As successful career women demonstrated at the “Women Who Lead” conference recently, they take their responsibility to female students seriously—as role models, mentors, or both.
“I had several women mentors along the way who took the time to share their journeys, and that is why it’s important for me to give back to other women,” said Maria Hernandez, director, executive for Central American Region, IBM Corp.
“Although I had excellent mentors throughout my career, there were very few role models,” said Carmen M. Perez (BBA ’82), president, FPL FiberNet. “A conference such as this one allows students to get exposed to the many different roles women play these days.”
Hernandez and Perez were among the leaders—from business, law, public health, politics, athletics, and other sectors—who showed women students the opportunities that await them. Organized by the Women’s Center at Florida International University, the conference on February 29, 2008, included panels, workshops, a speech titled “Vote, Run, Lead,” and networking. Approximately 425 students attended.
“The college has a strategic initiative around female leadership development and we want to make sure we address all constituencies,” said Joyce J. Elam, executive dean, College of Business Administration, who moderated a panel on entrepreneurship. “We’ve run a program for high-potential women who already are established leaders and we felt it was important to have a dialogue with students to alert them to the career possibilities open to them.”
Deanne Butchey (PhD ’05), academic director, Advancement for Quality, moderated a panel on finance, on which Perez spoke; and Irma Becerra-Fernández, (PhD ’94), faculty director, Master of Science in Management Information Systems, moderated the IT panel on which Hernandez served.
Target audience appreciates the outreach.
Janaé Mitchell, a student in the college’s Master of International Business (MIB) program, found it “inspiring to see so many dynamic and phenomenal women making a real difference by dispelling archaic and antiquated notions about women in their respective fields.”
She also understood the importance of mentoring.
“A critical component of my professional growth and development is having someone to help me identify potential learning opportunities, widen my exposure, and provide candid feedback regarding my strengths and weaknesses,” she said.
According to Elam, “It was a natural that we participate because of our strong relationship with women in our community, including the twelve women business leaders whom Natalia Echeverría Sol, director of advancement and corporate relations, invited to participate.”
Irma Becerra-Fernández, Joyce J. Elam, and