Panel Discussion Recap

I honestly didn’t know what to expect of the panel. This was my first official event with Lean In since I volunteered for the role of Newsletter Editor. We had the opportunity to have it on the Amazon campus located in Sorrento Valley. But, you know what? What I thought of the panel discussion afterwards? It was amazing! It reminded me why I wanted to meet with others – to empower them and myself. My Leadership team worked hard to prep our panelists – coordinating food – checking in our attendees.

We had panelists, Kim Sontag Mulder, Pallavi Wakhede-Walwalker, Michaele Antoine and Toni Duran. There were many things that was discussed in the panel that resonated with me – if not the rest of the attendees. One of the topics mentioned was the mentality from when we grew up. How girls get that ingrained mentality to keep yourself small. Don’t say anything until spoken to. I was surprised to hear that others had similar experiences. I always thought it was just me. I saw it as my parents trying to protect me – or Darwin’s survival of the fittest.

Panelists had their thoughts on the topic:

  • “Just be yourself. I always did things I thought I was supposed to do, but that’s not you.”
  • “Be as authentic as you possibly can.”
  • “If you see someone that shows herself to be a leader, let them know they are making a difference. You can tell if they are by the way they interact with folks around them.”
  • “We all work together. We all share and lift each other up.”
  • “We are all standing on someone’s shoulders. There are times that we have to lend our shoulders to lift them up.”

Another topic that resonated for many was returning to work after having kids. As many of us are on the road to become mothers, there are those who already underwent that experience. And it isn’t easy. Some who become mothers, end up taking several years to take care of their child(ren). Then when trying to return to the workforce – companies who looked at her resume – didn’t look at her experience but looked instead at the gap. They treated her like a new grad, as if the experience she had prior to having kids had no relevance at all.

Pallavi talked about a memorable interview in which she interviewed a mother returning to the workforce. Due to all the pressure of returning to the workforce after not having work – but being a mother, she belittled her own self. Pallavi stopped her in the interview from doing that, and instead gave her the chance. And now, she is working wonderfully at Pallavi’s company. “Her skills spoke for her.” Stop discounting ourselves and our peers. Women who try to return to the workforce or who have returned, work harder to prove themselves.

“You aren’t working fast enough.” “You have missed many meetings because of your child.” If you have a young manager who can’t understand why you can’t make it to a meeting because you had to rush your child to the emergency room because of a high fever – that’s a problem. If your company doesn’t appreciate you – for you – how are you supposed to continue doing what you love? Language and mindset are very important. You need to find a company that appreciates you so you can continue doing what you love to do. We need to educate the younger generations so they are aware because they themselves might encounter themselves in that same situation when they grow older. Speak up about it. Companies seem to forget people have lives.

That also brought up the subject of the recent law that was passed. We shouldn’t really have to have a law that states organization boards have to have women on it. California is the 1st state to do that in 2018. Isn’t it crazy that its been about 100 years since the Women’s Suffrage movement in 1919, that this is the change we got up to now?

What were your thoughts if you attended? If I missed anything, please feel free to share your thoughts!

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