For five years, the FIU Power Up Women's Leadership Summit has sought to empower women at every stage of their careers through expert insight and community building, making an impact on women's lives globally and locally.
This year's conference, held March 6, 2020, drew a crowd of over 300 to listen and learn, network and set goals. Originated by FIU Business and its Women's Alumni Network, Power Up celebrates International Women's Day, March 8, by creating a communal opportunity to focus on building a wide variety of skills: setting personal and professional goals, preventing burnout, building a network, and overcoming barriers to success in an uneven workplace. Many College of Business alumni attend as speakers, participants and seminar leaders.
Dean Joanne Li welcomed participants and shared a perspective on where women are heading as leaders. She noted a LeanIn study's finding that it will take three generations to reach gender parity in management jobs.
"We represent half of the population," she noted. "It should be an easier fix than it's been."
Mistress of Ceremonies and FIU Business alumna "Luly B." Carreras emphasized that, rather than just focusing on achievement, an integral part of empowerment is recognizing one's own limitations and honoring them.
"It's not always about doing more," she said. "Sometimes, it's about quitting more ... the power of quit, the power of saying enough is enough, the power of saying not right now ... of saying there's something more important in my life right now."
Laura Gomez, and actress, writer and director who portrayed Blanca Flores in the Netflix hit series "Orange is the New Black," ended the daylong program with honesty, humor and inspiration. Interviewed by FIU Business professor Seema Pissaris, she shared insights on surviving, thriving and overcoming obstacles as a Latina actress, far from a straight path or a predictable one, and meeting expectations, including her own.
"Have I made it? In terms of what my aspirations are? Not exactly," she said. "Am I on my way? Yes. Am I successful? In my book, a woman surviving in the patriarchy is successful every day, just by living. In terms of my career, yes, I think I am."
"Being a woman of color is supposed to be my weakness, ... but is exactly what I feel has given me the most work. I may not have gotten 100 roles, but I got the role that only I could do," Gomez said.
For the first time, the conference included two sessions on the basics of professional wine tasting, presented by FIU's Chaplin School of Hospitality to introduce attendees to the do's and don'ts of ordering from a restaurant wine list. Opportunities to network abounded, including morning coffees, a luncheon and an evening wine reception. Other panel discussions included "Speak Up Step Forward and Stand Out," offering Dale Carnegie Partner Christine Ramirez' best tips on how to start a conversation, and "Press Pause," featuring psychologist Whitney Goodman's insights into putting the brakes on burnout through managing the stress reaction.
True to its international nature, the conference helped support the women of Bandhwari, India, as part of the work of the college's International Business Honor Society, whose members visit India on a service project to benefit the women and children of the village, and work with women to produce hand-sewn accessories, including purses and wallets. Members of the organization were on hand to sell the items, with proceeds going directly to benefit the village and its women and children.