Staying Power: How to Identify and Avoid Career Derailers,” says Ross, showed her that “when you make mistakes, you can still be eloquent and pick your emotional self off the ground.” She adds: “It made me feel good that there were other women who could identify with what I’ve gone through. I realized that this is the culture of corporate America, and there are other women who have surpassed and overcome those same obstacles.”
In the panel “Getting Noticed: How to Cultivate and Leverage the Right Relationships,”
Deborah Elam, chief diversity officer of General Electric Co., suggested that black female professionals be supportive of each other and share resources. As an example, Elam discussed how she and Carla Harris, managing director of Global Capital Markets for Morgan Stanley, provided each other with mutually beneficial information and contacts. She has invited Harris to a number of high-powered events such as the GE Women’s Network, a gathering that has included valued clients and partners from Morgan Stanley. Harris used that platform to laud Elam’s professional achievements. Such exchanges are important, Elam maintains, because “we only have one generation of relationships with African Americans on any [corporate] level, so it’s up to us to maintain, nurture, and help them grow.”
During the Entrepreneurs Master Class hosted by Verizon, attendees discussed the challenges and sacrifices of entrepreneurship. The session featured a quartet of female business owners: Lisa Price, president and founder of Carol’s Daughter Inc., a personal and beauty care products manufacturer; Iman, the former model who runs IMAN Cosmetics, Skincare & Fragrances; Amy Hilliard, CEO of The ComfortCake Co.; and Janice Bryant Howroyd, chairwoman and CEO of The Act 1 Group, a temporary services agency and the largest BE 100S company owned by a woman. All offered stories of perseverance.
Hilliard, a single mother of two, recounted how she sold her home to start her enterprise. Attendees also learned that Valerie Mosley Diamond, SVP & Fixed Income Portfolio Manager for Wellington Management, helped fund Hilliard’s company during the startup stage.
“We were very proud of the women in this audience,” said Bryant Howroyd, “and although the women commented on their pride in us, the women on the panel agreed that they were lifted up by them. We received as much, if not more, than we gave.”
The summit wasn’t all business. The event honored the first group of BE Legacy Award recipients: Johnnetta B. Cole, president of Bennett College for Women; Ernesta Procope, president and CEO of E.G. Bowman & Co Inc.; Joyce Roché, president and CEO of Girls Inc.; and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif).
A luncheon honoring BE’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business was hosted by BMW North America, and Gayle King, editor-at-large of O, The Oprah Magazine, handled the mistress of ceremonies duties. At the luncheon, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin inspired attendees with her keynote speech about work and life balance.
Activities included yoga and belly dancing in the morning, golf and tennis tune-up sessions in the afternoon, and a BMW-sponsored ride-and-drive to round off the festivities.