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Summary: AS/COA Women's Hemispheric Network - Cultivating the Next Generation of Female Leaders

AS/COA Women's Networking Event

AS/COA's Women's Hemispheric Network held its annual New York event in October. (Image: Roey Yohai)

November 04, 2013

On October 11, Americas Society/Council of the Americas’ Women's Hemispheric Network held its annual women’s networking event and workshop in New York. Read highlights of the event and see videos of the panels.

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Opening Remarks

  • Susan Segal, President and CEO, Americas Society/Council of the Americas
  • Margarita Zavala, Former First Lady of Mexico

Keynote Speaker

  • Sallie Krawcheck, Business Leader, 85 Broads

In opening remarks, speakers highlighted the progress made by the network since its launch exactly a year ago—including holding events in Latin America and the creation of its new LinkedIn group to keep members connected. They also discussed the importance of the network in the region for the promotion of women in the workforce and leadership positions. “AS/COA has invited us to share our own stories. Sharing our experiences as women is critical to our advancement,” said former First Lady of Mexico Margarita Zavala, who helped establish the network in 2012.

In her keynote address, Sallie Krawcheck of 85 Broads, a global women's network, reflected on her career in the financial sector and what it had meant to be one of the few women at the top. She stressed the importance of bringing women into the economic and political process, citing a recent study from the Center for Talent Innovation that shows diverse teams drive more innovation. Krawcheck pointed out that research continues to show that more women in companies and senior leadership positions leads to lower risk, lower volatility, greater client focus, and better stockholder returns. She encouraged attendees to build up a strong network in and out of their companies and to find sponsors in the workplace. She also urged proactive behavior for women in their careers, including asking for raises and soliciting feedback. “Meditating in your room and making lists of pros and cons for your future can be very helpful—but it isn’t the same as going out and getting your hands dirty,” Krawcheck advised.


Women Leading STEM Fields

Speakers:

  • Blanca Treviño, President and Chief Executive Officer, Softtek
  • Adriana Noreña, General Director of Spanish Speaking Latin America, Google
  • Sonia Dulá, Vice Chairman of Latin America, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (moderator)

Blanca Treviño of Softtek, Adriana Noreña of Google, and Sonia Dulá of Bank of America Merrill Lynch shared personal stories about advancing in their fields and the mentorship relationships that helped them advance.

Dulá explained how her career had crossed over different industries, including finance and media, and concluded that the most important thing it is not what one does, but how one does it. The industry is less important for the female employee than her manner and the work ethic she brings to the position, she said.

Treviño and Noreña discussed the obstacles they had faced in their careers. In Treviño’s hometown of Monterrey, women were expected to get married rather than enter the workforce. Treviño stressed, however, that she had always refused to view her gender as a hindrance. “The obstacles could be there, but it’s your decision how you face them, how you deal with them, how you avoid them. You can’t allow them to stop you. It’s your own decision,” she told participants. Noreña described the difficulties surrounding the moment she joined Google in 2006—she was pregnant and living away from her family.

When asked about the path towards leadership, Treviño advised women to never feel guilty about not leaving their job after having children, and to never give up on their dreams. Noreña said that the most compelling learning experiences do not come from reading books, but from closely observing successful managers and executives who help make the impossible possible.

All three leaders advised seeking happiness in both one’s personal and professional lives. “Look for passion in whatever you do and ignore the rest,” said Noreña.


The Value of Mentoring – A Leader’s View

Speakers:

  • Angelica Fuentes, CEO, Grupo Omnilife-Angelissima-Chivas
  • Alba Medina Flores, Vice President, Grupo Fame (Angelica Fuentes’s mentee)
  • Denise Pavarina, Deputy Managing Director, Banco Bradesco & Chairman, Brazilian Financial and Capital Markets Association
  • Regina Delalamo, Executive Superintendent, Bradesco BBI (Denise Pavarina’s mentee)
  • Susan Segal, President and CEO, Americas Society/Council of the Americas (moderator)

The second panel explored the development of mentoring relationships in the workplace, with a conversation led by AS/COA’s Susan Segal with Grupo Omnilife-Angelissima-Chivas' Angelica Fuentesa and Banco Bradesco's Denise Pavarina, and the two women's respective mentees—Grupo Fame's Alba Medina Flores and Bradesco BBI's Regina Delalamo.

Segal kicked off the discussion by speaking about the importance of her own sponsor, the late John F. McGillicuddy, former CEO of Manufacturers Hanover. She noted that many of the women of her generation advanced in their careers as the result of their sponsors, which at the time were often men. The panelists agreed that it’s important not to leave men out, as they are a critical component of women's empowerment.

When asked about her relationship with her mentee, Fuentes said that Medina Flores initially approached her about being her mentor. Fuentes was impressed by her initiative and quickly recognized Medina Flores’ potential for success. “We are both Latina, Mexican women. We know how tough it has been. But we also have great pride,” said Fuentes.

Pavarina spoke about the importance of not depending on just one person, but instead having “a network of sponsors” throughout one’s career. She said that it’s vital to work with and for women, adding that those who are empowered have a responsibility to help other women feel the same way so that they don’t feel alone. “We’ve all had the same problems, the same thinking, the same challenges. Let’s share the solutions and the stories of how we get around these obstacles,” she said.

Both Medina Flores and Delalamo admired the assertiveness, confidence, and dynamism of their sponsors. They also noted both sides of the mentoring relationship must be open to giving and receiving constructive feedback.

Fuentes concluded by recommending that young women in the workplace actively seek out their goals. Pavarina advised women not to feel as though they have to act like a man to get things done in business, stressing that women don’t have to fight to get ahead, rather persist and not give up.


Sponsorship—Securing a Path to Leadership

Speakers:

  • John McCorry, Executive Editor for the Americas, Bloomberg News
  • Adriana Arai, Managing Editor, Latin America, Bloomberg News
  • Nayeli Chavez-Geller, Correspondent, Primer Impacto, Univision (moderator)

During the final panel of the day, Univision's Nayeli Chavez-Geller moderated a conversation between Bloomberg's John McCorry of Bloomberg and a woman he sponsored, Adriana Arai. Both McCorry and Arai agreed that sponsorship is a partnership in which both parties make an investment and there is opportunity for mutual benefit. Arai recalled McCorry saying from the very beginning, “Your success is my success; your failure is my failure.” McCorry recognized Arai’s potential when she was Bloomberg's bureau chief of Mexico City.

McCorry spoke about his own sponsorship relationships and how those men had taken a risk to give him opportunities. Those relationships paved the way for his relationship with those he sponsored, like Arai. He said that sponsorship is not only good for both sides, but also for the company.

Arai commented on how important McCorry had been for her career advancement. He helped her build a meaningful network of key contacts, gave her credit on projects, and told people he wanted them to hear her thoughts, views, and ideas. She noted, however, that the relationship should not be one-sided. The search for a sponsor, she said, should be focused on the key people in the employee’s section, and on what value the employee can add for her sponsor. McCorry agreed, remarking that Arai, who is more open to risks, complements him well and “makes him look good” by pushing the envelope. McCorry explained that in building one’s sponsorship network, women should choose people with whom they’d like to have a closer relationship.