Attendees: What to Expect from the Virtual Pennsylvania Conference for Women

virtual PA CFW keynote slider featuring Viola Davis, Tara Westover, and Iyanla VanzantWe’re two weeks out from the first-ever Virtual Pennsylvania Conference for Women on November 11th, and we’re busy putting finishing touches on a program that will help you feel inspired, empowered, and connected!Keep an eye out for our emails over the next two weeks—they’ll contain important information about how to participate in this year’s conference, including your unique login.For now, here is an overview of what’s in store this year: (more…)

Inspiration to Launch Your Life (or Just Start Your Day)


Photo courtesy of Harvard Public Affairs & Communications. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

It’s graduation season! Time for elected officials, former elected officials and Natalie Portman (at Harvard, her alma mater) to step up to the podium and inspire young people as they embark on the next chapter of their lives. But you don’t have to be a co-ed, or parent of one, to be so motivated this year. We asked our speakers, past and confirmed for this year, what they would say—but in 100 words or less. Let the inspiration fly!

“Don’t follow your dreams, lead them. And dream big, but be sure to act even bigger. As necessary and wonderful as dreams are, the meaning in life is ultimately in what we do.”—Gloria Feldt, cofounder and president of Take The Lead and author of No Excuses: Nine Ways Women Can Change How We Think about Power

“Take a breath and close your eyes. Think about what you really love doing. Not what you’re supposed to love, but what makes you truly happy. Now visualize yourself doing that professionally. Imagine all the details you can—what do you see, smell, feel? Open your eyes and write it all down. Now begin thinking more tactically—what steps do you need to take to make that visualization happen? Read your reflection each day…that’s critically important. And then commit. Commit to yourself to do whatever you need to do to go get it!”—Lisa Kueng, executive director at Invesco Consulting and co-author of Picture Your Prosperity: Smart Money Moves to Turn Your Vision into Reality

“Too few people ever actually achieve their dreams in life. But, having them is important. Dreams inspire us…they are what we ponder as we look out onto the horizon. But that’s all they’ll ever be—a way to pass the time—until you turn them into actionable goals. Take those lofty dreams (the ones you’re afraid to tell anyone because they sound so far out of reach), break them down into phases, break those phases into pies, those pies into slices, and those slices into bites. Then sit down and take care of business—one bite at a time.”—MJ Hegar, former pilot in the Air National Guard who served in Afghanistan and whose suit against the Secretary of Defense led to the repeal of the military’s policy of excluding women from combat

“Your world is in your mind and you are more powerful than you think! Although you cannot control how life may unfold, you do have the power to choose how you respond. You experience your world through the lens of your mental models, which are deep-rooted ideas about the way things ought to be; what you fundamentally believe shapes your experience. And most importantly, your power comes from being who you are. By leveraging all of who you are—your core gifts and skills, your circumstances and experiences—you have the power to create amazing possibilities for your life.”—Elizabeth Thornton, professor of management practice at Babson Executive Education and author of The Objective Leader: How to Leverage the Power of Seeing Things As They Are

“Here are three of the most important steps you can take to build a prosperous life for yourself: First, spend less than you earn and save the difference on a regular basis. Next, give generously to people and causes that are most important to you—you should establish a regular giving plan by setting aside a percentage of your income to give. And finally, remember to picture your prosperity! You have an incredible ability to create the life you imagine for yourself. Use the power of your mind to focus on what is most important to you.”—Ellen Rogin, a certified public accountant and financial planner professional and co-author of Picture Your Prosperity: Smart Money Moves to Turn Your Vision into Reality

“There is no destination. While we can and should strive for growth, new ventures and goals, it is our relationship with ourselves on a daily basis and how we engage with the world that makes up our life. There is no great arrival point. Our greatest milestones pass in sheer moments, but the process is the in-between taking up the majority of our life. This is what requires our full attention. Many times we think once we get ‘there’ we will devote ourselves to priorities that whisper to us from the inside, but there is no ‘there’— only ‘here.’”—Azita Ardakani, founder of Lovesocial

Elizabeth Thornton will be speaking on the panel, “Pioneering Pay Equity: Strategies to Bridge the Gap, Own Your Value and Negotiate Your Worth,” and Ellen Rogin and Lisa Kueng will be leading the workshop, “Retirement Planning,” at the 2015 Pennsylvania Conference for Women.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Success & Leadership

The Rewards of Helping Women to Connect at Work

By Jennifer Hanson, Global Recruitment, GSK

I work for GSK, a global company that believes in building an inclusive culture that values differences and leveraging those differences to understand those we serve: patients and consumers. One avenue GSK supports is our many employee resource groups (ERGs). I am a member of global human resources operations and support consumer healthcare US ERGs as their HR advisor. I am pleased to be the co-lead for the “Consumer Healthcare’s Women’s Leadership Initiative” (WLI).

To provide context, GSK is an outstanding healthcare organization that embraces a culture of inclusion, with women and men working side by side in all levels of the organization, empowering women to realize their full potential without limitations. The WLI is an employee resource group whose mission is simple:

  • Connect: provide opportunities to develop networks, build relationships and share experiences to enrich members’ personal lives at all levels within GSK.
  • Engage: provide members with opportunities to collaborate with networks internally and externally and build confidence and experiences while helping to build trust and reputation of GSK in the communities in which we work and live.
  • Develop: build skills that will help members accelerate their development for leadership roles, enhance their use of these skills through coaching and mentoring and successfully contribute to the performance of GSK.

I became a member of WLI when it was brought under the ERG umbrella in 2011. Prior, it was a stand-alone affinity group. I was asked to represent my division on the WLI cxecutive steering committee and had the opportunity to interact with women across all divisions within GSK. Over the past four years, WLI has grown in membership and influence. My involvement with the Network of Executive Women (NEW), delivering development webinars and facilitating Q&A session amongst participants, has provided exposure to thought leaders in our industry. Being the liaison with the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA), attending their “Woman of the Year” annual luncheon and hosting speed networking meetings has provided opportunities to network with HBA and WLI members.

Over the past three years, we have developed a relationship with our local Dress for Success chapter, leading to a mentoring program and providing WLI members the opportunity to mentor Dress for Success clients. WLI also has a book club, and this year I volunteered to be a facilitator when we read Daniel Pink’s Drive (we’ve also read Sheryl Sandburg’s Lean In and Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly.) I have met women (virtually) from every division and level across GSK, and the safe environment to share experiences has produced dynamic and engaging conversations. I reached out to everyone at my site who is involved with the book club and we meet over lunch each month to discuss what we’ve learned. Feedback thus far has been extremely positive and our global book club steering committee considers it a best practice. Other sites are planning to implement site lunch and sharing!

It is critical for all employees to find opportunities to develop themselves that complement traditional programs. Employee resource groups enable self-development and the recognition I have received personally and professionally is priceless.

Sponsored by

GSK with TAG line 2014

Posted in Speaker Articles, Uncategorized

Want to Join a Corporate Board? Read This First

By Patricia Q. Connolly, Executive Director for the Center for Corporate Governance of Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business

Since I work so closely with boards on the best practices in corporate governance, I am often asked, “How do I get on a corporate board?” Before I offer any tips, I first warn them to make sure they are willing and able to accept such a big professional commitment.

The Considerations

On average, corporate board members are called upon to devote more than 200 hours to their duties each year—that’s a lot of hours on top of anyone’s full-time occupation and personal life. Furthermore, that doesn’t factor in unforeseen circumstances; for instance, Target’s board probably spent countless hours providing oversight for the cyber breach that affected up to 40 million credit and debit cards of its shoppers during the 2013 holiday shopping season.

In addition to the time commitment, there’s also the issue of liability. Corporate directors have a fiduciary duty to the shareholders to ensure that the corporation is managed with reasonable decision-making. Directors cannot just sit back and wait for whatever it is that the chief executive determines should come to the board; they must take a proactive role in assuring that the corporation has a governance structure that ensures risks are properly analyzed and the corporation has a clear, strategic plan for the future. Above all, directors must avoid circumstances that create a conflict of interest, or even the appearance of one, with their responsibility to shareholders.

Willing and Able

If you decide you are, in fact, ready to commit and invest your time to sitting on a board, I first suggest that you become thoroughly familiar with the leading practices in governance and conduct due diligence on the corporation you would like to be considered for. Studying the corporation’s proxy statement is a good place to start. If you make it to the interview process, keep in mind that it is a mutual education process. The best way to determine the culture of an organization and to conduct proper due diligence before deciding to join a board is by meeting its leadership, so I would encourage you to talk with several members of the “C-Suite” in addition to the CEO and those who comprise the nominating and governance committees.

I believe that serving on a board allows an individual to make a solid and lasting contribution to the corporate world and to society as a whole, and that it is a worthy ambition and a privilege to serve. Of course, there are the personal rewards including remuneration, career success and moving in a target-rich environment of key business and thought leaders. But as you sit at the boardroom table, representing the shareholders and ensuring their investment in the corporation is given the highest priority, board service is a meaningful way to develop both personally and professionally.

Patricia Q. Connolly works to develop strategic partnerships with public, private and nonprofit boards of directors to address best practices in board governance in her role at Drexel LeBow. She is a member of the Forum of Executive Women, a member of Women Corporate Directors (WCD) and co-chair of their Philadelphia Chapter. She serves on the board of Shore Medical Center and Chestnut Hill College. She is a certified governance trainer for BoardSource, a national organization dedicated to advancing board leadership and effective governance.

Sponsored by:

Drexel LeBow College of Business

Posted in Speaker Articles, Uncategorized

What Would You Have Done In Ellen Pao’s Shoes?

Ellen-PaoThe upside to Ellen Pao’s lawsuit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins: It brought workplace sexism out into the open, making it part of the national conversation for several weeks. But even after the court ruled against Pao, women everywhere continued to talk about the subtle and not-so-subtle forms of sex discrimination that take place in the office. What’s the best way to handle them? Could Pao have stood up for herself more?

“I believe women shouldn’t have to consider whether they confront sexual discrimination; I believe they should only have to figure out the most effective way to do so,” says Norine Yukon, former CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Texas and current board member for the Texas Conference for Women and several health care corporations. And that, of course, depends on the circumstances and your personal style. But generally speaking, here’s what Yukon and Victoria Pynchon, a lawyer and negotiation consultant, would have done in Pao’s shoes.

You are at a meeting and a man asks you—the only woman present—to take notes.

“I’m a lousy note-taker, so I can say in all honesty that I won’t take notes in fairness to the team.”—Yukon

“I have actually had this happen with a judge, and I responded: ‘I’d love to, Judge, but I’ve found that [a man in the room] is a far better note-taker than I am.’ After suggesting someone else, you could add an explanation, ‘Whenever I’m the note-taker I find it limits my ability to fully participate in the discussion.’ The key is to be respectful—and to praise something about the male replacement.”—Pynchon

You come to an important meeting and there is no seat for you at the table, so you’ll have to sit in a back row. Everyone else at your level is at the table.

“Good communication among team members is key, and communications are better when people can see and hear each other. Also, overt physical isolation can be more than symbolic and can impact decision-making. In this case, I would take a moment to scan the room and see who is sitting where, then pull a chair up to where I want to sit, squeezing in by asking folks to kindly make way. People will usuall find a way to make room for one more.”—Yukon

“Don’t let yourself be sidelined. Why? Because it’s difficult to be heard when you are sitting behind everyone else and it’s bad for your optics. Instead, ask the administrative personnel to please bring you a chair—don’t go get it yourself. You are an Alpha Dog, act like one at least until the revolution requires different behavior of the ruling class. But do remember to say please and thank you to the office staff.”—Pynchon

At meetings, you are constantly interrupted by men, or what you say is ignored.

“It is better to speak with the individuals privately first, and then if the behavior continues, call the offender out to his leader and to the group. I have always tried to not fight fire with fire, because that just ends up burning a lot of people. But I have to admit in some cases, the only way I could stop obnoxious male behavior was by sarcastically interrupting the interrupter.”—Yukon

“I’d say, ‘Excuse me, Joe, but I hadn’t finished what I was saying.’ And when they take credit for your idea, say, ‘Great add-on to what I was saying earlier, Joe; thanks for picking up where I left off.’”—Pynchon

You hear that a business dinner with important players is planned, and only men are invited.

“I would first try not to make any assumptions about the reasons I wasn’t invited. Then I’d go to the organizer of the dinner and ask how the invite list was put together. Depending on that response, I might ask to be included, or I might decide not to make an issue of it. You have to pick your battles because you can’t win them all.”—Yukon

“Go to the man you are closest to among invitees and say, ‘Hey Bob, I understand there’s a business dinner tonight with key players. I’ve got a half dozen questions for Harry, who I’ve become pretty tight with during the [case or some project]. It must have been an oversight to leave me off the guest list. Can you adroitly get me on it?’ This lets him and the group save face and consolidates your importance to the effort without having a confrontation about why you weren’t invited.”—Pynchon

On a chartered plane during a business trip, your male colleagues start talking about female porn stars and Victoria’s Secret models.

“I have been in many situations where inappropriate conversations were started. Almost without exception, I have been able to look these guys straight in the eyes and remind them that I am in the room and that the conversation should stop. Try not to be intimidated even if one of the guys is the boss. I also recommend personally following up with individuals who are ‘leading’ the inappropriate conversations.”—Yukon

“I’d say, ‘I’d love to give you a woman’s perspective on sex workers and soft porn but I’m afraid it would make all the guys uncomfortable’—thus making all the men uncomfortable. I guarantee you that they will change the subject and a few of the more conscious players will realize that making people uncomfortable in conversation is a two-way street, not a one way back alley.”—Pynchon

One day, you are informed that you are being moved to an office that is out of the way, toward the back of the building, away from the “power corridor.”

“Unless there is a construction or remodeling project underway that is causing physical disruption, I would take this as a potentially serious sign of a decision already concluded. To me, this is not limited to females, as I have seen it happen to both men and women who are either out of favor or who have been geographically demoted due to a new employee or new corporate structure. In any case, I would have a conversation with my boss to see what I could learn, and then I’d update my resume and start contacting recruiters.”—Yukon

“Never go with any ‘flow’ that marginalizes you. Instead go to a superior who has your back. Explain how the rearrangement hurts your group—so this isn’t about your ego—then say, ‘I’m happy to talk to HR myself but thought you might want to talk to Carol before I did. What do you think?’ In all of these conversations, you speak as a colleague from a position of power, not a position of weakness. You’re saying you can handle this yourself, but that you want to give a superior the opportunity to use her muscle.”—Pynchon

At the end of the day, our experts agree that speaking up for yourself is always better than keeping quiet. “It’s good to make an effort to grease the wheels of courteous social interaction,” Pynchon says, “but when people are being damaged, diminished or dismissed and polite conversation isn’t working, please feel free to make a ruckus.”

Just make sure that in your response, you “stay authentic, stay fair and stay true to your principles,” Yukon adds.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Uncategorized

Micro-Workouts: The Secret of Busy, Fit Women

Sure, hour-long workouts are great if you have the time. But for the other 362 days of the year, you need to exercise more efficiently. Hello, Micro-Workouts! “The idea, backed by science, is that if you work out smarter, you don’t have to work out longer,” says Chris Jordan, director of exercise physiology at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute and creator of the original 7-minute workout that was featured in the New York Times.

Fast Track to Health

The key is interval training: alternating bursts of high intensity activity with brief recovery periods. “One minute of vigorous exercise is approximately equivalent to two minutes of moderate exercise, so you can get the same, if not greater, returns in less time,” Jordan explains.

You can shave off even more time with the right sequence of exercises. “You’ll work harder and need less recovery time with each individual exercise if those muscles get a relief when you move to the next exercise,” Jordan says. In other words, you save time by overlapping recovery periods with your active minutes.

7 Mighty Minutes

So how short can you go with your workout and still have it count? “Some exercise—even a few minutes—is always better than nothing,” Jordan says. But for a complete body workout, he found seven minutes to be the optimal minimum.

His 7-minute training plan works all the major muscle groups and involves 12 simple exercises (think jumping jacks and wall sits). You do them in 30-second bursts, alternating with 5-second transition periods. The best thing about the workout: Jordan created it with the working person in mind, so it can be done in an office or cubicle—and you don’t need any special equipment or clothes. “I’ve actually done it in a suit, but you probably don’t want to do it in a dress or skirt,” he adds.

Get the free “Johnson & Johnson Official 7-Minute Workout.” (It includes more than 20 different body weight circuits for beginners to advanced exercisers.)

Beyond Calorie Burning

Microbursts are also a great way to boost energy throughout the day. “Imagine how you feel standing up and going for a walk after sitting for a while,” Jordan says. “That’s all it takes to promote blood circulation and push more glucose and oxygen around the body.”

To rev your metabolism, break up long periods of sitting with short bursts of activity such as standing and walking to the bathroom or up and down a flight of stairs. “Ideally, you want to be getting up for a couple of minutes at least every hour,” Jordan adds. Stuck in a chair during a marathon meeting? Try stretching your back and shoulders and discreetly raising your knees up and down under the table as though you’re marching. You will relieve tension—and may feel like you could hoof a real marathon.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Uncategorized

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