Capgemini NA Houston Lean in Circle leaders attended the 13th Annual Gulf Coast Women in Leadership Symposium (WILS) hosted by the National Diversity Council (NDC) in Houston, Texas.  This is the first of 37 WILS that NDC will host this year.  Capgemini is proud to be a sponsor for this leadership development platform.  Dozens of Capgemini colleagues in cities across the US, Toronto, London, and Paris will participate in this program this year.

Also in attendance for the Houston symposium, as a guest of Capgemini, was Wendy Lewis, Director of Internal for Noble Energy.

(Capgemini Colleagues and other WILS attendees.)

This year’s WILS theme is “Be Fearless: Influence, Innovate and Inspire.”  The theme aligns perfectly with this year’s International Women’s Day focus:  #BeBoldForChange.

The WILS’ panel was comprised of very successful women leaders from the Houston community, and was moderated by Eddie Turner, Executive Coach.  The panelists were:

  • Carol Jennings, Vice President of Education an Organizational Development, Memorial Hermann Health System
  • Karen Kauffman, Chief Human Resources Officer for METRO
  • Christine B. Lafollette, Partner for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
  • Jessica Mahaffey, Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Direct Energy
  • Michelle C. Seale, Principal, Advisory of Oil and Gas for Ernst & Young LLP

Personally, I am blessed to have attended several of the NDC‘s WILS through the years.  Each conference is different than the last.  I always walk away with new learnings, unique “a-ha” moments and reinforcement of different skills that I need for my career and life journeys.  Some of this year’s symposium topics, and highlights from the panelists speaking points are listed below.

Switching Your Career:  When Life Calls For a U-Turn

  • Millennials will remain loyal to their careers, but not their employers.
  • We making career decision, have no fear.  Don’t doubt yourself.
  • Don’t change your career path for the paycheck alone.
  • Don’t change your career path to meet someone else’s needs.
  • Be open to change.
  • Recognize which industries/jobs that will best utilize your skills.
  • While in your current role, learn all that you can.
  • Be flexible.  Try things you are uncomfortable with.
  • Be fearless!

Transforming the Rules of Engagement

  • Engagement is 20% culture.  80% climate, the sum total of the daily work environment.
  • Engagement is an art.
  • Build strong foundation for engagement.
  • Trust is key to engagement.  Trust is the confident expectation that the other person will incorporate my interests in their actions.
  • Be an engagement activator!  Expand your circle of influence and activate that network
  • Don’t wait until you need someone to approach them. Build relationships in advance.
  • Bring others along with me on the journey.

Leading With Authenticity:  Strategy for Success With Your Own Leadership Style.

  • Be adaptable.  There are a variety of skills you can adopt to make you – your best leader.
  • Surround yourself with those who appreciate your leadership style, even if for reasons you don’t understand.
  • Listen.  Never forget to listen.
  • Collaborate. Be inclusive.
  • Be naturally comfortable in your own skin.
  • Remembers:  Mentors talk with you.  Sponsors talk about you.
  • For the people you interact with, are you a mentor or a sponsor?  Which one are you for the people you interact with?  Define and declare the role you play.
  • Be honest with people, and admit that I may not be the mentor/sponsor role model that you need.
  • Show work/life flexibility so others can emulate.  No need to overshare the reasons for your need for balance.

Stop Networking and Start Making Connections

  • There 3 essentials character trait for relationships.  Integrity – Be honest.  Intention- Be strategic. Authenticity – Be yourself.
  • Don’t network for the sake of networking.  Be purposeful.  Handing out 1-2 cards to the right people can be more impactful than passing out business cards to several people with whom there are no real connections.
  • Seek quality over quantity.
  • Recognize that some relationships are meant to be short term.

Wendy Lewis had this to say about WILS, “Events like this are very important for women in all stages of their careers.  We should always be open and receptive to learning and improving.    I leave WILS feeling refreshed and refocused on honing my leadership skills…with renewed positive energy.”

Simone Briggs, Capgemini Senior Consultant and Houston Lean In Circle Leader states about her WILS experience, “I feel empowered by being surrounded by likeminded, ambitious, strong women.  Everyone whom I have meet at this symposium is focused on achieve leadership excellence, while influencing positive changes within their respective organizations.  Our life and career journeys may differ greatly, but we shared, listened and supported each other at this event.”