Follow the Leaders
You could feel the electricity in the air as nearly 100 women executives and MBA students gathered for the second annual “Future-Proofing Your Career” event co-hosted by The Richmond MBA at the University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business and the Virginia Council of CEOs.
“The Importance of Mentoring” was the theme of this year’s event, and setting the tone for the afternoon was keynote Linda Schreiner, Senior Vice President of Strategic Management for Markel Corporation and former Senior Vice President at MeadWestvaco. Her presentation was followed by peer roundtable sessions facilitated by several VACEOs Members and Sponsors.
“The Virginia Council of CEOs appreciates partnering with the Robins School on this event,” said Connie Bruce, Director of Operations & Member Services, Virginia Council of CEOs. “It’s great for our own Members, but it’s also great for the business community as a whole to focus on women business owners and business executives. The energy is incredible – they come and they learn from each other by sharing.”
Jennifer Boyden, Heart Havens CEO and VACEOs Member, was happy to share her knowledge with the women attending the event. “I’m here because I’m a member of the Council,” she explained. “I believe in experience sharing, and I believe in creating pathways and networks for women so that we can all grow stronger together.”
“I came last year and loved it,” said one participant after the event. “I invited three people to come this year, and all of them loved it. I felt like I paid forward something!”
“SUCCESS IS WHAT HAPPENS ONE PERSON AT A TIME”
Keynote speaker Linda Schreiner welcomed the opportunity to address the crowd about mentoring, saying it’s “a subject I’m pretty passionate about and was thrilled to be able to have an opportunity to share it with people – and then especially have members of the audience be able to talk further about it in their breakout groups.”
During her presentation, Schreiner discussed her experience in career counseling and as part of MeadWestvaco’s formal mentoring program, and answered questions participants submitted before the program began. She also talked about what happens when a mentorship isn’t a good fit, finding the right mentor, mentoring versus sponsoring, power and gender dynamics, and getting the most out of the relationship for mentors and mentees.
“Success is what happens one person at a time, one relationship at a time,” said Schreiner. “I think we should just start with that one relationship that we choose to invest in and give that our all. Don’t try to do everything and don’t try to over-program things…”
“It’s also really important to know when you’re finished,” she added. “In the end, I hope you get the same joy out of mentoring that I do, because it’s just wonderful to see people try to achieve goals, work hard and actually succeed.”
VACEOs MEMBERS AND SPONSORS LEAD ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS
All attendees participated in pre-arranged peer roundtables facilitated by VACEOs Members and Sponsors and other business leaders. As VACEOs members quickly learn, these kinds of sessions can be a powerful tool for testing new ideas, solving problems and learning from others who’ve had similar experiences. Learn more about roundtables.
“At our tables today, we were able to facilitate very powerful discussions through a structured model,” said Stephanie Ford, Director at Warren Whitney and VACEOs Sponsor. “Everyone had the opportunity to share their challenges and also be able to share in a very respectful way about their experiences and lessons learned so that others could benefit from them.”
Many participants formed new relationships that will likely last beyond the day. Said one attendee of her roundtable experience, “It was amazing! Great. It was great. Very refreshing. I just felt like I didn’t know anyone in my group, and I felt like they were my best friends at the end of it. I learned a lot about myself.”
Another said, “It was super-helpful to hear from women who have been in similar situations as I, but also in different, and to see the themes that run through our lives.” Yet another added, “It was incredible. Super-inspiring and loving all the advice and all the incredibly smart people that share all their wisdom with the group. It was incredible. Loved it.”
Debbie Fisher, Associate Director for The Richmond MBA at Robins School of Business, is already looking forward to next year, saying: “[Linda Schreiner] did an amazing job – really talked about how women can help lift each other up – and we are so excited about next year!”
Special thanks to the VACEOs Members and Sponsors who facilitated roundtable discussions during this event, including: