Written by: Minna Tang
Initially, I was not sure whether I should attend the IBC or not because I am just a freshman. How would I be able to relate to some of the most outstanding businesswomen in the world? When I read through the pamphlet, I was intimidated by those big names with their glorified titles. I doubted whether I was in the right place.
Jeanne Jackson, the president of product & merchandising at Nike Inc., was the first keynote speaker. She talked about how she believes that hardwork pays off and how women should never regret the choices they make. She emphasized how these beliefs led her down the path of success today. Everyone can work hard to achieve the (almost) “perfect” professionalism.
The second keynote speaker was the advisory partner at Bain & Company, Phyllis Yale. Her career path was very different from Ms. Jackson’s. Ms. Yale emphasizes that women, especially the ones in the professional world, need to acquire confidence and should not be guilty all the time. She mentioned that women often feel guilt more frequently than their male counterparts because we, as the stereotype says, tend to be more sensitive. As a result, we tend to blame ourselves for all of our imperfections. Therefore, we need to learn how to be confident with our ability. Jackson suggested, when we work harder, we will be able to build our confidence.
The president & CEO of Sam’s Club Rosalind Brewer, the third keynote speaker, stressed the crucial effect of self-awareness. She revealed the secret of her success is to say “No.” With her strong sense of self-awareness, she was able to truly know who she was. She confidently said “No” to big-buck job offers that were not her fit. She utilized her career story to demonstrate that the “No” does not mean self-doubting or sacrificing, but leads to a future “Yes.”
Although they come from three different industries of business world, they all agree that women today should be more comfortable and confident with their choices. It is okay to make mistakes; everyone does. Therefore, we should work hard to know who we are rather than to take things personally or always feel guilty.
Although it might sound cliché, IBC helped me to feel empowered. During the convention, I met so many students and professionals from the most prestigious schools and professional fields. I learned that I am not the only one who feels uncertain about my abilities. However, no one else should think this way. As women, we are not different from men in the professional world. If we do not believe in ourselves, who else will? There is no such magic pill to make us stronger as individuals. As these incredible women suggests, we should arm ourselves with diligence, knowledge, self-awareness, and, most importantly, confidence.
Ladies, you have the power!
P.S. It was a shame that Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and professor at HBS, did not make to the IBC. However, I still want to share her TED talk with you because her talk is extremely empowering and inspiring. It is not hard for anyone to power pose for only two minutes. Hope you will enjoy the talk.