What’s in a name?

Family dinners are a rare treat this month with both of my kids playing spring sports. I savor the chance to hear everyone’s highlights from the day and enjoy how our conversations can range from cat stories to current events. I recently asked my ten-year-old daughter over dinner if she wanted to attend the Women of Excellence event with me this year. This led to Q&A about the event and I showed her the latest issue of Women@Work magazine, which features this year’s Women of Excellence recipients.

Kate agreed to join me and I am excited that she will be able to hear the inspirational stories of these incredible women firsthand. Growing up, I didn’t know many women in business and only had one memorable female role model: my aunt Gerry Regan, who was an executive at Quaker Oats Company in Chicago. I am grateful to now have so many role models in my life and to be able to expose Kate at a young age to the many different types of career paths that are available to her.

During this same dinner conversation, my teenage son went on to say that the Women’s Business Council seemed sexist to him. We talked about the wage gap and other challenges that women in business have faced over the years. I reflected upon the WBC’s recent “C-Secrets from the C-Level” program, in which we discussed how it’s estimated to take another 100 years to close the wage gap at the current rate and what we can do to accelerate progress.

Then I thought about the importance of naming and how my son had a point – maybe a name like WBC makes some men feel like they’re not welcome. I told my son that it’s important for men and women to partner in business just like any other profession and asked him if he had any ideas of names that seemed more inclusive to him. Jackson thought about this for a few minutes and then suggested that the WBC be renamed to “Equal Jobs Council.”  I realize that the WBC is about so much more than jobs but appreciate the sentiment and told him that we’d consider it.

I look forward to seeing everyone at the Women of Excellence luncheon. If you haven’t already, subscribe to the WBC Voice blog so you that you can read more about our WOE recipients before the big event.

What’s energizing you this Spring?

Screen-Shot-2015-12-10-at-6.00.03-PMHappy Spring!  Even though this past winter was relatively mild, spring couldn’t come soon enough for me.  Blooming shrubs, chirping birds and extra daylight to run after work are just a few of the things that energize me this time of year.  Every spring, I get excited to take on new projects and eagerly start my “to do” list.  It doesn’t take long for my post-it notes to resemble the cover of Brigid Schulte’s Overwhelmed book, which is ironic because one of my “action items” is to finish the last few chapters of this great book (preferably before May 10th when the WBC will be discussing it during a brown bag lunch.

For those who missed Brigid Schulte at the WBC Bold in Business Forum, I encourage you to check out the resources on her website: http://www.brigidschulte.com.  I particularly enjoyed her New America Weekly article in which she writes,

“It’s time to Get Real. Time to break these so-called ‘work-life’ issues out of the Mommy Zone and into the Mainstream where they’ve always belonged.”

It’s encouraging to see progress towards “mainstreaming” these issues in the Capital Region.  In March, the WBC partnered with the Times Union’s Women@Work to sponsor a panel discussion about “The Blind Spot” research conducted by Siena College Research Institute.  I was glad to see both men and women in attendance at the event and that Ed Mitzen, president of Fingerpaint, joined Ruth Mahoney, market president at KeyBank, on the panel.

I look forward to continuing the conversation and hope to see you at future WBC events.  For more information, subscribe to this WBC Voice blog and visit the WBC page on the Chamber’s website.

What are you going to say no to this year?

Screen-Shot-2015-12-10-at-6.00.03-PMAs a California transplant, I struggle with Upstate New York winters.

When I moved here, I decided to embrace winter by learning to ski, ice fish and snow shoe. While it will probably never be my favorite season, I have come to appreciate the beauty of winter and the thrill of trying new things – even when 5-year-olds cruise by me on the ski slopes. As we make our New Year’s resolutions and gear up to try new things, I encourage you to check out all that the Women’s Business Council (WBC) has to offer.

The WBC is a dynamic council comprising more than 1,000 members that support women in business by planning thought-provoking programs, fostering networking opportunities and supporting a local nonprofit organization. This year’s Adopted Nonprofit is Capital Roots (http://www.capitalroots.org/), whose mission is to nourish healthy communities by providing access to fresh food and green spaces for all. (Read their introductory note here.)

I am honored and excited to serve as the 2016 Chair of the WBC and to continue the great momentum created by Susan Radzyminski and the 2015 Steering Committee. With the affiliation of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber and the Chamber of Schenectady County, the newly formed Capital Region Chamber, provides an opportunity to expand the WBC’s reach throughout the region and to provide even more resources to women in the workplace.

Our 2016 program committee, chaired by Jackie Sheffer and Amanda Goyer, is already hard at work planning programs to educate and inspire us. We are kicking off the year with Albany Med Cardiologist, Dr. Suzie Mookherjee, who will challenge us to be more authentic so that we can balance priorities, deepen partnerships and embrace good stress. As a recovering people-pleaser and perfectionist, I can’t wait to hear what Dr. Mookherjee has to say. I have already started to think about what I need to say no to this year so that I can free up time to pursue what’s most important to me. I hope that you will join us next Tuesday and keep in touch right here on our WBC Voice blog.

Happy New Year!

Fall is here! Let’s harness that fresh energy.

I love this time of year. Warm days of summer are still here yet there is a hint of fall sneaking in at night with crisp cool air. It brings anticipation of the changing seasons and, for some of us, our life schedules. As I write this post, my youngest son is scurrying around the house packing to go back to college. Shoppers are out in force buying school supplies for a new school year. This time of year triggers a sense of change and newness. I find this holds true for our professional lives and schedules, too. While summer is hectic and there is no shortage of work, there is an unwritten rule that things are a little more casual and laid back. Life slows down for vacations and the things we north-easterners enjoy about this part of the country during this short season. As we head into the last official weekend of summer, I always get a sense of excitement and spark of energy to tackle the projects I have put off and to set some new goals to achieve by year end.

I really try to leverage this energy and renewed sense of drive. If you find yourself feeling the same way, here are some tips not to squander this opportunity.

1 Think of this time like we do New Year’s and set aside time before the Labor Day weekend to write new goals or “to-do list.” Have the list complete before the long weekend. This way, you can enjoy the weekend and start fresh with your list the day you get back to the office.

2 Share with a co-worker, your boss, or someone who will help you be accountable for these goals and action items. I find if I share with others, I am more likely to take it seriously and not place on the back burner.

3 Don’t overdo it. Make the list realistic, specific and measurable. If you overwhelm yourself, you may lose that renewed sense of energy that got you started in the first place.

4 Include at least one personal item not related to work. I find this helps me keep work/life balance top of mind.

5 Include at least one professional development goal. Tie this back to your performance review and share with your boss. This may help get the support (time and funding) to make it happen.

Looking for some tips as to what to place on your list? Here are a few suggestions:

Join a networking organization to build relationships with professional women to grow referrals for business. The WBC has over 1,000 members and offers professional development programs throughout the year. Here is a link to the list of upcoming events. If you are already a member, invite a friend to join you at the next event.

Learn a new skill or deepen an existing one. “Finding Your Voice and Getting to Yes” is a WBC program in November presented by author and lawyer Frances Green. Register here.

Start that education or retirement fund you have been putting off. Contact CAPCOM. They are one of the leading financial service firms for women in the Capital Region and are sponsors of the WBC because they are committed to the empowerment and success of women.

You get the idea. Happy planning. Enjoy the last days of summer, beginning of fall, and a renewed sense of drive to accomplish your goals.

What is the value of belonging to the WBC?

A colleague of mine, who is an architect and has purposefully avoided joining or attending gender-specific networking and professional development groups like the Women’s Business Council (WBC), recently asked me what value I see in these groups. I take it for granted that it’s obvious, I now know that it’s not apparent to everyone.

It really comes down to one answer for me: Friendships.

Why friendships? Because people like to do business with people they like and trust. People refer others to people they like and trust. People share information and their networks with people they like and trust. People help people they like and trust. In the business world and life, all of this matters.

The WBC offers women opportunities to meet other business and community leaders, work and learn together, celebrate women who are doing amazing things (Women of Excellence), mentor one another and give back to our community through our Adopted Nonprofit. All of these activities foster connections and friendships, leading to meeting new people with different skills, new knowledge and maybe even new business. We are an organization that supports women in the workforce at any stage of their career to grow and develop to reach their full potential. I think women’s leadership and networking groups are extremely beneficial and recommend that every woman participate in at least one.

To employers, the WBC offers a forum for continuing education, professional development and networking in the communities in which your businesses are located. Our programs are reasonably priced and an excellent value. If your business is a member of the Capital Region Chamber, all your employees are also considered members and are eligible to attend certain events for free or at the member rate. Since the affiliation of the Albany and Schenectady Chambers to become the Capital Region Chamber, all businesses who were previously Schenectady Chamber members can now take advantage of the WBC. I encourage you to contact me, Brandi Miller or any of the WBC steering committee members to learn more and encourage your employees to become involved.

Professional development is another benefit provided by these groups. In fact, the WBC has several powerful programs this fall. Our September program features our seven Women of Excellence in an armchair conversation sharing stories of their careers and life experiences. In October, we hold our annual Bold in Business forum featuring bestselling author Brigid Shulte discussing her book Overwhelmed. At the request of our members, our November program features attorney and author Frances Green to discuss the art of negotiation and getting to yes! Register for these programs now as they are sure to be sell-outs!

Enjoy summer and see you at our fall programs.

What statistics say about women?

There are some surprising statistics about women floating around the internet these days. Take the ones Sheryl Sandberg uncovered during research for her book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.”  sheryl

Among the stats include:

– 21 of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women.
–  Congress is 18% female.
– Women are paid $0.77 for every dollar men make.

And, here are a few I found more disturbing:

– Girls perform worse on tests when they have to check off M or F before taking it.
– Men attribute their success to innate qualities and skills. Women attribute their success to luck and help from others.
– When men fail, they say it’s because they weren’t interested. Women blame their lack of ability.

Interested in more mind blowing stats presented by Sheryl Sandberg?

rosieIt appears that women aspire to be less and are less confident. And yet I have met some of the most amazing, confident women at the WBC. Take for example the women I spoke with at the Membertini in June held at Lord & Taylor. There were women leading their own companies and who represented diverse professions including architecture, engineering, financial planning, language translation, cultural education, fashion, hospitality, accounting, law, and medicine. It’s not that I doubt the statistics are accurate, my point is to emphasize what we can do to change them. I also met people from Girl’s Inc. and the YWCA at the Membertini. These organizations are helping to inspire and build confidence in young women which is clearly important to change these statistics. I find the WBC to be full of supportive and uplifting women. I am very proud that we are an organization of women who can continue to change these statistics one woman, one girl at a time. The statistics do not define us. Our actions do.

See you at our next event “WOE Unplugged” to hear the back story of confident, aspiring women. Register here for the September 15 event.

Lessons from the Women of Excellence

As I sat listening to the award recipients at this year’s Women of Excellence, the gentleman sitting next to me, Senator Neil Breslin, and I commented after each acceptance speech, “Wow. That was good.” Each amazing woman shared a piece of themselves, insight to the challenges they have faced, goals they have accomplished and their source of strength and inspiration to succeed. It was impossible not to be caught by the confidence in which they delivered their message. Whether it was about persevering as a woman in a role or industry not common for women or overcoming racial bias during the Jim Crow era and beyond or finding balance in career and family, these women spoke from the place of experience and conviction. I was left not only inspired by their stories, but challenged by their words to follow my own inner passion to succeed at whatever path that calls me for family, career or community. As Trudy Hall suggested about being recognized as a Woman of Excellence, the expectation is that we keep raising the bar, aiming higher, helping others, living fuller.

Susan escaped the camera at the WOE event but here are some of her WBC pals (L-R) Sujata Chaudhry, Brandi Miller, Paula Heller, Jennifer Regan, and Anissa Hochberg.
Susan escaped the camera at the WOE event but here are some of her WBC pals (L-R) Sujata Chaudhry, Brandi Miller, Paula Heller, Jennifer Regan, and Anissa Hochberg. Photo credit Times Union.

Thank you to all of the family, friends, businesses, community and political leaders who attended the luncheon to celebrate and honor the Women of Excellence. We are grateful for your generosity in donating to our adopted nonprofit, the St. Paul’s Center. And thanks to our sponsors CAP COM Federal Credit Union, GE and MVP Health Care, Times Union Women@Work and Open Stage Media at Proctors for video production.

On June 10, the WBC holds our annual Membertini where we welcome members and nonmembers to meet over lite fare and specialty cocktails in a fun atmosphere. Lord & Taylor, our sponsor, is hosting us in their new location at Crossgates Mall. Come learn about the WBC, meet our steering committee, and pick up fashion tips and coupons for shopping. Register here. The $5 registration fee goes to our adopted nonprofit, the St. Paul’s Center. Hope to see you there!

Susan Radzyminski, chair

Hello from the Chair

Susan Photo
Susan Radzyminski, 2015 Chair of the WBC

I love the WBC!

I have been involved in the WBC for more than 20 years. In fact I remember attending my first Women of Excellence luncheon in 1992. I know, I am dating myself! The point is, the WBC is still relevant to me. It has evolved over the years with programming that addresses the trends in the workplace that women are dealing with on a daily basis. From work life balance, to utilizing social media for business, to managing conflict, the WBC is in touch with its members to offer topics designed to enhance careers, business and personal development. Did you know that if your company is a member of the Chamber, you are eligible to be a member of the WBC and attend our programs at the member rate? This is such a great value to Chamber members and their employees.

WBC Vice Chair Jen Reagan and her daughter help prepare breakfast at St. Paul's Center.
WBC Vice Chair Jennifer Regan and her daughter Kate help prepare breakfast at St. Paul’s Center, while Susan tends to the skillet in the background.

The other aspect I love about the WBC is the Adopted Non Profit program. Each year, the WBC partners with a nonprofit to raise awareness of their mission and funds for their services. This year, our partner is the St. Paul’s Center, a shelter for women and children in Rensselaer County. It is scary to learn how close to homelessness many of us our in this country. A few of us had the pleasure to meet some of the residents one Saturday morning as we cooked breakfast for them. The center is cheery and very comfortable, just like home in many ways. The great thing about St. Paul’s Center is that they focus on helping these families get back on their feet in their own homes with jobs to sustain their independence.

Please join us to learn more about the WBC and I hope you will attend the Women of Excellence Luncheon. You will be inspired by these amazing women. Every year that I have attended, I think to myself, how can they possibly select women for next year to compare to this? And every year, Women of Excellence delivers!  See you at the Marriott on May 28!

– Susan Radzyminski