I promised last week that you would hear more about my experience from Wednesday night moderating my first panel ever. I am delighted to share.
The panel was hosted by the Chicago Multi-Cultural Connections group. I was fortunate enough to have the moderating opportunity thanks to my friend and colleague who made the introduction.
The theme was “Women at the Top”, a look into the journey of business women in celebration of Women’s History Month. The great thing is there were men in the audience too, giving outstanding support.
Women’s History Month highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. Events like “Women at the Top” are impactful and important all year long but glad we could participate in it this month, especially in the same week as International Women’s Day.
My moderating goal of course was to guide the conversation, get to know our panelists and engage the audience. I was terrified to try something so new to me. I was not sure how it was going to go and if I would naturally fall into a rhythm. I pursued the challenge despite the fear and I am so glad that I did.
The three panelists were amazing.
Dawn Steele Halbert, a Regional Director for the Hispanic Media division at Meredith Corporation. She is an African-American woman who has spent her life in media making a difference.
Lucy Diaz is the VP of Corporate Sales at Univision Communications. Univision Communications is the leading broadcast media company serving Latin Americans. Lucy works with ad agencies and businesses all over the Midwest. Lucy shared refreshingly honest stories and tips about her experience and what she has learned over the years as a mom and businesswoman.
Yann Woolley is the Owner of Pistachios Contemporary Jewelry. Pistachios lies in the heart of downtown Chicago on the famous Magnificent Mile of Michigan Avenue. Pistachios has been a Chicago staple for over 21 years and they specialize in contemporary jewelry design created by talented and cutting edge artists in the world. As an immigrant to the United States, Yann had made tremendous success and really struck great cords with the audience about how far she has come but how her journey has had such impact.
Each of these ladies were truly inspiring. I opened the panel with a few starter questions about the career journey and what added challenges do they face being women and minorities.
We talked mentors, future goals, empowerment, competition, balance, men and leadership on and off the work clock throughout the panel. It was a dynamic conversation and I learned so much from it. The audience was engaged and a few people asked great questions to keep the conversation going.
Some of my favorite sound bites were:
1. Make your voice credible. You have to work twice as hard to make your point. (In regards to discrimination against women in the workplace)
2. Everybody is dealt a different deck but you can use your strength to forge through, deal with disappointment and adversity, to overcome, to try harder
3. Speak Up! This was shared by Lucy Diaz in regards to a question about what she would tell her younger self
4. Opportunity will come but you have to Be Ready
5. Promote Yourself and Network within your Company
After the event, I had so many attendees asking if I moderate for a living and when I told them it was my first time they were shocked. I was even offered a job by one of the panelists.
It felt good to take a leap outside my comfort zone and fly. I prepared for the opportunity and I was ready when it came. That’s not always an option though and I understand that. Even if it did not go well, I would have learned just as much about where I am and where I want to be. I have many more goals and seeing these women and hearing their stories, I found more drive in myself.
I look forward to taking more risks, diving right in and continuing to live in my purpose.