Women take “fearless” stand at FIU Business’ Power Up Women’s Summit.

Women take "fearless" stand at FIU Business' Power Up Women's Summit.

Women take "fearless" stand at FIU Business' Power Up Women's Summit.

For many women, the road to success remains impacted by hurdles, among them a confidence gap. But courage, determination and leadership skills will help propel them to the top of their game, and move them forward to their goals.

That was the key message at FIU Business’ 2018 Power Up! Women’s Leadership Summit, held March 8, 2018, International Women’s Day. Speakers shared personal experiences and inspiration, serving as role models and mentors for participants at the all-day event, which took place at the Hilton Miami Downtown and was presented by FIU Business and its Alumni Association.

“The time has arrived – stand together and be strong!” FIU Business Dean Joanne Li told the crowd of over 200 participants as she urged them to stand and join her in the “Fearless Girl” pose to start the conference. The bronze sculpture of a girl facing the Charging Bull statue on Wall Street has become a worldwide symbol of women’s empowerment.

Maria Elena Toraño called for women to move forward, seek opportunities and remain fearless.

Energizing and motivational speakers shared insights on topics including conquering corporate challenges, the power of negotiation, opportunities in entrepreneurship, and challenges and advantages of working in non-diverse industries.

In “Confidence con Cafecito,” Maria Elena Toraño, a groundbreaking Miami executive and entrepreneur whose influence extended to the national level, called for women to move forward, seek opportunities and remain fearless. She set the tone for the consensus of the event: women must own their strengths and understand what they’re worth. That will open the door to ask for what they want.

“You’ve got to persevere through the feeling of otherness. Stop listening to the bad,” said Emily Gresham, co-founder of StartUP FIU, a university-wide initiative to foster innovation and entrepreneurship. “Perseverance is important when you’re swimming with the sharks, or swimming in general.”

Sharing information and inspiration

It was a celebratory day that featured many small moments of quiet inspiration and mentoring. FIU Business alumna Diane Ramy Faulconer, a successful health care executive, took time to gather with a group of FIU student to hear their goals and encourage them to reach high.

The event’s keynote panel, “Powering Up Our Influence,” featured five women who “beat the odds.”

“You can’t run and hide,” said Yolanda Nader (BA ’79, MBA ’86), CEO of Dosal Tobacco, who shared the obstacles she faced and how she overcame them. “Decide what you want and go for it. You have to empower yourself. You are your best champion.”

Two FIU Business alumni stepped in with support and treats for the attendees: Misha Kuryla (MIB ’04), founder of Misha’s Cupcakes, who sponsored the closing reception and provided cupcakes for all guests, and Yosef Martin (BBA ’07), CEO of BoxyCharm, who provided a beauty box for each attendee.

“Power Up creates a sense of community for many women looking for new avenues for sharing strategies and exploring new roads to success,” said Yanyn San Luis.

FIU Business’ Women’s Alumni Council founded Power Up! in 2016 as a half-day conference designed to bring tools for success to their fellow alumni and the wider community. Last year, it expanded to a full-day event, themed “The Power of You.”

“Power Up creates a sense of community for many women looking for new avenues for sharing strategies and exploring new roads to success,” said Yanyn San Luis (BA ’10, MBA ’16), director of alumni relations for FIU Business.

Next year’s Power Up Women’s Summit is scheduled for March 8, 2019, with additional Power Up events taking place throughout the year. For more information about FIU’s Power Up Women’s Summit initiatives, visit powerupsummit.fiu.edu.

In Their Own Words:

  • “Own your strengths and understand what you’re worth” – Barbara Pestana (BBA ’01), Vice President, L’Oreal
  • “Be fearless in your pursuit to become a trailblazing disruptor” – Diane Ramy Faulconer (’74, MS ’74), former nurse and healthcare executive
  • “Speak up. Have a ferocious desire to learn” – Tere Blanca, CEO, Blanca Commercial Real Estate
  • “Speaking declaratively is essential” – Lourdes Hilliard (MBA ’00) founder, The Brand Protected
  • “Democracy is not a spectator sport. Every single woman in this room is just as qualified as the male elected representatives in our state of Florida. If you are pissed off, do something about it. Run for something.” – Gloria Romero Roses (BBA ’92), managing partner, Nexus Living.

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