Empowered! The Impact of KDR 2016
We asked four diverse women to share with Illumine how the 24th Kravis-de Roulet Conference: Women’s Leadership Journey’s Revealed impacted them. Lauren Mounts ’18 is a sophomore at CMC majoring in International Relations and Economics, Jiin Jung is a doctoral student in social psychology at Claremont Graduate University, Barbara Duggan is Senior Litigation Counsel, Employment, Investigation, and Brand Security at HP Inc., and Suvena Yerneni ’18 is a sophomore at Claremont McKenna College (CMC) majoring in Economics. Although these women come from diverse background and varying levels of professional experience, they share at least one thing in common: they left KDR feeling empowered and eager to embark on their own leadership journey’s. Click here to watch the conference highlights.
What feeling did you have walking away from KDR2016?
Lauren: Empowered. Going into the day I was skeptical that the conference would offer insights or present a message that I had not heard before. I was pleasantly surprised. Hearing multiple impressive and confident woman speak about both their successes and failures in their life left me feeling capable of succeeding in whatever I put my mind to, and that I am in charge of my own story.
Jiin: I had this feeling of being empowered and inspired. I felt that I am eternally indebted and grateful to the women leaders who paved the way for us younger women.
Barbara: It was inspiring. I felt this was the strongest lineup of speakers I had seen at a conference in a long time. These women have made a profound difference in the world, each in a unique and special way.
Suvena: Inspired. It’s motivating to hear women say that anything is possible and that any goal can be fulfilled but it was especially encouraging to hear alumni from CMC say it, because it makes it all the more conceivable to actualize those ambitions.
Who was your favorite speaker? What about them or their talk resonated with you?
Lauren: Joanna Barsh, whose talk was entitled “Mind the Gap: Young Leaders Show the Way.” Besides being what I thought was the liveliest speaker of the day, she spoke on a topic that resonated with me personally: how companies around the world need to adjust and change to be better suited for incoming young leaders, aka “Millennials”.
Jiin: Linda Carli and Crystal Hoyt’s talks were very complementary. Linda Carli nicely summarized women leadership from the perceiver’s perspective and Crystal Hoyt did from actors’ perspective. The misfit between the female stereotype and leader stereotype implies that we really need to, and can, change our stereotypical beliefs about what effective leadership is.
Barbara: Linda Carli and Barbara Barrett were my favorites. With Linda, I appreciated her research, with which I was not familiar before because I am in a different field. With Barbara, I was so impressed with what she has done with her life and how much she has contributed to womankind.
Suvena: Linda Carli’s talk on “Women and the Labyrinth of Leadership”. Her comparison of the obstacles that women confront professionally to a labyrinth was especially intriguing. She also explained that women are in a double bind, having to walk the line between “communal” and “agentic” in order to be perceived as effective leaders.
What insights did you gain from KDR2016?
Lauren: The realization that I am in charge of my own personal and professional life, and no one else. There may be certain obstacles I face that men do not, simply due to the fact that I am a woman, however I cannot let these stand in my way and I can overcome these with grace and integrity.
Jiin: To advance women leadership to one step further, we need to form coalitions. Living as minority sometimes gives us this feeling that our own minority is more of victim than other minorities. Each minority group has their own struggles and difficulties; however, I am sure there is more common ground we share.
Barbara: I learned something new in each and every session. Even though I consider myself a professional with a lot of life and work experiences, this conference proved that there is always something more to learn and experience.
Suvena: Barbara Barrett explained that one’s career path is not a straight one; it’s a web. One thing leads to another, and we never know where we may end up. Life is unpredictable, we may construct this whole path for ourselves, but it is naïve to think that we will stick to that path and that path only. Regardless of what comes our way, we should take advantage and make the most of it.
What did you take home from KDR2016 that you can implement today? What about in the future?
Lauren: The reality that in order to take charge of your own life and career as a woman, I need to not be afraid to ask for what I want or need. I sometimes struggle to ask for things or to insert my opinions due to fear of rejection or failure. I am determined to break this pattern now so that it does not hold me back in my professional career.
Jiin: My perspective toward other women changed. I thought of my mother and grandmothers differently. I am from South Korea. During the era my grandmothers were born women’s rights were profoundly suppressed. I had thought their generation reluctantly conformed to the gender norms of the society. Now I realize that they resisted in their own way; they had their daughters educated and taught their sons to respect women. They planted seeds of hope and it is my responsibility to cultivate the hope.
Barbara: Women have to use different strategies than men to get ahead and be heard, strategies I now know and can teach to women I mentor now and in the future.
Suvena: There are countless forms of leadership: the kind which enables one to reach ambassador status or be an esteemed managing director on Wall Street, or the kind that inspires you to do research on leadership self-efficacy or study the qualities that enable women to be better leaders. All in all, there is not one way to be a leader.
How did the conference change the way you view women’s leadership?
Lauren: Being a leader, especially as a woman, does not just mean being the boss of dozens of people or being the CEO of a company, but that it also means taking control of your personal and professional life and pursuing your goals to the best of your ability with integrity. Also, if you are in the only woman in the room, use this to your advantage, you have a different perspective to offer.
Jiin: This completely changed the way I look at women’s leadership. I have to admit that I had stereotypes about who leaders are and how they should behave. The women leaders at KDR completely destroyed the stereotypes I had. They were well-experienced like Betsy Berkheimer-Credaire and young like Arielle Zuckerberg. They were calm but witty like Audrey Bilger (Don’t feed the trolls!) and exciting but profound like Joanna Barsh. They were deliberate and reasoned like Tina Daniels and of full throttle like Lydia Kennard. Now I see women’s leadership with a wider range of complexity and diversity.
Barbara: Women can be and are in fact great leaders, and women have certain qualities that can make them better leaders than men. Further, I now understand better the reasons behind the missteps that I have seen particular female leaders make in the past.
Suvena: Connie Duckworth spoke to us about her journey as the first female partner of Goldman Sachs to her current position as CEO and founder at ARZU. Her experience as a leader in two vastly different fields reinforces that leadership is not limited to remunerative fields, but to all fields where there is a need for change and direction.