I am very excited to kick-off my "Event Summary" series. As part of this series of blog posts, I will review events, conferences, round tables that I attend. This year, I decided to follow my advice and attend more events and grow my network. Additionally, to increase the value, I get from visiting these events I will document and share my lessons and key insights from the events as well as my next steps I am committed to taking. Please join me on this great adventure.
On Saturday, March 17th I attended the Women in Leadership (WIL) conference hosted by the Haas School of Business, Berkeley.
My Objectives – why did I attend this event?
Going to the conference I had three objectives for attending this event were:
Key Insights – what did I learn?
I took so many notes during the sessions and captured great insights. In my quest to focus, I will be sharing the top five lessons that stuck with me.
Value the skills you have
In her Progress keynote, Larissa Roesch shared a lot of great insights. The largest one that stuck with me was this question: "What else can I do with the skills I already have?"
In recent conversations with a lady close to me, we were discussing how much skills we have gathered and don't value. I believe that the value I bring today is a combination of the skills I have. We need to change our perspective on the skills we have and stop feeling like we are not enough. Start telling yourself - "I can do a lot with skills that I have."
We need "sponsors" in our professional life
"People with sponsors are 23% more like to move up in their career than those without, yet women and far less likely to have Sponsors". Source: WIL 2018 Handout
Over the course of the day, various speakers emphasized the importance and value of having a Sponsor for our professional advancement. I learned the great difference between having a "sponsor" vs. "mentor." I did some research and found this definition - “A sponsor is someone in a position of power who uses his or her influence to advocate on your behalf” – Source: Forbes Article. I looked at my own professional life and noticed that I do not have a sponsor that speaks up for me at places that matter like promotion conversations.
There a massive gap for Women of color in leadership - We have a lot to do
"Women of color are underrepresented in the cooperate pipeline. 8%- Senior Manager/Director, 6% - Vice President, 4% - Senior Vice President, 3% in the C-Suite" (Source: McKinsey Women in the Workplace 2017 ). At the event Chloe Johnson, a McKinsey consultant shared the latest findings from the Women in the Workplace 2017 Study.
Only 3% - this is not acceptable. The conversation is mostly around what other's around women in leadership positions can do to raise this number. We (Women of color in leadership positions) have a significant role in increasing the 3%. I am personally committed to identifying the steps I can personally take to be part of the group that raises that number.
I am hopeful because the study also says, "And yet: despite facing more pitfalls to advancement, women of color have higher ambitions to be a top executive than white women." (Source: McKinsey Women in the Workplace 2017)
On being and becoming a woman in leadership
Eve Chaurand shared the following key points on our role and responsibilities as women in leadership:
Connecting dots build our life story
Over the course of the day, the Steve Jobs quote “You cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” was mentioned a lot.
Larissa Roesch drove this point home for me when she told her story with the help of some key "dots" in her life that formed who she is today.
This one spoke to me personally. I have always struggled with telling my story because it felt a little disjointed and complex. From the way Larissa told her story I started identifying key experiences or dots in my life that make me the woman I am today. I did not always understand how they all fit together while I was going through them and some still don't make sense. However, now looking back I am beginning to connect some of my dots. Watch this space for MC's story: Connecting some dots.
My Next Steps: What am I going to do?
To increase the value of this event for me, I have identified the following action items:
Call to Action