From November 12-13, over 320 attendees tuned in virtually from around the world to learn and be inspired at the 2020 Women|Future Conference. The third annual Women|Future Conference was originally planned as an in-person event in Las Vegas, but this year's pivot to virtual did not stop attendees from making engaging connections and having forward-thinking discussions. Attendees gained powerful insights to help them in their professional and personal lives through sessions ranging from entrepreneurship to financial planning, diversity in the workplace, health and wellness, overcoming the imposter syndrome, and social media marketing.
The 2020 Women|Future Conference was made up of 108 transformative speakers from multiple industries and fields of thought. Speakers ranged from female founders, CEOs, small business owners, and executives of Fortune 500 companies including AT&T Business, Amazon, Deloitte, Cisco, Microsoft, Roku, HCL and PayPal. The conference sessions and workshops encouraged women in all stages of life to not only embrace their tomorrow, but to walk away with lessons that motivate them to tackle career, personal, and life goals. Here’s what Women|Future Conference attendees took away from the conference:
There were three days of pre-conference sessions held November 9-11 leading up to the main event. Each pre-conference session was centered around a theme corresponding to that day of the week; Motivational Monday, GratiTuesday, and Women-Owned Business Wednesday.
"I have attended a lot of virtual conferences and this is the best conference out there. I took away a lot of good information and met fabulous ladies who delivered support, encouragement, talent and inspiration." - Shirin Alhroob, University of North Carolina
"Exciting, engaging, informative, and inspiring! What a show!" - April Traughber, Director of Learning & Development TTEC
"Taking part in the 2020 Women|Future Conference was an absolute honor. Hearing like-minded women share success stories, trials and insight on their stories was extremely inspiring. I can’t wait for 2021!" - Catina D’Achille Account Executivtrwqve, Park Place Payments
"I loved the mix of topics at the Conference. It was inspiring to be surrounded with knowledgeable women who have overcome trauma and other life events and rise to success. Everyone was very approachable and it was a great platform for networking. Would definitely recommend to other." - Georgia Homsany, Founder of Daily Dose Wellness
"What a truly inspirational event! I felt engaged and empowered. I highly recommend attending this event to anyone who is interested in learning to be their best self". - Mirela Marceta, Development Coordinator, YWCA Hamilton
The top attended pre-conference session was on Tuesday, November 10 titled, "Disrupt the Imposter Syndrome; Let the Real You Shine Through!" Panelists of this session discussed their own “imposter moments” and explored how our inner critic comes out as a result of comparison syndrome. They explained that when we compare ourselves to others, we tend to compare our worst to someone else’s best.
“We see others in a more larger-than state, and see ourselves as less-than by human nature,” explained panelist Dee C. Marshall, CEO of Diverse and Engaged. “How we can resolve this? One way is to know that we all have unique gifts and talents that no one else can do. Remember, if someone appears to be farther along than you, it is not that they are better than you, it is that we have different skillsets.”
“We also compare ourselves to our future and past selves,” added Jen Coken, Executive Coach, Speaker and Author. “I don’t think we can ever overcome it, I think we can create a new neuropathway the moment you are able to catch the old neuropathway. If you want to show up being joyful, there’s no formula for that- being joyful could mean I do some laughter yoga, skip down the street like a nut job and people think I’m crazy, or it could mean I smile at people. There are so many different things you can do, and once you identify a new practice to stay above the line, the stronger you get.”
Day One- Women|Future Conference
The conference kicked off on Thursday, November 12 with the opening keynote, "Today's Leadership, Tomorrow's Future" by Anne Chow, CEO of AT&T Business. Anne delivered an inspiring message about leading with compassion and mindfulness of our current environment, as well as unconscious bias in the workplace. She framed her discussion around the “7+C's” of great leadership, which she says are key for today and critical for our future.
When explaining two of the C’s, character and competence, Anne explained “One of the things I have found in my experience is that organizations and people within those organizations often make the mistake of assuming that if you have character, you have competence, or if you are competent, you have character, but this is absolutely not true. You need both character and competence as a foundation for trust.” She referenced the Stephen Covey book, The Speed of Trust, which explores this interaction as well as a personal anecdote to illustrate her point; even though her brother, an OB-GYN, has the "utmost character," he was not the appropriate person to see for her shoulder injury. When discussing the C of color, Anne stated,
“Great leaders surround themselves with people who are not like them, but are actually very different than themselves...the data shows that diverse teams generate better results.”
“We want to create cultures where everybody feels that they belong as their authentic self...diversity is asking somebody to the party, inclusion is asking them to dance, and for me, belonging is about bringing your own dance to the party and teaching others your dance while you learn theirs.”
Anne Chow closed her keynote with a live Q&A session from the audience. Other sessions on day one of the Women|Future Conference included:
- How to Be Resilient Through a Crisis
- Women Driving the Future of Tech- How AI, VR, and Robotics will be the Norm
- Health and Wellness 2020 & Beyond
- Stevie Awards for Women in Business Case Studies
- Passion to Profit
- Journalistic Approach to Diversity, Inclusion and Equity
- Balancing Motherhood + Business for “Mompreneurs” and Working Moms
- Finding Your Voice for Young Women
- The Power of Female Leadership
- Sustainability: Waste is a Design Flaw
- Women and Money: Investing 101
- How to Make Your Small Business Stand Out in the Crowd
Day Two- Women|Future Conference
The second day of sessions began with another popular session that addressed individual mindset about money and the many things that impact our ability to be financially successful. The panelists on “Financial Wellness: Your Relationship with Money” explored what it means to have true financial freedom and provided tips on how to track, choose, and invest where your money goes. The panelists shared resources about investing and saving, and explained how money can be an emotionally charged topic for women more so than for men. Additional day two Women|Future Conference sessions included:
- Create Joy in Your Career on Your Own Terms
- Business Chemistry: Using Science to Improve the Art of Relationships
- Getting Creative with Client Engagements
- Tips and Tricks: How to Get Funding for Your Business
- Building Your Dream Network for Introverts
- Conquer Crisis. Train Like a Triathalete. Body + Mind + Business
- Growth Through Social Media
- Bold Identity Branding to Build Your Business Post-Covid
- Creating Memorable Content
- E-Commerce and Online Business in Today’s Changing Climate
View the full 2020 Women|Future Conference Agenda
Pictured above, from right, are Judith Batty, Interim CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA and Kelly Parisi, Communications Officer of Girl Scouts of the USA. During their Women|Future Conference Session, "Building the Next Generation of Women Leaders Who Make a Positive Impact in the World," Judith shared some impressive statistics about the roughly 59 million Girl Scout alumnae and the impact they have had on the world.
“53% of female entrepreneurs and business owners in the US were Girl Scouts,” stated Batty. “Girl Scout alums are more likely than other women to have a business degree. The majority of women serving in Congress were also Girl Scouts. If you look at the sciences, the majority of female astronauts were Girl Scouts as well. We create leaders.”
One of our closing sessions of the day was the “Shark Tank”-Style Women-Owned Business Pitch Competition which featured ten finalists whose businesses were founded in November 2017 or later competing for a chance to win funding. A panel of judges and attendees watched 3-minute pitches from each finalist, then voted for their favorite. Our five judges included female founders and CEOs of successful, established women-owned businesses. The Pitch Competition finalists answered questions from the judges about their business model, target audience, and operations strategy.
The winner of the pitch competition was Clocr Inc., an innovative estate planning tool that helps create a power of attorney to legally pass on digital assets and online accounts. In second place was Sam and Lance ethical marketplace gift boxes, and in third place was Nutricraft Cookware.
Virtual Networking and Red Carpet
While pivoting to a virtual conference had its own challenges, we replicated as many in-person experiences our community loves including networking, hands-on workshops, and red carpet moments. The conference platform, Swapcard, and its Artificial Intelligence matchmaking capabilities allowed for attendees to interact outside of conference sessions. Swapcard recommends relevant attendees, sponsors, sessions, and workshops based on shared interests.
Another fun feature in the platform was the ability to take a red carpet photo from home. Click here to view the red carpet photos. If you attended this year’s virtual event and have additional behind the scenes photos you'd like to share with us, please email them to Nina@stevieawards.com and we will feature them on our social media pages.
2021 Conference Updates
We look forward to an even bigger and more exciting event next year at the fourth annual Women|Future Conference, which will be a hybrid virtual and in-person event held November 5-6, 2021 presented in conjunction with the 2021 Stevie Awards for Women in Business.
Sign up for our mailing list to get notified when early-bird tickets launch for the 2021 Women|Future Conference, the call for speakers opens, and other updates about this forward-thinking event for women!
Special Thanks to our 2020 Sponsors and Partners
We are proud to partner with the following publications and organizations that give a voice to women entrepreneurs and leaders. If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities for the 2021 Women|Future Conference, sign up here to get notified when they are released.
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Ruslana Milikhiker, Conference & Event Manager