Multicultural Women’s Symposium: Lighten Up & Lead

By Lily H. Li

On Oct. 28, 2009, Asian Women Leadership Network welcomed about 125 participants to Inside Park at Saint Bartholomew’s Church in New York for our third annual Multicultural Women’s Symposium, Lighten Up & Lead. The keynote address of the same name was delivered by motivational speaker Pegine Echevvaria, chief executive of Team Pegine Inc., which along with AWLN presented the half-day, corporate-sponsored interactive event.
Lighten Up & Lead focused on inspiring women to be bold, to step up and to lead with gusto. Echevvaria exhorted her audience—high-potential executives and professionals from corporate America—to sing—without rehearsal and in unison—with such joy not once but several times “A Spoonful of Sugar” from the hit musical Mary Poppins. In addition, the symposium featured three concurrent breakout sessions that illuminated the nuances of leadership in a time of change and complexity: Power of Real: Challenging Yourself to Be Yourself; Selling the Invisible: Personal Branding for Success; and Divas for Diversity: A Cross-Cultural Dialogue.
During a planning session, AWLN President Meow Yee stated, “Our goal is to help Asian women fulfill their potential and to advance leaders. Our programs and workshops target the development needs of Asian women, but we soon realized that they addressed the needs of all multicultural women. Hence, three years ago we launched our annual Multicultural Women’s Symposium. We believe that advancing multicultural female leaders will strengthen the support network for advancing Asian female leaders.”
Lighten Up & Lead continues our commitment to high-impact programming and advancing leaders,” said Janice Won, executive vice president of AWLN and co-chair of AWLN Multicultural Women’s Symposium. “It builds on the success of our two previous symposia, Asianas and Latinas Navigating the Corporate Workplace in 2007 and The Power of a Woman’s Voice in 2008.”

AWLN’s host and corporate sponsors were Colgate-Palmolive Co., HSBC Bank USA NA, IBM Corp., L’Oréal USA Inc., New York Life Insurance Co., Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide Inc., Sodexo Inc., State Farm Insurance Cos., The Kimberly Hotel, and UPS Inc. “We hope you too are excited by an event that can help our members and friends learn, grow and network with one another for their success,” wrote Won and Lily Tang, co-chair of AWLN Multicultural Women’s Symposium, in a letter to sponsors.

From left, Bharvi Stalhamer, Network Supply Planner; Jennifer Peng, Finance Director; Alexandra Contreras, Senior Analyst, Global Workplace Initiatives; Barbara Yearwood, Senior Human Resource Administrator and Co-Chair, Colgate Women’s Network, all of Colgate-Palmolive Co.; Janice Won, Co-Chair, AWLN Multicultural Women’s Symposium; Justin Skala, President, Greater Asia Division, and Eugene Kelly, Worldwide Director, Global Workplace Initiatives, both of Colgate-Palmolive; Lily Tang, Co-Chair, AWLN Multicultural Women’s Symposium; Pegine Echevarria, CEO of Team Pegine Inc.; and Vrinda Deva, AWLN Planning Committee. Skala welcomed participants to AWLN’s half-day, interactive event on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009, at Inside Park at St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York . Echevarria delivered the keynote address, “Lighten Up & Lead,” the title of her speech and the theme of the symposium.

Giving a Boost to Women Around the World

By Lily H. Li

Highly gratified by the financial backing and other resources extended from our corporate supporters of Lighten Up & Lead, Asian Women Leadership Network engaged in a one-on-one chat with Eugene Kelly, Worldwide Director of Global Workplace Initiatives at Colgate-Palmolive Co., about the Oct. 28, 2009, event.
AWLN: Why did Colgate-Palmolive choose to be host sponsor of AWLN’s 2009 Multicultural Women’s Symposium?
Kelly: The 2009 AWLN Multicultural Women’s Symposium presented a unique, invaluable opportunity. We chose to be host sponsor to not only support the AWLN, but saw this level of involvement as a key way to further drive the professional development of Colgate women around the globe. We set out to provide external leadership in this space by being highly involved in the symposium and actively partnered with the AWLN to create a rich environment for professional networking and/or mentoring relationships to develop.
AWLN: How is Colgate-Palmolive leveraging the talent and contributions of its Asian-American employees?
Kelly: At Colgate-Palmolive, we recognize that our people are our greatest asset. The efforts of our talented and dedicated employees make our success possible. We continue to leverage the talent, experiences and contributions of all our employees – which ultimately fuels Colgate’s culture of innovation.
As a global company serving consumers around the world, Colgate-Palmolive succeeds among diverse cultures thanks to internal insight. Leveraging the ideas, talents and business perspectives of our Asian-American/Asian team members has proven critical to driving our successful and profitable business globally.
AWLN: Is Colgate-Palmolive tapping into its internal affinity groups to cultivate new consumers in Asia ’s dynamic, emerging markets? Would you describe these outreach efforts? Have you found these programs to be effective?
Kelly: Colgate-Palmolive truly is a global company – we currently sell our products in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. Our reach includes emerging markets and we continue to value and apply the insight from all our employees as a means to strengthen our visibility and performance in these areas.