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25 Career Insights From Enlightened Business Leaders

The 2018 MBA Women’s Leadership Conference held in Atlanta in June was chock-full of wisdom from energetic entrepreneurs and best-selling authors to gender equality experts and seasoned MBAs from across industries. Read on for some of the best insights “overheard” during the conference.  


Women must be 2.5 times more competent to be seen as equal to men.

– Joanne Lipman, Chief Content Officer, Gannett; Editor-in-Chief, USA Today; and author of That’s What She Said

Women are way more self-limiting than they should be.

– Lori Heinel, EVP and Deputy Global Chief Investment Officer, State Street

Diversity is when you’re asked to the dance. Inclusion is when you’re asked to dance.

– Deboleena Bose, VP, Human Resources North America, Whirlpool

I feel like women (are) really good at executing…but men do a good job in pushing out their ideas. They’re able to not just be doers, but also thinkers. And that’s really important.

– Caty Truei, VP-Restructuring and Finance, Barclays

Men are eight times more likely to negotiate for a raise than women and, when women do negotiate, they get 59% less.

– Joanne Lipman

As you get to business school, you will have so much opportunity for structured classroom dialogue, opportunity to grab beers with your classmates, and all that good stuff. Keep the conversation going – and definitely include men – because (it doesn’t move the needle) if you…just have it among yourselves.

– Jessica Wolfe, Principal, AT Kearney


A fulfilling career is about finding your passion…and finding a way to make your mark.

– Angel Wen, eCommerce Revenue Optimization, Delta Airlines

Find that thing that even the most senior people in your organization seek you out for.

– Lori Heinel

Leverage your “genius zone.” Figure out what…is your “it” factor…what is it that you are super good at…and leverage it in absolutely everything you do.

– Marguerite Davis, Founder & CEO, Tulle la la

Growth and comfort don’t co-exist.

– Mani Dasgupta, VP & Chief Marketing Officer, IBM Global Business Services

Don’t confuse success with happiness. Success is about the outside. Put that same energy into what makes you happy.

– Tiffany Willis, VP-Strategy and Operations, Fiserv

Ten years ago, I was expected to be in a business suit and wear panty hose …and the men had (their suit jackets) hanging up in their cubicles. Today, completely different environment. Our executives wear blue jeans…because innovation (happens)…when you’re comfortable.

– Jennifer Gamboa-Copeland, Diversity & Inclusion-Women, AT&T

Risk-taking is like exercising a muscle…once you do it, you get the confidence to do it again.

– Julie Sweet, CEO-North America, Accenture

Measure success on a much broader scale than your financial outcomes.

– Chris Hagler, Southeast Practice Leader-Climate Change and Sustainability, EY


When you interview for internships, remember that you are interviewing the companies, too.

– Christen Baskerville, Diversity & Inclusion Recruiter, Deloitte

Think of networking not as, “Who do I need to know to get ahead?” but also, “Who do I need to know to get really good at what I do?”

– Julie Sweet

You have to be your own best advocate – no one else is going to be able to communicate what you need.

– Aneel Delawalla, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy

Have the end in mind, and then hold yourself accountable as you’re making every step along the way towards that next goal. Ask yourself, “Is this aligned with whatever the ultimate goal is?”

– Chantel Adams, Brand Manager Global Innovation, Ocean Spray Cranberries

A lot of times you don’t really have rules, and it’s not always good to ask (for permission). Take initiative and just do things and then see the reaction later.

– Fatima Abdullah, Senior Managing Consultant-Digital Strategy, IBM Global Business Services


Meet the culture of your clients. Learn their language. If they wear jeans, don’t wear a suit. It shows you care about them.

– Lauren Herder, Senior Manager, EY

Focus on the skills that give you the highest ROI.

– Octavia Costea, Manager, Healthcare, Cognizant Consulting

Reading publications only about business really limits what you can talk to clients about.

– Aneel Delawalla 


Network with the different professors, and…keep those connections so that if and when you do start a company, you can go back and seek their advice. Because no matter how great you are at anything…I personally feel I’ve been successful because of the mentors I have.

– Bethany Bray, CEO & Co-founder, Autocruitment

Fear goes away when you’re passionate about something …when it’s your calling, you can do it better than anyone else, or you can’t stop thinking about it.

– Stephanie Espy, Founder & Executive Director, MathSP, LLC

My role has been all over the place, and I think it’s the same with every person here. (We’ve) all been involved with something that has made us extremely uncomfortable. But that’s what makes it so rewarding. I think it’s so cool when I go to my job and I have no idea what to expect.

– Jacki Thompson, Chief Relationship Officer and Head of Business Development at Relish Careers

For more news from Forté’s 2018 MBA Women’s Leadership Conference, learn about the innovative food product that won the Power Pitch competition or watch this powerful, short video as the 2018 Edie Hunt Inspiration Award winner explains her motivations for becoming a champion for women.

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