Recently from April 22- April 23, 2014, seven FWA mentees were invited to the Simmons Leadership Conference held in Boston, Massachusetts. This is the second consecutive year that the FWA Mentoring Program at Baruch College has enabled these young, talented women to attend. According to FWA Mentee Megan Chiu, “Having the privilege to attend the Simmons Leadership Conference gave me the opportunity to absorb the wisdom of so many accomplished women at different phases in their professional careers and personal lives. This year’s theme of ‘Jumping the Curve’ resonated with me because I am often afraid and skeptical of venturing into the unknown. However, it is clear that the largest risks often yield the largest rewards.”
Kicking off the conference, Campbell’s CEO Denise Morrison said during her keynote speech, “If you’re afraid to fail, you can never succeed.” This is especially true for leaders, who are responsible for taking teams and organizations to new heights in creative ways. “A conference such as the Simmons Leadership Conference empowers women to take those leaps and strides in order to be propelled to new heights,” Chiu added.
During the panel titled, “The Female Mind: The Biology of Leadership” points that were based on Dr. Helen Fisher’s ground breaking brain scanning studies showed that women’s ancient, biologically-based aptitudes are all leadership qualities that are essential to the modern bottom line. Jagatnarain commented, “I was fascinated and entertained by this discussion and I truly believe that I attained knowledge and was given the necessary tools to become a successful leader someday.” Additionally, award-winning actress, author, dancer and singer Rita Moreno was on hand to detail her very personal rags to riches story. “Rita Moreno was an inspirational speaker and I know others felt the same way because the room was dead silent when she spoke, as everyone was engaged in her story. Moreno motivates me because she was an average girl who made her dreams come true and I want to achieve my goals just like she did,” Jagatnarain stated.
While there were many other speakers on hand, none were likely as highly anticipated as Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose closing speech outlined her experiences and observations in regards to the status of and respect for women from a position of rank and influence. She spoke on women’s tendencies to shy away from speaking up, which deters them from taking chances. On this point, she believes the key to the success of women is to “learn how to take criticism seriously but not personally.” Women receive a plethora of information and advice in order to succeed, yet the onus is on the recipient not to use the remarks as deterrents but as constructive criticism.
So, what was the overall sentiment these mentees shared after taking part in such a momentous event? “This conference has motivated me to work harder than ever before. Being surrounded by such successful and influential women has pushed me to further myself as a student, professional, and individual in the hopes that I will one day be on that stage speaking to a room filled with people and telling them my story,” Judy Leung, FWA Mentee concluded. “Getting the chance to hear each story really inspired me and motivated to further take risks and let nothing stop me. People will always judge you for every decision you make, but you cannot let them stop you from what you want to do or what you believe in.”
Special thanks to our FWA mentors and Alyce Mayo, Director of the FWA Mentoring Program at Baruch College.
About Simmons Leadership Conference
For nearly 35 years, the Simmons Leadership Conference has brought together over 3,000 middle and senior level women from various global organizations. Founded by John Simmons with the goal of assisting women in living a more independent lifestyle, the Conference also serves as a non-profit fundraiser for graduate scholarships at Simmons College and other institutions of higher education as well. Focusing on enlightening and interactive presentations from prominent women, over the years past speakers have included Madeline Albright, Maya Angelou, Christiane Amanpour, Viola Davis, Geraldine Ferraro, Carly Fiorina, Marta Fox, Whoopie Goldberg, Donna Karan, Diane Keaton, Oprah Winfrey and many more.