Students and alumnae of Wake Forest University gathered Apr. 16 at the Wake Forest University Charlotte Center for “In the Wake of Success: A Woman’s Guide to the Top,” an event focused on building an effective network and achieving work-life balance. The evening included small group break-out sessions followed by a panel discussion, both featuring successful professional women serving as guides.
Vicky Mitchener (’83) was among the leaders of the small group
sessions. Mitchener, President of Dickens Mitchener & Associates, a Charlotte real estate agency, told the young women participating in her group to “build authentic relationships,” and to remember that what you do comes back to you in “such large ways.”
A session participant in her group noted that networking poses new challenges when a supervisor or co-workers are not present in the workplace in Charlotte, but instead may work thousands of miles away in another city.
Jennifer Blumer (’87) was another small group leader. Blumer, a
partner in KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm, said that being a parent and professional requires a daily balancing act. “It ebbs and flows just like everything,” said Blumer. She added that professional growth makes her a better parent because it builds her confidence.
In addition to Mitchener and Blumer, other group leaders were Patricia Zoder (’94, MBA. ’03); Holly Welch-Stubbing (’93), J.D.; Michelle Horton (MBA. ’02); Allison McWilliams (’95), Ph.D.; Connie Carlson (’87); Marjorie Benbow (JD/MBA ’99), M.S.P.H.; Martha Eubank (’86); Sandra Conway (’83), M.Ed., MBA.; and Patricia Koury Roddey, (’83), M.D.
“Everyone’s path is different,” said Horton, Founder and CEO of YOUniversity Drive, an organization that assists first generation college students, and Professor at Johnson C. Smith University.
Carlson, Director of the Exchange and Study Abroad Programs and A.P. Statistics Teacher at Charlotte Latin School, said she hoped to get across the message “to be true to yourself and follow your heart.”
There is no one right answer, she said.
After group sessions concluded, all groups converged in a classroom for a panel discussion moderated by Maria Henson (’82). Henson, who led a distinguished newspaper career, now is an Associate Vice President at Wake Forest and Editor-at-Large of Wake Forest Magazine.
She also writes The Deacon Blog and teaches journalism.
Shannan Townsend (’87), Melenie J. Lankau, Ph.D., Mary Tribble (’82) and Lisa Quisenberry (’81, MBA ’84) were panelists. One topic panelists addressed was the relationship between mentors and mentees.
Townsend, Managing Director and Deputy Division Manager of the Large Corporate Energy Division, Corporate Banking Group at Wells Fargo Bank, told audience members they shouldn’t view themselves exclusively as a mentor or a mentee. They may hold either role at various stages of life.
“Live in your current job really well,” said Lankau, Senior Associate Dean of Graduate Programs and Diversity & Inclusion and Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Wake Forest University Schools of Business. Mentors like to see evidence of competence in mentees before they begin mentoring them, she said.
Tribble, Chief of Event Planning, Charlotte in 2012 Convention Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention, said a mentor should select her mentee. A mentoring relationship, she said, “springs up because of mutual admiration and affection for each other.”
Quisenberry, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Hands on Charlotte, a leading volunteer service organization, told the audience she often receives phone calls from people requesting help launching nonprofits.
Her advice is to become engaged with another nonprofit organization before attempting to start one, she said.
Earlier in the evening, Quisenberry discussed how finding work-life balance means one side always weighs a little more than the other side. “It’s very much like a seesaw,” she said.
For some of the 80 or so women who turned out to hear the small group leaders and panelists, it was a first opportunity to see the new Wake Forest Charlotte Center. Others had been to the January grand opening or another event at the center.