Last week I had the privilege to attend the Professional Business Women of California or PBWC conference in downtown San Francisco through my Women’s Resource Council at work. Overall the PBWC’s goals are to provide business women with greater overall business skills and acumen, a broader group of women to network with, along with inspiring and developing women into their full potential.
I had personally never heard of the PBWC until I was invited to attend the conference, however after reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” I have started to become a big advocate on focusing more on being a woman in business. For this I am not only focusing on using the resources around me to learn ways to progress my career further, but also how within my current position I can help other up and coming young women fulfill their great potential.
The conference started with a breakfast bright and early at 7:00am which consisted of baked goods, fruit to grab, and coffee. I grabbed a banana and coffee before making my way into the giant lecture room for the opening seminar with a couple of my fellow co-workers. Over 5,000 women showed up to the conference so the room was a packed house!
The first speaker series of the morning started at 8:30am. Over the 2 hours there were several keynote speakers. The first speaker was Congresswoman of California Jackie Speier, followed by Dr. Elizabeth Lindsay and Charlotte Beers who was named “the most powerful woman in advertising.” Finishing up the morning was Arianna Huffington the editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group. Over the entire day Arianna ended up being my favorite speaker by far, so I will probably spend the most time writing about her.
I had just recently seen Arianna speak at an event in San Francisco where she was being interviewed by Sheryl Sandberg and talked about her new book “Thrive”. Arianna was absolutely memorizing the first time I saw her speak and the second time was as equally enthralling. What I like most about Arianna is her emphasis on the importance of something I am a big believer in when it comes to work and life and that is balance. She challenges people to think beyond work and power as success, but evaluate success on a different level, one of which is someone’s wellbeing. I started reading her book after the first time I saw her speak and so far so good!
After the first series there were breakout sessions with 10 different options to choose from. I went with the “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds” by Marianne Cooper was the lead researcher for Sheryl Sandberg’s book. She talked about gender, family life, work, and social inequality. Marianne really emphasized on how in America middle and low income women typically are the head of households when it comes to managing the families’ finances and how when a family goes through a financial hardship the women take on all of the financial stress themselves. The lecture was not what I was expecting, but I found it to be interesting and applicable.
Next up was a lunch break followed by another speaker series breakout. For this one I chose “Positioning Yourself for Success” by Luanne Tierney the Vice President of Worldwide Partner Marketing, Juniper Networks. Here Luanne emphasized how in modern business with all of the social media outlets there really is not break between professional and personal life. How now in order to succeed you can’t treat them as separate entities, but instead need to focus on what you want your brand to be. Everything she talked about was definitely suitable to me and I found her to be smart while also entertaining.
The last part of the day was a panel discussion with various women executives from around the bay area, which after just being on a panel discussion at work it gave me a deep respect for the women up there. It was nice to hear from these successful women how they got to where they are now, what we can do to help ourselves, and how to manage everything work and life throws at you.
The final speaker of the day was the famous actress Diane Keaton, who is just as cooky and eccentric as most of the characters she plays. Diane has just written a new book entitled “Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty.” I of course ended up having to buy the book, which looks like it is coming in with mixed reviews on amazon, and waited in line to get it signed. After the book signing there was a wine reception, which of course I had to partake in. Overall the day was a great one filled with inspiring and motivational women, something I myself strive to be.