Women's leadership conference draws its largest crowd to dateHouston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce • Jul 05, 2017
Leaders in the fields of banking, health care, engineering, media, education and more offered up advice on how women can succeed in their careers, seek financing for their own businesses, and generally how to self-brand themselves and their work.
"Times have changed. There's more potential for women looking to get ahead," said Hilda Almazan, a full-time volunteer at the YES Prep Gulfton charter school.
Almazan, 43, came to this year's gathering at the Royal Sonesta Hotel near the Galleria to take notes she could share with the working mothers she knows who were unable to attend.
Laura Murillo, president and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber, said she came up with the idea for the conference three years ago after traveling the world as a representative of Houston on trade missions. On these travels, she said, she would often be one of only a handful of women invited.
"The bottom line is that there is room for women at the table," Murillo said.
According to the chamber, women-owned businesses in the Houston area account for more than 30 percent of all local businesses and generate over $40 billion in annual revenue year over year.
Friday's conference drew in many of these local leading women, including panelists Gay Nord, president of Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center; Sandy Asch, author and principal at Alliance for Organizational Excellence; Gina Luna, former chairman of JPMorgan Chase's Houston operations; and Kelly Showalter, research manager at Shell International Exploration and Production.
Panel topics included using LinkedIn in for networking, the pros and cons of seeking out executive coaching, the multiple services available at credit unions, the importance of work-life balance, especially for new moms seeking to ascend within their professions, and the general need for resilience in the face of adversity.
"Avoid getting trapped in the nonsense of every day," Asch said. "Keep your focus and ask yourself, 'Who am I committed to being today?' "
For Beatrice Esparza, 63, who works in shipping and receiving at Electronic Assembly Services, the event felt motivating. While her boss had been at the last two conferences, this was Esparza's first time.
"I see why she wants to come to this," she said.
A big takeaway for her personally was panelists' talk on the importance of engaging in social media as the business world, and society overall, are becoming increasingly reliant on technology.
Hilda Almazan's 14-year-old daughter, Mariel, one of the youngest attendees, said she was impressed and inspired by the number of professional working women around her.
Though at first Mariel, who wants to work as an engineer in the fields of animation, film and design, felt slightly intimidated at the idea of attending a business-focused event, she pulled out her safety net: a deck of playing cards.
"I don't have a business card," she said, "but I can impress people with my magic tricks."
She proceeded to perform a few sleights of hand on an empty table, drawing a crowd of curious onlookers who introduced themselves, and their businesses.
As published by the Houston Chronicle http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/Hispanic-Chamber-s-women-leadership-conference-11259618.php