serves as President of Women Influencing Louisville (WIL), a group of Louisville - based companies that focus on issues that are important to women that further support women's diversity. Melissa is an advocate for women and firmly believes her involvement with both of these organizations has played a role in getting her to where she is in her career today.

For her day job, Melissa is Senior Project Manager in Human Resources at GE Appliances, a Haier Company. Prior to working at GE, she was a Principal with Mercer's Career business as the MVS Operations Leader. Melissa has twenty years of software and consulting experience spanning several industries and areas of expertise, including twelve years of compensation related systems experience.

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