(Read a comprehensive story about the conference)

By Bill Peel, Executive Director of Innovation & Strategic Planning

It’s impossible to anticipate the dynamic of being one of five men in a room filled with 400 enthusiastic,  energetic women eagerly anticipating the lessons to be gleaned from a conference titled “From Bossy to Transformational.” That’s exactly the situation I found myself in as I attended the second annual Mays Business School “Women’s Leadership Initiative” conference.

To say that I came with preconceptions about this forum would be a gross understatement. Yet, as I peered through the “looking glass” into the world of women in leadership, I was enveloped by the challenges women face in leadership roles – challenges that are unique and uncommon to their male counterparts. I left with an enlightened respect for a woman’s leadership journey and the manner in which I could better interface with women in the workplace. I also left with leadership lessons applicable to my own career.

Julie Lenzer ’88 challenged the conference participants to get out of their comfort zones, go someplace they’ve never imagined, and follow the thread that will weave their career path. She reminded us that we never know who’s following our careers and the impressions we will make with our actions. I smiled as she noted to “beware of saying something out loud, as it might just prompt your next career move.” It was disappointing, yet realistic, to be reminded that “men can make women feel uncomfortable” in the workplace, vowing to increase my sensitivity to this tendency in myself. The point that resonated the loudest was not to “spend our lives ‘shoulding’ on ourselves.” That one hit home!

Janeen Judah ’81 focused her comments on the three E’s that frame our journey from tactical to transformational leadership – excellence, endurance, and empowerment. She reminded participants to “have a specialty people know us for, finding something we like and becoming good at it.” Be open to new experiences and don’t become rigid in our career plan. Her emphasis on the power of people was vividly displayed as conference participants exchanged contact information and broadened their network. She challenged us to “keep the ladder down, helping those behind us,” reminding me of the importance of being a coach and mentoring someone else along the way, possibly even someone we met that day. Judah cautioned women not to say “yes” to everything, as it causes them to burn out.  She also challenged women to brag about themselves and learn how to tell their own story, noting that “if you don’t know it, no one else will.” That one got a star in my meeting notes!

The lunch panel was a rapid-fire exchange of tips on issues and opportunities facing women as transformational leaders. Men are simply unaware of the “cycle of weariness” that women face as they are not only leaders, but also wives and mothers. It’s true that “a woman’s work is never done.”

Communication and presentation skills were common themes as the panelists implored women to “learn to brag on themselves” and “be ready to present at a moment’s notice.” It was interesting to learn that women often lead with “I think” or “I feel” when men seek direct communication. Authenticity and confidence were tips offered to elevate the perception of women’s leadership acumen.

The power-packed day ended with Shantera Chatman ’98’s presentation and role playing on negotiation. She stressed the power of self-worth and the ability to “quiet the inner voices” that distract us. “Every time you have a crucial conversation, it gets easier,” Chatman noted, as she blended hints with humor to engage the audience. A member of my table thrust her hand high in the air when there was a call for volunteers. The young professional, a mere six months into her career, was hungry for the tips that would empower her to be a better negotiator and self-advocate. It was so rewarding to feel the energy and see the impact the day had made on her and the other women leaders in the room.

The view through the “looking glass” was both convicting and compelling. It revealed a day filled with energy, engagement, enthusiasm, and excitement. And this appreciative male participant left with a new perspective of the challenges women face and the value women leaders bring to our organizations.

Categories: Diversity and Inclusion, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Programs, Students, Texas A&M, Women's Leadership Initiative

(Read a man’s perspective of the conference).

Fifty-five years after Texas A&M University first began admitting female students, Mays Business School is encouraging women to step into top leadership roles in their organizations and communities. Mays’ Women’s Leadership Initiative Conference, held Oct. 19, offered tips on becoming a transformational leader, overcoming issues that women face in the work world, and negotiations. The conference was attended by approximately 400 current students, former students, Mays faculty and staff, and key stakeholders.

The conference opened with a welcome by Mays Dean Eli Jones ’82, who pointed out that the first strategic initiative in Mays strategic plan calls for increasing diversity and inclusion. This conference encourages women – who are often missing from corporate executive offices — to start stepping into leadership roles. …Read more

Categories: Alumni, Dean Eli Jones, Diversity and Inclusion, Faculty, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Perspectives, Spotlights, Staff, Texas A&M, Women's Leadership Initiative

Be the woman, find the woman, teach the woman – those were the directives delivered to the 400 attendees at the 2017 Women’s Leadership Initiative Conference hosted recently by Mays Business School.

This was the first year Texas A&M University opened the annual event to the public after starting at Mays’ CityCentre Houston as a series of seminars to help current and former female MBA students create connections and practice networking skills for their professional development.

The conference is one of the learning experiences that continue to make Mays Business School a vibrant learning organization.“The Women’s Leadership Initiative seeks to leverage the power of our powerful network and to arrest the progression of this alarming gender gap,” said Annie McGowan, Mays Business School’s Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion.

This year’s participants heard from transformational leaders retired Col. Kim Olson, Deb Merril, and KC Allan Waldron. …Read more

Categories: Alumni, Diversity and Inclusion, Featured Stories, Former Students, Mays Business, News, Programs, Texas A&M, Women's Leadership Initiative

Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School will explore “Strategies for Navigating the Path to Executive Leadership” in its semi-annual Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) conference on Oct. 20 at Texas A&M University. In its eighth year, WLI was created as a vehicle to boost the number of women in leadership positions and demonstrate the school’s commitment to developing women as transformational leaders.

The 2017 Mays WLI Conference is a dynamic one-day leadership conference that focuses on critical issues pertaining to women’s leadership development. The conference theme will focus on the strategies for women to step up to the corner office. Attendees are invited to explore issues that women leaders face through a keynote featuring Col. Kimberly D. Olson, dialogues, networking and a luncheon panel discussion.

“WLI is a great example of our mission to develop the Mays Transformational Leader: Responsible, ethical leaders with entrepreneurial mindsets and vision, who have strong business competencies and personify selfless service,” said Mays Dean Eli Jones.

This year’s theme was inspired by the underrepresentation of women in executive leadership positions. National statistics show that 50 percent of all undergraduate degrees and 30 percent of MBAs granted in the U.S. in 2014 went to women. Yet fewer than 5 percent of Fortune 500 firms are headed by women.

According to Annie McGowan, assistant dean for diversity and inclusion at Mays Business School, the goal of WLI is to arrest national trends by leveraging the knowledge of the school’s world-class leadership faculty, the adult learning expertise of the Mays Center for Executive Development, and the power of the Aggie Network to offer a gateway to seats at board tables and development activities for those aspiring to expand the scope of their leadership opportunities.

The event will take place in the Memorial Student Center Bethancourt Ballroom at Texas A&M University.

The conference is open to the public. Registration before Sept.15 is $400 for a table of eight, $60 for business leaders, $30 for faculty and staff, and $12 for college-aged students. All meals and refreshments are included in the registration fee.

The event is sponsored in part by Mays Business School’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

For more information and to register, visit tx.ag/MaysWLI17  

About the speakers:

Kimberly D. Olson, Colonel (Retired) – Through her trail-blazing military service as an aviation leader, commander and patriot Col. Olson has reshaped the perception of women serving their country. She was part of the first generation of female military pilots in the United States Air Force and one of the first to command an operational flying squadron. She served in the Pentagon on the Joint Staff, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Air Staff and deployed to several combat zones, including Iraq. As the retired CEO/President of Grace After Fire, a Texas-based nonprofit dedicated to helping women veterans help themselves, she reshaped how care was delivered to thousands of women veterans.

Annie McGowan, Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Mays Business School – McGowan heads the Mays Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which aims to realize Mays’ strategic vision as a vibrant learning organization that respects differences and embraces connectedness. McGowan works with members of the school in the areas of cultural sensitivity and inclusion, diversity in student recruitment and retention and community relations. She is an associate professor of accounting and has served as the director of the Professional Program in Accounting (PPA) at Mays since 2008.

Cynthia Devers, Associate Professor of Strategic Management and a Mays Research Fellow, Mays Business School – Devers is also an International Research Fellow at the Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation and an outgoing Associate Editor of Academy of Management Review. In her research, she draws on behavioral decision and social psychological perspectives to examine the roles formal and informal governance mechanisms and social evaluations play in individual, group, and organizational behavior and outcomes. Her work has been published in strategy and management journals, including Strategic Management Journal, Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, and Journal of Management.

Renee Schroeder, Senior Vice President, Advisor Services Technology, Schwab Advisor Services – Schroeder is responsible for development and maintenance of the Advisor Services products and websites. This includes Schwab Advisor Center, Schwab Retirement Center, and Schwab Institutional. Before joining Schwab, Schroeder worked for USAA, where she led applications development, systems maintenance and customer support for USAA’s Brokerage & Mutual Funds; Institutional Trading; Life, Health, and Annuities; and Wealth Management systems. She earned a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M University.

Susan Rudd Bailey, M.D., Fort Worth Allergy – Bailey is an allergist and immunologist from Fort Worth, Texas, and the Speaker of the American Medical Association House of Delegates. Dr. Bailey brings an impressive record of involvement in organized medicine and is a recent past president of the Texas Medical Association (TMA). In 2016, she was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of Texas A&M University.

Deb Merril, President and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Just Energy Group Inc. – As the President and Co-Chief Executive Officer of a growing global energy company, Merril applies her passion for raising the bar to delivering forward-thinking solutions and progressive product and service options as a trusted energy advisor for customers across geographical lines. She holds an MBA and a master’s degree in economics from Mays Business School.

 

Categories: Alumni, Mays Business, News, Texas A&M, Women's Leadership Initiative