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Betsy Holden '82, senior adviser to McKinsey and Co., delivered a keynote address April 26 at the Kellogg Women's Leadership Workshop.

Intensive Kellogg workshop offers leadership resources for women

Top faculty help participants at annual Kellogg program ‘unlock potential’ for richer lives

By Adrienne Murrill

4/29/2008 - Some of the Kellogg School’s most distinguished faculty shared their knowledge with future female leaders at the James L. Allen Center April 25 and 26 for the second annual Women’s Leadership Workshop. The event, which was presented by the Women's Business Association and Kellogg Admissions, extended last year’s theme of “Unlock your potential. Shape your future” for the 100 attendees.

The two-day leadership development seminar was designed for high-potential women, especially those early in their careers in industries or functions where an MBA may not be part of the traditional career path. This year’s attendees averaged three to six years of work experience in a variety of industries, such as media, technology, healthcare, manufacturing and the public sector, and they traveled from across the United States to attend. Approximately 25 percent of the participants came from the West Coast, 30 percent from the East Coast and 45 percent from the Chicago area.

In a welcoming address to workshop attendees, event co-chair Raquel Lachman ’08 said, “We hope to build on the success of last year and help you assess who you are as leaders through experiential learning opportunities.” With co-chair Dana Dimitri ’08 and 12 other Kellogg students, the team organized the two days for self-exploration, networking and personal and professional development.

“The Women’s Leadership Workshop represents many key elements of the Kellogg School culture, particularly our commitment to female leadership development and the role that business schools play in championing the advancement of women in the workplace,” Dean Dipak C. Jain said about the event.

Friday’s portion of the workshop featured classroom-like settings with Victoria Medvec, the Adeline Barry Davee Professor of Management and Organizations; Michael Mazzeo, associate professor of management and strategy; and Julie Hennessy, clinical professor of marketing.

Medvec led a dynamic presentation, “Negotiating for Yourself,” that challenged participants to consider how to negotiate more effectively. “I think the reason women are having such an issue with [work-life] balance is because they’re not asking” the questions that can result in more manageable professional circumstances, she said. Presenting 10 key strategies, among them the importance of preparation and flexibility, Medvec illustrated the benefits of strong negotiating skills from her personal and professional life, and she led participants through a relevant case study.

During Friday’s lunch, Kara Palamountain ’04, executive director of Global Health Initiative, spoke to attendees about her role at Kellogg and the impact that graduates such as Andrew Youn ’06, founder of the One Acre Fund, have made with their MBA degrees. The afternoon sessions examined “Career Strategy: Navigating the Labor Market in Tough Economic Times” with Professor Mazzeo and “Interviewing: When the Product You Sell is You” with Professor Hennessey.

Ruth Ann M. Gillis, president of Exelon Business Services Co., shared her ideas about the value of the MBA credential at a dinner reception, hosted at Vermillion Restaurant in downtown Chicago, where several Kellogg School faculty and administrators mingled with workshop attendees.

Day two of the workshop kicked off with a welcome from Beth Flye, director of Kellogg School admissions and financial aid, who told participants to treat the weekend as “an investment in you.” She encouraged the women to take time to reflect on what they learned at the workshop and to continue being a student going forward in life. “There’s not a better time in history for women to have an impact in the world. This is your time,” she said.

The workshop audience also heard from David Austen-Smith, the Peter G. Peterson Professor of Corporate Ethics, about “Values-Based Leadership” and explored the topic through a case study based on the issues Ford Motor Co. faced with its Pinto line in the 1970s. Building on that lecture, Michelle Buck, clinical associate professor of management and organizations, led the session “Leadership as a Relationship: Dynamics of Leading and Following,” which extended the metaphor of leadership to dance and jazz.

Saturday also included keynote speaker Betsy Holden ’82, senior adviser to McKinsey and Co. and former co-CEO of Kraft Foods. Her address, titled “Creating Career and Personal success: Building 3-D Leadership,” explored her career journey and what she found as central to her success. Among those key points Holden noted the importance of following one’s passions and setting a personal mission statement to arrive at goals.

Throughout the weekend, attendees interacted with current Kellogg students and alumni, including during Saturday’s luncheon. Corporate sponsors for this year’s event included Exelon, Eaton, GE Commercial Finance, Eli Lilly, Merrill Lynch, the Kellogg Center for Executive Women and Pink Magazine.