More than 500 quality professionals joined ASQ for the first annual Women in Quality Symposium, December 9! Participants spent the day collaborating with expert panelists, connecting with quality professionals in networking salons and learning how to strengthen their quality roles through mentorship, career planning and overcoming obstacles to growth. Here are three meaningful takeaways from the Symposium that support an Ascent to Meaningful Leadership.
Leaders from ASQ and ASQE introduced the Symposium by sharing what it means for them to be a woman in quality.
1) Build (and actually use) a meaningful network
Networking can often seem like a snappy buzzword instead of a real tactic for career growth. But, if done correctly, it can be a truly beneficial tool. Finding and connecting with people who share your interests and values can create lasting relationships. In our first panel, “From Surviving to Thriving: Aligning Purpose, Passion, and Service,” Jd Marhevko, Jami Kovach, Aimee Siegler, and Allison Grealis discussed the value of mentorship between women. This goes beyond just sending a LinkedIn request, to actively sponsoring project opportunities, reviewing resumes and providing a sounding board. Women account for nearly half of the U.S. labor force and hold approximately 50% of all management and professional level jobs but hold significantly fewer leadership positions. Actively mentoring and sponsoring other women in quality helps usher in the next generation of quality leaders and create a support network across industries. In breakout networking salons and across panels, the impact of COVID-19 was covered, and how now, more than ever, having a supportive community is crucial for both your personal and professional development.
2) Intentional leadership encourages diversity
Throughout the Symposium, one thing was clear: Diversity makes the quality field better. Good leadership recognizes and encourages diversity. In the panel, “Identifying Innate Leadership Attributes in Women,” Jd Marhevko, Liz Keim, Mary Reich Cooper, and Alexis Skoufalos shared the experiences that shaped their leadership styles and discussed how they honed that style throughout their careers. These successful leaders also divulged how they use their leadership roles to help empower others and advocate for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in the quality field. When women are encouraged to cultivate an authentic sense of self, they can bring a more diverse and valuable perspective to their organization, field, and the quality profession.
3) Develop Your Personal Toolbox
Our third panel, “Addressing Obstacles in Career Growth,” encouraged participants to identify and address the challenges they face as women in the quality field. Panelists Kathryn Leonhardt, Cheryl Thompson, Peggy Milz, and moderator Luciana Paulise led the discussion by highlighting specific obstacles they’ve faced in their careers. From implicit gender bias, being interrupted, or battling assumptions, women often face challenges their male counterparts do not. Developing leadership and communication tactics can help you address and work through those obstacles.
Keynote speaker Allison Levine imparted thrilling details of her journey as the first American Women’s Everest Expedition Team Captain, where she led “Team No Boundaries” through a treacherous two-month journey to summit Mount Everest. With such high stakes, Levine relied upon leadership tools to guide her team. While most of us are not scaling mountains, we can use and adapt Levine’s tools like breaking goals down into manageable modules and understanding that “backing up is not the same as backing down.”
The 2020 Women in Quality Symposium provided quality professionals the opportunity to dive into the challenges, possibilities, and joys of being and working with women in the quality field. This special event was a success because of the energetic engagement, valuable insights shared, and the meaningful connections made! Over 320 participants met, shared ideas, and networked across our 20 breakout salons, and they can keep the conversation going on myASQ.org
ASQ has an array of events planned for 2021, including our next virtual conference: the 2021 Lean and Six Sigma Conference (LSSC)! Join us March 1-4 for our 20th anniversary of the event and discover New Opportunities for a New Decade. Registration opens soon, and you can review the program now!