I just got back from the Women In Leadership conference given at the Haas School of Business at Berkeley. More often than not, I am disappointed in conferences and their agendas, which is why I do not go to very many. But the WIL conference was fantastic! The Keynotes were great and all 3 were given by women in very different times int heir lives and careers. The workshops and panels were well run and had interesting topics and very interesting presenters. There was not one time throughout the day where I felt that I was wasting my time.
Here are some highlights:
- Laura Alber, the President of Williams-Sonoma Inc spoke in the morning keynote. Her talk was fantastic and extremely inspirational. She has gotten where she is in her career because of her smarts, hard work, dedication and PASSION. She had an incredible story to tell about starting the Pottery Barn kids and PBTeen lines at Pottery Barn. She is the person behind those initiatives and took a huge chance to prove herself with these new lines of business. She didn’t say it but I am pretty sure her entrepreneurial drive to make Pottery Barn Kids successful is what lead her eventually to get the Presidential position at Williams-Sonoma Inc. She is a no-nonsense person who also feels real. And from the looks of her bios it also looks like she managed to get this far and still be under 40. Does it get more inspirational?
- A great hands-on workshop on entrepreneurship where a new start-up presented some real problems they were facing and everyone got involved helping them find real solutions. The presenter, Kirsten Tobey was very well prepared and controlled the audience and workshop very well, and the session was very interesting. Her company, Revolution Foods, is helping low-income school kids have better, healthier, less processed foods.
- Holly Schroth’s workshop on Managing Perception to Achieve Impact was fascinating. She has done some really interesting research about perception, first impressions and how it relates to business and business negotiations. The only problem with her workshop was that she only had an hour!
- Alice Waters. Enough said. When else do you get an opportunity to be up close and personal with someone as revolutionary in the food industry as Alice Waters? And if you do not know who she is – then read up. She has been behind the SLOW food movement since way before it was trendy. Check out her very cool Edible Schoolyard project.
I definitely recommend this conference to any women interested in advancing themselves. And the bonus of it all? Unlike conference which charge hundreds of dollars and sometimes thousands of dollars, this one costs a MERE $85.00. What a worthwhile spend of that money.