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8 Lessons for Women from “Moves that Matter”

Featured Events | Mar 19, 2019 |

At “Moves that Matter,” the 20th Annual Fordham Women in Business Conference, held on International Women’s Day, several panels of driven female professionals, spoke of crucial decisions in their lives that made them who they are today.

Eight highlights from the inspiring and influential speakers underscored some of the key takeaways from this year’s event, aimed at empowering more women to take the personal and professional risks that lead to growth.

1. Learn from failures. Keynote speaker Kim Patel, director of global corporate strategy at VICE Media, began her career in finance, later entering the media industry. After being let go due to a difficult relationship with her boss, she felt a deep sense of failure. “I did not know what to do with myself, I did not know if I could bounce back from that,” Patel says. Ultimately, that same sense of failure led her to thrive. “I will now say that that was the best thing that [my boss] ever did for me in my life.” It pushed her to find out what she really wanted to do.

2. Have grounding principles. Lois Jeffers, a Diversity and Inclusiveness Consultant at EY and panelist, moved from law to breaking down barriers for women of color because she wanted to advocate for others. “I never thought that I would be doing what I am doing today,” Lois noted, saying that she was one of those kids who “knew she was going to be an attorney since she was ten years old.” But, grounded in the belief that she could make a difference helped to create her mission, which became her calling and purpose. A little voice can go a long way, and Lois listened to herself and followed her instincts to push herself to where she is now.

3. Be yourself. An original is always better than a copy. One of the greatest assets we all have is being able to bring our unique point of view to the workplace. Sara Demenkoff, the director of program marketing and advertising at Showtime Networks, knows that she is the right person to be in the job that she is in now. She has found a career that allows her to do what she loves every day, and says that taking the time to “discovery and figure out who I wanted to be,” allowed her to find her true passion that she lives now.

4. Feed your soul. Meredith Haberfeld, the Founder and CEO of ThinkHuman, built her career by wanting to make a difference in the business world, not by joining it, but by inspiring professionals to be true to who they are. As a life coach, Meredith found that she loved unleashing what was inside of people’s souls. ThinkHuman strives to bring soul into business, something that she hadn’t seen in the space before. She attributes her success to having a good business model and engaging the right people to come along for the ride.

5. Ask for help. Being self-aware and knowing what you can and cannot do is part of the learning process throughout one’s career, but each speaker admitted that even if it was hard for them to ask for help, doing so ended up enriching their professional experiences. “Your peers are some of your most valuable resources,” Kim noted, and tapping into their potential and depth of knowledge, will only help each of us grow and lift others up in the long run. Ask for help, learn something new, and pass it on.

6. Embrace the zigzag. Life is full of ups and downs. Some of the most unexpected changes end up being the best decisions one makes. Embracing that change, and not allowing that zigzag of life to get you down, will help open everyone’s eyes to the life and career path that they may ultimately be meant for — even if it isn’t where they started.

7. Take a leap. Chantal Line Carpentier, chief of the New York Office of the Secretary General at UNCTAD, grew up on a farm in Quebec and always knew that she wanted to work in the agriculture space. She followed her path and landed in the economics and agricultural space, where she was doing what she loved and working toward furthering her degree. But, when the opportunity presented itself to work in the Amazon with an international institute, she jumped at the chance. When asked about that experience now, she says she asked herself at the time, “What am I going to regret not having done?”

8. Live your mission. Panel moderator Elizabeth Ostler, manager of enrichment programs at the Gabelli School of Business, asked each panelist about what lead them to their career and how their mission is being lived every day. Though the panelists come from different backgrounds, each noted that they felt a calling to integrate what they love into their work. Elizabeth ended the afternoon by saying, “If you don’t live your mission, your mission isn’t lived.”

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