Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Paying It Forward: 2011 Women’s Weekend

WFU Business School Headshots 8-20-09 This year, the Graduate Women in Business (GWIB), hosted the Women’s Weekend, with the theme, “Paying it Forward” on Feb. 25-26. This was the first year they invited prospective students to join the event.

The weekend began with a dessert and cocktail reception with keynote speaker, Lisbeth Evans, who shared her marvelous story on why it is important to follow your dreams. She came from a strong family of very educated women. She is a “Double Deac” herself and her story truly showed how she followed her passion. She started out being a teacher after completing her undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University. After a year of teaching, she went to Wake’s business school to earn an MBA. After business school, she worked as a developer for a real estate company, joined Morgan Stanley, worked for the government and was a former N.C. Secretary of the Department of Cultural Resources, and invested in the fashion industry.

Evans is currently the owner of Once Upon an App, which makes educational programs and games for children. Her underlying message was to go pursue your dreams: We as women need to have the power and self confidence to follow our passion and it could lead us in various industries, roles, and paths.

On Saturday, the event kicked off with having the Alumni Panel. Our panelists consisted of Evans; Katharina Haynes Bethea, associate marketing manager at Wal-Mart; Kathy Hackshaw, general manager of Tanger Outlets; and Kelly Lockwood-Primus, vice president of marketing for Primo Water Corp. Topics of discussions included challenges women will face, mentoring, and paying it forward. Here are key points from the discussions:

  • Challenges Women will face in the work-place
    • We as women want to do it for less, which is okay if it is a job that you want to do and are passionate about.
    • Make sure you are aware of your talents. Don’t pigeonhole yourself in an industry.
    • Women are often self-critical.
    • It is easier for women to blend in, especially if they are the only girl at the table. When you start blending in with the rest of your counterparts, you automatically set yourself to loose. Don’t be afraid to show your feminine side – express yourself
    • Sometimes, in order to maintain your passion, leaving the company may be the possibility. Have a good balance of work and life. Develop a social support.
    • Strongly recommend reading the book: How to succeed without a penis and learning how to play golf.
  • Mentoring
    • Studies have shown that mentorships are very crucial in order to be successful in your career
    • Connecting with a mentor and ensure they have the skill set that can help you get to the next level. Use different mentors at different times of a career
    • Have a sponsor: Someone that can promote or advertise you to others in the organization. The sponsor should have a big enough voice in the organization.
    • Mentoring should be a two-way street. Allow the mentor to provide you guidance but also ask them if you can assist them on a project or a task
    • Shadowing the mentor is also a great way to get the experience
  • Paying it Forward
    • Need to have the mentality to provide support to others based on lessons learned not getting stuck in your own personal struggles. For example, if it took me five years to get there, teach others of your struggles so they can make it there in less time.
    • Always have each others back – not being catty.
    • Provide constructive feedback to others if they are unwilling to bring you along.
    • If there is back-biting, address it head-on.

After lunch, we had a great session by Kathy Korman Frey, founder of The Hot Mommas Project, on the topic of New Sisterhood of success. Here were the key highlights:

  • To Don’t List
    • It is not enough just to have a to-do list. Having a “to-don’t” list will allow you to maximize your time effectively. Key point in this discussion is to stay out of the e-mail vortex of death, where we often want to check a quick e-mail and fall into a malicious trap of responding and addressing issues that can wait.
  • Value Spreadsheet
    • Quantify your value. Do a quantitative analysis on what you are worth to the organization. This will assist with salary negotiations.
  • Understand needing support where you log most hours
    • This will allow you to have more focus. What are the most important priorities that need to be completed and reaching out for support?
  • Work-Life balance
    • Playing multiple roles – at home, work. Women typically get a lot of care giving responsibilities, whether it is child care or taking care of elderly relatives.
  • 5 Mentors
    • Studies have shown that women that have five or more mentors are more successful.
  • Key message for all women: Ask others how you can support them by providing your examples and experiences. Forum technique, where you are not giving advice but experiences builds a support network.

Overall, the Women’s weekend was a big success. There were a lot of experience sharing and knowledge that we were sharing. Key to keeping this momentum going to ensure you are following the techniques provided and not allowing constraints of real life sneak up. As a millennial female in the workforce, this has taught me a valuable lesson. The key message it has taught me is the idea of paying it forward. The struggles I have faced in the workforce or at school needs to be shared with others so the next generation of women can learn from my mistakes and take that knowledge and pay it forward to the next.

~ Bobbie Shrivastav (MBA ‘11)

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