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“Be true to yourself”: lessons from our women in leadership panel

27 April 2016

Earlier in April, we hosted our inaugural "Lessons from Female Leadership" panel in New York to illuminate some big questions facing women in business today. The panel offered a refreshing perspective on what can be done to not only improve the makeup of the workforce, but the work itself.

Moderated by Emily Abramson, Essence's Associate Director of Talent Development and Culture, our very own Cathy Carl, Global Marketing Director and North America Business Development lead, was joined by Alex Bruell, Lead Agency Reporter at Ad Age, Meredith Levien, Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer of The New York Times Company, and Gayle Fuguitt, CEO and President of the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF).

Our four panelist provided a wealth of insights not only into their experiences as female leaders but also into how their generations, personalities, opportunities and support networks may have affected those experiences.

Meredith Levien asked the room, for instance: “Do women have to be men to succeed in a man’s world, do what men do?” Gayle Fuguitt responded that she learned how to play golf during her 32 years at General Mills. For Alex Bruell, success lies in surrounding herself with inspiring people, like mentors, who can help support with career choices. Gayle echoed this sentiment and shared one of the best pieces of advice she's ever received: "Be true to yourself."

Meredith Levien took the discussion to hiring and managing new employees: "Talent is key. I would rather wrestle a bear than flog a dead horse." Cathy Carl weighed in that companies need "to take bigger bets on women who have proven themselves." If the societal and corporate structures aren’t in place to create more opportunities for diverse workforces, then it’s up to the leaders themselves to seek out diversity in applicants. 

Thank you, Alex, Meredith, Gayle, and Cathy, for sharing your lessons and experiences with us. We're looking forward to the next panel.