Cookie Tuminello says it’s about time women start claiming their places on the corporate ladder instead of hanging back and settling for less than they are worth.

As the founder and CEO of the coaching and consulting firm Success Source LLC, Tuminello said she helps her clients “get where they want to go.”

She will be sharing her message during the keynote address at this year’s Women’s Week Kick-Off Luncheon Sept. 16 at Boudreaux’s.

“One of my mottos is ‘Success is a choice — the struggle is 100 percent optional,’” Tuminello said.

Tuminello said she works one-on-one with primarily female executives, managers, business owners and organizational leaders to give them the tools and strategies they need.

Often, the answer is another pair of eyes to see what’s not working for a particular client, Tuminello said.

Her talk, titled “The New Leadership Paradigm,” will address the changing marketplace as well as the shifting dynamics of what it means to be a woman leader today, Tuminello said.

She said today’s leaders require not only tech-savvy skills, but also “soft skills” (also known as people skills), in order to create long-term sustainable results.

“Tech skills can be outsourced,” Tuminello said. “Building human capital is going to take communication skills and we (women) wrote the book on building relationships.”

Women, however, often stand in their own way when it comes to achieving success, Tuminello said.

“Women in the past have hung back and accepted the status quo and tried to fit into others’ expectations of what they should be,” Tuminello said.

She said this has left them stressed, exhausted and unfulfilled.

Entrepreneurialism among women is at an all-time high, though, because women want more control over their lives, she said.

In order to be successful, women need to develop such qualities as confidence, gain a clear picture of where they’re going and become committed, she said.

“Learning how to say what they mean and mean what they say so they’re taken seriously — not in an ugly way, but in a way that’s empowering,” she said.

Tuminello said a lot of what she teaches comes from her own experiences as a business owner.

She has worked as a coach since the mid-’90s, and started her own business in 1999.

Three years ago, the Baton Rouge native and past president of Women’s Council, decided to move to Lafayette.

Tuminello said the first person who looked at her house for sale in Baton Rouge bought it, so she took it as a sign she was doing the right thing.

“I just felt like Lafayette was where I needed to be,” she said.

But, she said, she’s “just right up the road,” from her family and friends in Baton Rouge.

Her book, “Climbing The Ladder of Success In High Heels — Without Stepping On Your Values,” will be available later this month.