Women to Talk Business at Friday’s Executive Leadership Event

Women are steadily increasing their ranks among business leaders overall.

Yet despite growing numbers, female entrepreneurs still face challenges in the corporate workplace.

They confront hurdles in striking the right work-life balance. They often need to look harder to obtain the right kind of mentoring. And the pandemic further complicated women’s pathways to business success.

What are the solutions? What best practices can we point to? And how does this all play out on Long Island?

This Friday morning, November 19, we’ll have an opportunity to get some answers.

A panel of high-achieving Long Island businesswomen will talk through issues like this at HIA-LI’s 11th Annual “Women Leading the Way” executive leadership event. It takes place at the LGBT Network at 125 Kennedy Drive, Suite 100 in Hauppauge. 

The panel, running from 8:00 am to 10:00 am, will be moderated by Domenique Camacho-Moran, a Partner with Farrell Fritz PC. Panelists include Lisa Mirabile, President and CEO of Vertigo Media Group; Karen Boorshtein, President and CEO of Family Service League; Lauren Nichols, President of 3G Warehouse, Inc.; and Natalie Wright, Suffolk County’s Commissioner of Economic Development and Planning.

Happily, the numbers for women executives are encouraging. Looking at census bureau data, the number of women-owned businesses nationwide increased 21 percent between 2014 and 2019, while all businesses increased nine percent. More than ten million women-owned firms generated $1.9 trillion in sales and employed 13 million people.

The idea that HIA-LI should host an annual forum to tackle woman-centered business issues was originally suggested by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in 2010.

“Women Leading the Way” also features a craft fair.

Attendees may take part in person or via Zoom. The registration fee is $50 for in-person attendance, and $25 for virtual participation.

Vendors wishing to exhibit at the craft fair should contact HIA-LI at 631-543-5355.

The event is sponsored by Farrell Fritz, PC; People’s Alliance Federal Credit Union; Campolo, Middleton McCormick, LLP; Brookhaven National Laboratory; the LGBT Network; Signwave; City National Bank; LITimes.org; Mark Grossman Public Relations; WSHU Public Radio; and IHOP. For sponsorship opportunities, contact Anthony Forgione at aforgione@hia-li.org.

Per CDC guidelines, those not fully vaccinated will be required to wear a face mask.

To register, go to https://www.hia-li.org/events/hia-lis-11th-annual-womens-leadership-program/ or call 631-543-5355. I look forward to seeing you then!

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.

Mentorship is Essential

From left: Domenique Camacho-Moran, Farrell Fritz P.C.; Terri Alessi-Miceli, C.E.O., HIA-LI; Karen Frank, Omnicon, an HBM Prenscia subsidiary; Theresa Ferraro, East/West Industries; Gwen O’Shea, Community Development Corporation of Long Island; and, Anne Shybunko-Moore, GSE Dynamics.

In 2010 I was invited to participate in a roundtable hosted by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on elevating women’s status in business with other esteemed women business leaders. She emphasized the importance of mentoring, equality and life/work balance and much more.

At the roundtable, I shared a personal story from many years prior about advice I had received from a male mentor.

His counsel?

Practice the profession of being a superior businessperson, whether I was male or female. Comprehend profit and loss statements and balance sheets, and learn how to develop revenue streams. His simple advice was lucid and relevant, and I never forgot it.

As I listened around the room all of us had mentors that were helping to lift us up and guide us along our journey.

At that roundtable Senator Gillibrand encouraged all of us to take an active role in helping generate more female business leaders and devise new platforms for ongoing discussion. Our ultimate goal would be to propel more women into executive suites.

HIA-LI accepted the challenge. We heeded the Senator’s call by instituting a panel series highlighting the challenges women face in the workplace.

It didn’t surprise me that at HIA-LI’s highly successful, Eighth Annual “Women Leading the Way” panel and networking breakfast held November 29, with many executive suite and young females in the room, the value of mentor support was a recurring theme.

HIA-LI is grateful to our moderator Domenique Camacho-Moran, a partner at Farrell Fritz P.C., as well as panelists Karen Frank of Omnicon, a HBM Prenscia subsidiary; Theresa Ferraro of East/West Industries; Gwen O’Shea of the Community Development Corporation of Long Island; and Anne Shybunko-Moore of GSE Dynamics.

Panelists agreed that life/work blending and support is essential for building women’s already impressive status in today’s business world: some ten million women-owned firms employ more than 13 million workers and generate more than $1.9 trillion in sales.

Panelist Karen Frank urged women to build their own strong networks. Through mentoring and network building, Karen said, “we can navigate this landscape better than in the past.”

This forum isn’t just a place to sip coffee and discuss women in business once a year: it’s a real-life mentoring event and a vibrant networking marketplace.

Moreover, it’s become a proud and valuable HIA-LI tradition. Thanks to all for making it a success!