Women of Power: Practical Advice to Real Women - Black Enterprise

Women of Power: Practical Advice to Real Women

The two morning sessions that kicked off Thursday’s Women of Power Summit, were both amazing! And I’m not just saying that because I’m the Careers Editor at Black Enterprise magazine and both sessions related to careers. I’m saying it because both panels provided practical advice to real women in need.

In a nod to our current economic climate, the first session was called Career EKG: Is Your Professional Health What It Should Be? Moderated by Dr. Ella Bell, the session addressed the importance of gauging your career.

Panelist Debra Sandler, worldwide president of McNeil Nutritionals, spoke about the importance of starting your career ambitions with a dream, “There are many peaks and valleys one will face in their careers, but if you’re willing to work hard for your dream, there is no dream that’s to big,” Sandler says. She also believes that all women know deep in their gut when their careers are off course.

Just like our health, Sandler says there are signs that will tell you things aren’t right (i.e., not being included in particular meetings, not being cc’d on important department emails, or your opinion not being respected internally.) Sandler says that’s the time when you know deep down inside that you might have to reshape your dream — and it’s okay to do so.

Similar to Sandler, panelist Paula Madison, executive vice president of diversity for NBC Universal. believes when considering your career goals you must ask yourself one question: Are your professional goals and values in line with your company’s values? If not, Madison says run for the hills.

She, like Debra Langford, recommends to never define yourself by your job, and believes that if you don’t fulfill your goals first, ultimately you’ll fail yourself and your company.

Recession-Proof Your Career

During the Recession-Proof Your Career: Surviving and Economic Downturn panel, women learned hard-core practical tips to protect themselves in light of the economy.

Moderated by Trudy Bourgeois, president and CEO of the Center for Workforce Excellence, the panel included Veronica Conway, president of Tribe Coaching, Erika James, visiting associate professor at Harvard Business School, and Jessica Isaacs, senior vice president of filed operations & global reinsurance for AIG.

Bourgeois began the panel by telling women two action items:
1.) Schedule an appointment with yourself after the summit and take the time to evaluate your job
2.) Go back to whoever sponsored you to attend the summit and explain the value of attending. Then make sure to present a PowerPoint presentation to teach other employees at your company what you learned. Use this as an opportunity to create visibility for yourself.

In order to recession-proof one’s career, Isaacs says stellar performance and reputation in the single most important factor avoiding a lay-off. Isaacs also believes women must keep in mind the following principles to enhance their careers:
– Basic performance
– Image
– Flexibility
– Exposure
– Mentorship

Conway, who provided excellent advice throughout the session, says women must be clear on their strengths and evaluate their mind set. Like any muscle, Conway believes your mind must be trained to perform daily on the job. Without mental