“Women can be over-mentored in the workplace, but under-sponsored. We can change this by using our success to hire and advocate for other women to have a seat at the table.”
More than 400 Wharton women (and men!) gathered at The Union League of Philadelphia for the Wharton Women’s Summit in September 2016 to hear from female business leaders across industries from global firms to fledgling startups.
Alana Zola, WG’18, gives five takeaways from an amazing day of stimulating conversations, startup presentations, and inspiring keynotes from Wharton Women in Business.

1. Think ahead

CEO of the World Bank Group, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, Keiko Honda, opened the summit by sharing her experiences navigating the male-dominated world of consulting and finance in Asia. She encouraged us to think about where we see ourselves in 10 to 20 years, how we plan to measure our success, and make that our driver.

2. Seek diverse advisors

There are no rules in cultivating your board of mentors and advisors, according to the “Building Your Personal Board of Directors” panel moderated by Maryellen Reilly, Deputy Vice Dean at The Wharton School. Your board of directors can be junior or senior, female or male, expert or generalist, permanent or guest star. Through seeking diverse perspectives, we build stronger resources for tackling a much wider range of problems and are better able to complement our own skills.

3. Use the “Why” rule

Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture North America, shared a strategy she used early in her career: the “Why” rule. “Why did a client act that way in a meeting?” “Why did my manager use this number instead of that number?” By asking “why,” we can learn about the broader context and focus beyond just the task at hand.

4. Have flexible goals

CEO of Tracy Anderson Maria Baum talked about her decision to resign from her dream job on Wall Street and embrace a life of entrepreneurship. Baum said that she realized her goals had changed and that she no longer wanted to be in the fast-paced, high-stress world of finance as she was raising her family. However, she didn’t want to leave the workforce either so she directed her skills to helping entrepreneurs build their businesses. She suggested that we apply lessons from the finance world to our own lives: constantly reassess your personal portfolio and cut your losses when you have to.

5. Pay it forward

Women can be over-mentored in the workplace, but under-sponsored, according to the “What’s Holding Women Back?” panel moderated by former Wharton School Vice Dean Monica McGrath. We can change this by using our success to hire and advocate for other women to have a seat at the table — there is room for more than one female at the table!

Originally published on the WWIB blog September 25, 2016.

Posted: February 27, 2017

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