No one is saying that getting through our current economic situation will be easy. On the contrary, the consensus is that daunting challenges await us. On January 21, 2009, nearly forty women welcomed pragmatic suggestions from three savvy panelists presenting on the topic “Tough Economy, Smart Solutions.” The Commonwealth Institute (TCI), which holds monthly meetings for high-level women executives, hosted the event with the Department of Advancement, Alumni, and Corporate Relations in the College of Business Administration.
Joyce J. Elam, executive dean of the business school, told the audience to reinforce their core business by concentrating as many resources as possible on playing to win in their main field of competition, to be smart about cost reductions by focusing on where to streamline and restructure rather than making across-the-board cuts, and to “recognize that in a recession, there may be opportunities, so take the time to discover yours.”
Effective communication emerges as key component for success.
Julie Neitzel, president, GenSpring Family Offices, a wealth management firm, urged attendees to make sure that they develop a realistic plan to weather the current economic storm by carefully assessing one’s personal and business cash flow; increase their sales and marketing efforts to try to gain more market share; to communicate with employees, customers, and suppliers, because taking the extra effort can pay off in different ways; and to take action instead of allowing themselves to be paralyzed by fear.
Also, Joanna Schwartz, managing director, Silver Hill Financial, a commercial real estate lender, reminded the group that when they have to make a hard decision, they may be too close to the situation and should seek an unbiased opinion. In addition, she explained that when you are going through tough times in the electronic age—with its blogs and speedy transmission of information—it’s important that the message always comes directly from you to your employees.
Among those attending the event were a number of alumnae from the college including Monique Catoggio (EMBA ’03), director of advancement and alumni relations; Leslie Hulser (IMBA ’08), program coordinator, international affairs and projects; Dean’s Council member Liz Parnes (BBA ’77), president, E C Parnes & Associates; and Cathy Pareto (EMBA ’06), president, Cathy Pareto and Associates.
“This was the first TCI meeting I attended and I instantly realized the strength of this women’s organization,” Hulser said. “I appreciated hearing from three wonderful speakers with experience in different sectors.”
Since 2006, TCI has partnered with the college, and Florida International University’s Center for Leadership and Metropolitan Center in an annual survey of women-led businesses in Florida with revenues of $3 million or more.
For more information about The Center for Leadership (CFL), visit http://lead.fiu.edu/. The Center for Leadership (CFL), Florida International University conducts research and leadership programs to help organizations rapidly and predictably build leadership capacity. The Center’s unique approach to executive education designs and facilitates highly-customized, practical programs that weave together theory, real-world application, reflection, and feedback.