CAN WOMEN LEAD THE WAY?

Women's Panel 2019
Joining me in this photo are, from left: Joanna Austin, Publisher and Executive Vice President, Long Island Press/Schneps Media; Domenique Camacho-Moran, Partner, Farrel Fritz, PC; Rebecca O’Connell, Managing Director and Region Head, Chase Bank; Carolyn Mazzenga, Office Managing Partner, Marcum, LLP; and, Kristen Jarnagin, President and CEO, Discover Long Island.

In 2010, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand recommended that HIA-LI create a regular forum where female business leaders could mentor one another – and explore strategies for success.

In response, we inaugurated our annual “Women Leading the Way” Executive Breakfast. And on November 22 – with some 200 guests present – HIA-LI held our Ninth Annual Executive Breakfast at Hauppauge’s Stonebridge Country Club. Our panel was skillfully moderated by Domenique Camacho-Moran, partner at the Farrell Fritz law firm.

Women already own more than ten million companies nationwide employing more than 13 million people – generating more than $1.9 trillion in sales.

In 2018, 24 Fortune 500 firms had female CEOs. In 2019 that figure had reached 33. So while things are trending in the right direction, there’s still a long way to go.

What guidance did our blue-ribbon panel of female Long Island executives provide?

Rebecca O’Connell, managing director at JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking’s Long Island headquarters in Melville, described her bottom-up approach to leadership.

“I like to define success as building leaders, not gaining followers,” O’Connell said. “And driving forward in a team capacity.”

Long Island Press publisher Joanna Austin urged audience members to act as energizers and motivators.

“Aim to bring in energy and a positive vibe,” she said. “Try to infuse energy into every single task, no matter how mundane.”

Carolyn Mazzenga, office managing partner at the Marcum accounting firm in Melville, told attendees that advancement comes by taking action.  Not by simply “hoping” for recognition and promotions.

“We have a saying,” she said. “Hope is not a strategy.”

The CEO of our region’s tourism promotion agency, Kristen Jarnagin of Discover Long Island, also stressed action over words.

“People love to talk about things,” she told event guests. “So what are we going to do about it? That’s how you execute.”

As I offer HIA-LI’s huge “thank you” to Domenique and our terrific panelists, I’d like to close with some business advice that cuts across both genders.

As I’ve mentioned before, a businessman told me something early in my career. He said that race, age, and gender shouldn’t be a primary driver of hiring and promoting decisions.

He said to look for “strength of character and conviction – and how big your heart is.”

I’d like to wish you and yours best wishes for the holiday season and health and happiness in the new year.

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