Careers, Challenges, and Context: The 5th Annual Women and Leadership Workshop
By Stephanie Haft ’15
The Women and Leadership Workshop began the afternoon of Friday, February 7 with lunch in the Claremont McKenna College Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum – an opportunity for attendees to satiate their physical appetites as well as their hunger for meaningful knowledge from leaders across the Claremont Colleges. The keynote speaker for the lunch was Michelle Bauman, a 1989 graduate of Claremont McKenna College who now works as a personal and executive life coach. Bauman has been the founder and leader of such women’s coaching groups as “Creating your Life from the Inside/out,” and “Self-Mastery for the Professional Woman.” The title of her address “Creating a Context for Success: Leading Yourself So You Can Lead Others” focused on a key part of KLI’s competency model “leading self” or personal leadership development and then applying those skills to “leading others” and eventually, “leading organizations.” Bauman talked about the importance of having a flexible/growth mindset, as opposed to a fixed mindset, to allow for growth as well as setting a frame of mind in which to view successes or failures.
A networking reception as well as roundtable discussion followed the lunch. The workshop was a joint endeavor with the Robert Day School of Economics and the Berger Institute for Work, Family, and Children. Sara Thompson, Director of Leadership Programs at KLI, and Jessica Azerad ’17 acted as the KLI representatives for planning the workshop. Azerad explained the importance of the workshop as a key component of furthering KLI’s mission and goals:
The goal of this event was to create a safe and open environment for students of the 7C’s to discuss the experiences of women professionals today. These women professionals are each leaders in their fields and thus it follows with KLI’s mission to give CMC students the opportunity to speak with and learn from current leaders so that we can grow as leaders.
Indeed, the roundtable discussions proved to be a valuable part of the agenda. The discussions included experienced female alumnae and leaders from many fields, ranging from government to media to science. This gave students the opportunities to ask professionals how they arrived at their current positions, what difficulties they faced in achieving those positions, as well as what on-campus resources students should use to advance their own personal and professional development. Most of the professionals were alumnae who ranged in graduation year from 1981 — CMC’s second coeducational class —to 2009. This offered a diverse range of background stories and pathways to success, and allowed students to connect with a woman professional who shared his or her interests.
Although the Workshop is the “Women” and Leadership Workshop, a few male students still attended and greatly enjoyed the afternoon. Pieter Cornel ’14, for instance, explained that the workshop was helpful for understanding the challenges women face in the professional world, and also provided lessons in balancing life and work. “As a graduating senior,” Cornel explained, “work-life balance is something I have been thinking about a lot recently, and the feedback from the alumnae I talked to was great.”
The Kravis Leadership Institute and the Women and Leadership Alliance look forward to bringing the lessons and energy from the workshop into other campus organizations, and will continue to promote growth and learning about women leadership development. Other upcoming events from the Women and Leadership Alliance include a screening of Honor Diaries on Friday March 7, which spotlights Muslim women-rights advocates, as well as a “Preparing Women to Lead” conference by The Public Leadership Education Network in Washington, D.C.