The fifth annual Women|Future Conference brought together hundreds of ambitious, forward-thinking women across industries and career stages to connect and discuss key issues that impact their industries, careers, and lives.
The agenda featured more than 25 discussion panels and breakout sessions hosted by 80+ women CEOs, founders, small business owners, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, coaches, and executives from organizations such as Accenture, Goldman Sachs, Hilton, IBM, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Nestle, T-Mobile, and others.
Attendees gained powerful insights to help them in their professional and personal lives through sessions ranging from entrepreneurship to workplace diversity, mental health, overcoming imposter syndrome, how to think like an investor, social media best practices, and more.
The #WomenFuture22 agenda was divided into seven tracks: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Entrepreneurship, Future of Work, Leadership, Marketing, Personal Development, and Technology.
The Opening Keynote
Rashmi Verma, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at HUGO BOSS, was the 2022 Opening Keynote Speaker. HUGO BOSS is one of the leading companies in the premium segment of the global apparel market, employing 13,800 individuals representing 112 nationalities. As the Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Rashmi develops creative methods to increase team engagement while establishing an inclusive culture across the company globally.
Keeping with our tradition of past Stevie® Award winners keynoting the conference, HUGOBOSS is a multiple-time Stevie winner in the Stevie® Awards for Great Employers for COVID Response and HR Achievement in 2019 and 2020.
In her Women|Future Conference Keynote, "Dream Big & Chase It," Rashmi shared how she navigated these work and life challenges, including managing cultural differences and experiences, and ways to carve out possibilities and dreams along the way.
Rashmi’s life and career have spanned continents. She grew up in India in a conventional family yet managed to excel in the tech industry. She started her career working for General Electric (GE) where she led and drove multiple high-profile strategy projects within various GE businesses. She also launched her own business recently called YogaDaan, a charitable organization that offers yoga classes to raise money for a school for the underprivileged and differently abled children in India.
Rashmi walked attendees through this journey, explaining how she navigated through each challenge that brought her to where she is today.
Top Attended Sessions From the Week
Throughout the three-day conference, Women|Future Conference attendees heard sessions about business networking, work-life balance, wealth attraction, overcoming adversity, mentorship, and more.
Below were the top conference sessions at #WomenFuture22:
- Building Your Community of Mentors
- Find Your Voice: Insider Secrets from Seasoned Speakers
- Dream Big & Chase It!
- Think Like An Investor: How to Get the Funding You Deserve
- Resilient Leadership in a Changing Business Landscape
- The Ever-Changing World of Social Media
On Tuesday, November 8, in the opening session “Building Your Community of Mentors,” speakers shared their stories and wisdom on how to find a mentor, types of mentors, creating a community of mentorship, and getting the most from a mentor relationship—whether as the mentor or mentee.
Brenda Jimenez, Chief Executive Officer of MENTOR (New York, NY), noted that “one in three individuals in this country grow up without a mentor.” She said we need to step up for those younger women, but the onus is also on young professionals to seek out mentors and maintain the relationship.
Brenda acknowledged that there is a cultural aspect around asking for help, and some may feel like they are seeking a mentor out of weakness, to which she asserted: “When you're asking for a mentor, you're asking for an additional superpower to the superpowers you already have.” This superpower, though, is contingent on the mentee’s attitude and openness. The mentor relationship must be built on trust and integrity on both sides if women hope to have their mentor go the extra mile for them:
“For someone to activate their social capital, they have to value not only who you are but trust that you're going to be a good steward of that relationship that they're activating on your behalf, so you have to be authentic–you have to be very clear on what you're moving toward and you have to show up with dignity, integrity, and authenticity.”
Director of Brand Personality at Hilton, Whitney Knight, MBA, shared another type of mentor relationship she initiated with her close friend and fellow business woman. “I have a mentor who serves as my accountability partner. We were friends for over a decade before we said we'd like to have more conversations about our careers. We started having dedicated time together each month to focus on what are you doing this month, what are the challenges you’re having and maybe I can help.”
Brenda reiterated: “The magic sauce is the relationship, and that's always complex because relationships themselves take time and evolution.” No matter the type of mentor relationship, she encouraged attendees to reflect on their needs and bring their authentic selves to networking and mentorship relationships.
In another popular panel session on Wednesday, speakers discussed “Strategic Storytelling: Advertising and PR Tactics for Your Business.” The conversation centered around storytelling as it relates to a company value proposition as well as individuals’ personal story and brand.
Research shows that, when people are in storytelling mode, their brains are in a different space where they are more likely to receive and remember information. “When you have your own story and when you own that, people pay attention….There is a way to create commonality in a room of diverse people and beliefs through that storytelling,” noted Star Bobatoon, Business Storytelling Coach and Founder of Own Your Stage Training.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Why Group Inc., and Ciara Ungar Coaching & Consulting, Ciara Ungar shared that businesses and individuals often need to take a step back and really reflect on their core purpose. “People can feel how authentic you’re being. You’re always performing….If you’re not understanding that first ‘why,’ then it will be hard to deliver that authenticity and form a true connection.”
Star explained that we need to adjust our thought habits to draw from our authentic self:
“Because we are so often making ourselves small and taking the back seat, we are not comfortable sharing the wonderful things about us, and that starts to become normalized within us….The way we live our lives is a result of the stories we believe about ourselves…there is the story that we are repeating inside our minds all the time and that story is directing our work,” she said.
Women-Owned Business Pitch Competition
The third annual Women-Owned Business Pitch Competition at the Women|Future Conference provided a platform for five women-owned businesses to compete for a chance to win funding. Pitch Competition finalists included Equability, Good Mood Treats, The Village App, Tiny Fish Co., and XpertPatient, LLC.
During this live, “Shark Tank”-style competition on November 9, a panel of judges and attendees watched each finalist present a three-minute pitch and then answer questions from the judges about their business model, target market, and operations strategy
Judges ultimately determined that Equability was the winner, an online clothing modification service for individuals with disabilities. It was launched in 2020 after their research had identified lack of adaptive clothing as a barrier to social and professional participation. Equability gives people the ability to conveniently modify clothes to suit their style and lifestyle.
Founder and CEO, Hilary Pham, won a $5,500 cash prize funded by the Stevie Awards and Autumn Consulting, LLC, as well as a certification from Certify My Company (a $4,800 value).
Access the 2022 Conference Sessions On-Demand
Did you miss this year’s conference? You can register to watch the replays of over 25 panels, workshops, including our opening keynote for just $39.
On-demand attendees will have access to the 2022 virtual Women|Future Conference platform through November 2023. The platform includes three days of sessions and lists of speakers, attendees, and sponsors that participated in #WomenFuture22.
Special Thanks to Our 2022 Sponsors and Partners
We are proud to partner with the following publications, media outlets, and organizations that share our mission in supporting women in business.
If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities for the 2023 Women|Future Conference, sign up here to get notified of the 2023 prospectus release.