On Thursday, March 18, I had the honor of being the moderator for the Women in Business (WIB) Fourth Annual Pearls of Wisdom Women’s Leadership Conference at Baruch College. “Envision, Empower, Succeed” was the theme for the evening when close to 200 young women and men spent time listening to and interacting with inspiring speakers.
Sufia Farha, President of WIB, and her team of dedicated, organized, and helpful students made the evening an enjoyable one for everyone. I did not want to turn down the opportunity to be the moderator for the third year in a row but I also had a class in “Organizational Behavior” to teach during the exact time of the panel. A resolution was to assign “Women in Leadership” as my students’ next written assignment, require my class to attend, and give these achievement oriented students the opportunity to be part of an event that evening students do not often get the chance to attend.
One of my students came up to me at the close of the program and said, “I’m grateful that you required us to attend.” Later that evening, another student wrote me an e-mail in which she said, “Thank you for inviting us to such an invigorating event. It was way better than I thought it would be.”
Why was it ”way better”? The inspirationalprofessional knowledge the guests offered.
The keynote address by Diane Garnick brought audience members—and panelists—to tears when hearing of the adversities she overcame and how she challenged herself to enter the world of finance. One “Pearl of Wisdom” Diane shared was, ”If your palms aren’t sweating enough, your game isn’t big enough.” Today, after sweating a lot, she is an investment strategist at Invesco, an investment management company. To read more about Diane and her volunteer work, here’s a link to her facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Diane-Garnick/188133090053?v=info
The WIB committee had developed a series of questions for the panelists and I had the opportunity to ask these inquiries (with a little embellishment) on behalf of the young women just starting their careers.
Panelists included Heather Maloney, Executive Director, Hope & Heroes Children’s Cancer Fund; Lenore Janis, President, Professional Women in Construction National; and Virginia McNeil Montague, President of The New York Coalition of One Hundred Black Women.
Each response from the panel brought helpful insights into the lives of women who hold executive leadership positions. One particular question from the audience brought this series of replies: “Do whatever scares you.” “Life is a series of trials and tests.” “Go to the gym.” What was the question? I don’t remember. What I do know is that the answers represent the ways that these women faced, managed, and overcame the obstacles in their careers.
Near the end of the question and answer period from the audience, I noted that about one-quarter to one-third of the audience were males. Yet, not one male asked a question. “Okay,” I said. “It’s time for a man to ask a question.” One of my students raised his asked and asked the panel, “What can men do to help women succeed?” The overall answer from the panelists was, “Men need to talk to women to hear what they need. And men need to talk to talk other men about what women need. They also need to work with women so that they can understand and help women get the respect and acknowledgement they have earned in the workplace.”
It was a great evening for so many reasons. One of which is that after stepping off the dias at the end of the panel, I was invited to be the moderator for the Fifth Annual Pearls of Wisdom Women’s Leadership Conference. I’m looking forward to the event already.