Speaker Jennifer Povlitz (far right) encourages students to create and uphold company values in their future workplaces. From left to right: Kimber Maderazzo, Larraine Segil, Liz Musch, Joan Herman and Jennifer Povlitz
Photos by Lindsey Sullivan
Female executives and members of C200, an all-women’s global leadership organization, shared their experience and expertise to aspiring business leaders at the Women in Leadership Conference on Tuesday in Smothers Theatre.
The Pepperdine Graziadio Business School and its dean, Deryck van Rensburg, hosted C200 along with a number of their executive leaders like Larraine Segil, Chair and CEO of the Exceptional Women Awardees Foundation and adjunct professor at the Straus Center for Conflict Management, as well as Kimber Maderazzo, Chair of C200 and professor at Graziadio.
“I think it’s important to see other women who have succeeded,” Graziadio student Kirti Yelamanchili said. “It motivates you to take the same path and move forward.”
C200 began in 1982 with 200 female members and has since expanded to 550 women around the globe who are innovators, influencers and mentors. Maderazzo said the organization has over $1.4 trillion in annual revenues with over 2.5 million people employed by their members.
“I feel like I get to get a little piece of the knowledge and experience that all of these wonderful women have and get to see how they got to the positions that they’re in,” Graziadio student Brittney Garza said.
The conference featured a panel of executives who shared their experiences in intertwining profit and purpose into business and how businesses can benefit from purpose-focused value systems.
Segil said her best advice for leaders is to pursue business out of passion and put energy into that.
“People care about brands — consumers are voting with their wallets,” Segil said. “People are prepared to spend 30-to-50% more on something because it is labeled organic. It’s about the value; it’s the wave of what’s going on.”
Liz Musch, former CEO for several companies and now Global Strategic Advisor for Liberman Research Worldwide, said corporate leaders have both the capability and responsibility to upset Wall Street.
“As leaders, we have the power to declare what the values of the company are and get the people involved,” Musch said. “My advice is to make the choice to talk about things, make the right choices, stand up for the right things and start now — don’t wait until you’re powerful.”
Jennifer Povlitz, division director at UBS Financial Services, echoed this sentiment and said that purpose is a powerful change agent. Povlitz also highlighted the importance of recognizing that the values a company creates, promotes and allows defines the culture of that business.
Segil and other panelists agreed that making alliances with men in business is one key to success.
“I think it’s cool to see these women are taking the steps to break those barriers and that there is this whole audience of women who want to be a part of that,” Garza said. “They want to break those barriers as well and start setting up the future of even representation of women.”
The second panel discussed how to build strategic networks and the importance of networking.
Kate Duchene, CEO of RGP, a global consulting firm for finance executives, said her best advice is to be patient, plant seeds and think about what you can do for others rather than what they can do for you.
Another panelist Bridget Baker, co-founder of CNBC and CEO of Baker Media, Inc., said that learning to ask questions is a huge area of development for many women as well as the foundation for building and leveraging networks.
“In this environment, in C200, in women in business, you do have to do some of this — leverage this network,” Baker said. “And just ask for what you’re trying to achieve, or make it known somehow that you would like to go to this next level or be introduced to this person.”
The panel also talked about the importance of diversity and inclusion as not just stated in corporate values but evidenced in leadership. Duchene said she recommends consumers and business leaders to do the research to verify that businesses platitudes align with corporate actions.
“In a company like [mine], I have an eight-person executive team, and half of the executive team is women, and three out of the eight are minorities, and that speaks volumes,” Duchene said. “It doesn’t matter what we wrote down — it’s like, ‘Who do I want in the room to solve problems?’ and it doesn’t do any of us any good if everybody’s perspective is the same as mine.”
The final panel included a discussion on entrepreneurship, and the conference closed with C200 awarding three $10,000 scholarships to Graziadio students to support their education and business endeavors.
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