FIU Business Now Magazine
Power Up 2022: Flexibility, Agility and Individuality

(L to R) Keynote speaker Rita Ferro, president of advertising sales at Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, chats with Alex Finnie, Local 10 News anchor/reporter.

Power Up 2022: Flexibility, Agility and Individuality

The words resonated. Evolve, don't fail, learn, drive, resilience. Women entrepreneurs and other professionals shared stories of the roads and challenges that have led to their success.

The 2022 Power Up Women’s Leadership Conference, hosted by FIU Business and the university’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management in November 2022, focused on professional and personal development, learning and networking amidst a new business landscape.

Keynote speaker Rita Ferro, president of advertising sales at Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, recalled the early days of her career at ESPN Latin America, where there were “only one or two women in the room.”

Power Up 2022

"When you listen, you’re going to learn,” noted Lani Kane-Hanan, chief development and product officer, Marriott Vacations Worldwide.

Power Up 2022

A conference participant with Stephanie Honig (left), director of communication, national sales and export, Honig Vineyard & Winery.

Power Up 2022

Participants had the opportunity to have a professional photograph taken.

Today, the conversation at Disney is significantly different, she noted. New opportunities are being created, people of different color are at different levels, people who can contribute have a voice.

“It was because of the skill sets I had, not the experience, that for 25 years I [have gotten] to represent the most incredible brands in media,” Ferro said. “I had the energy, passion. I was going to do anything, and we weren’t going to fail.”

Companies’ increased focus on people has significantly changed the role of human resources leaders and teams, two executives noted within one panel.

Power Up 2022

Participant Vanessa Rey Perillo connects with an interactive art installation.

Power Up 2022

The conference included a wine seminar.

“HR is the perfect intersection between people and business,” said Yvonne Alfonso Santana (MS MGMT '03), vice president of human resources at Kingsway America and adjunct professor of global leadership and management at FIU Business. “In business, people first is critical, and appreciation of human beings can’t be absent.”

A priority at CSL Behring is developing next-step strategies: return to the office, continue working remotely and adopt hybrid schedules, while engaging leaders and employees. “HR is in the driver’s seat,” said Maria Fico, director of human resources and business partner. “We’re going to continue to focus on strategies to retain employees.”

On the work front, panelists – including executives from Silver Hospitality Group and Radisson Hotel Group – described changes in how people live, work and play; new consumer trends; and sought-after amenities.

“It’s not one-size-fits-all,” said Lani Kane-Hanan, executive vice president and chief development and product officer at Marriott Vacations Worldwide. “People are saying what they want to experience, and we’re giving it to them.”

Now in its seventh year, Power Up has sought to empower women at every stage of their careers through expert insight and community building.