Hundreds Gather to Hear Lessons from Women in Leadership at School’s Annual Conference
School of Business Dean Eugene Anderson giving opening
A panel of top women business leaders doled out advice drawn from their varied experiences in the workplace at the School of Business Administration’s annual Women in Leadership Conference, a community event that brought nearly 300 business women from downtown Miami for an inspiring night of learning and networking. This year’s topic, Transforming Business in the Americas: Lessons for Women in Leadership, presented insights not only on what women need to do to make it to the next level, but also on navigating the evolving but still male-dominated culture in Latin America.
“It’s so important for the business leaders of tomorrow to understand the benefits of diversity and how to work in diverse environments,” School of Business Dean Eugene Anderson said. “The University of Miami is the most diverse and dynamic institution of its kind in the world, and at the business school, we have a role to play in achieving greater diversity and getting more women into the C-suite and boardroom.”
Jennifer Valoppi, founder and president of the Women of Tomorrow Mentor & Scholarship Program, moderated the discussion among panelists Beatriz Sanchez, chairwoman of private wealth management for Goldman Sachs; Romaine Seguin, president of Americas region, UPS International; Nancy Anderson Bolton, senior director of Americas Society/Council of Americas; Laura Maydon, managing director of Endeavor Miami; and Brenda Yester-Baty, president of the University of Miami Alumni Association and the University of Miami Board of Trustees.
From left to right: Moderator Jennifer Valoppi and panelists Beatriz
Panelists began by defining the problems women face today in the workplace. “In the 1980s, there was overt sexism,” Sanchez said. “What we have today is much more complex and subtle. There is an unconscious gender bias.”
Managers, Sanchez said, assume women won’t want an overseas job or large project because they have children or a husband at home. “We are limited sometimes not by choice but by assumption,” she said. “We advance less quickly than we should or get paid less than we should.”
Women navigating the business world need to take risks, convey confidence and identify mentors. They also need to support one another. “There’s a competition out there, but we need to move beyond that,” Bolton said. “We are our own worst enemies. “
Conducting business in Latin America is commonplace for those working in Miami, and the panelists discussed the challenges presented by a traditionally male-dominated culture and assessed its progression toward gender equality. “I demand respect; I will just walk out of a meeting if I’m not getting the same level of respect as gentlemen,” Seguin said to applause. “But if someone on a senior level gets treated like that, how do you think a front-line supervisor gets treated?”
Valoppi pointed out that while women in Latin America have made headway politically, they still don’t hold seats on very many boards. Sanchez offered hope that this might be changing. “I’m seeing more and more women,” Sanchez said. “Latin America is showing the largest growth in narrowing the gender gap.”
One highlight of conducting business there, according to Bolton, is the emphasis they place on relationships. “Women are more driven to form those relationships, and it makes me passionate about the region,” Bolton said.
The panelists, no surprise, are hot on Miami, which they view as a young and growing city ripe with opportunities. School of Business students Erica Mangino and Brooke Carter, graduating in May 2016 with their Masters of Science in Business Analytics, were there to learn about those opportunities and find out how they, as women, could make an impact in their field. “I’m interested in seeing how to expand the barriers,” Carter said.