We are just over halfway through the program, and in the short time since their arrival from their 16 home countries, the 2013 Emerging Leaders have been soaking in all of the innovation, entrepreneurialism, and networking opportunities that the San Francisco Bay Area has to offer.
Last Friday, several Emerging Leaders and their Mentors visited Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in Berkeley, CA for an exclusive tour of its facilities, including the Advanced Light Source, one of the world’s brightest sources of ultraviolet and soft x-ray beams. After the tour, the Emerging Leaders met and spoke with renowned computational scientist and previous TechWomen Mentor, Deb Aggarwal, who inspired participants with her presentation on how to be an exceptional leader. She stressed that leadership doesn’t only come in the form of your title; everyone can embody the qualities of a good leader.
Following the presentation, the TechWomen were invited to LBNL’s first Women @ The Lab event, which celebrated the achievements of 15 brilliant female scientists and engineers and their remarkable contributions to research and technological advancements in fields ranging from cancer research to climate modeling to mechanical engineering. Many of the Emerging Leaders felt inspired and galvanized by the opportunity to network with such amazing women scientists who are working to change the world for the better.
Meanwhile, across the Bay, other Emerging Leaders participated in TechWomen’s third annual Entrepreneurship Workshop, generously hosted by Microsoft at its Silicon Valley campus, and organized in collaboration with Anar Simpson and Jill Finlayson—TechWomen Mentors, advisory board members, and long-time supporters of the program. The event was largely focused on early-stage startups and initiatives, but also covered social entrepreneurship and hybrid business models.
Successful female entrepreneurs Rashmi Sinha, CEO and Co-founder of SlideShare, and Pamela Isom, CEO and Founder of ICE Safety Solutions, Inc., headlined the event with their inspirational keynotes, covering topics like maintaining work-life balance, dealing with hardships and criticism, failure, and being courageous. The Workshop also featured two panels consisting of venture capitalists and industry experts who provided invaluable insight about funding in Africa in the Middle East, as well as social entrepreneurship opportunities. A highlight of the event was when five Emerging Leaders were given the opportunity to pitch their business or idea to the panel of venture capitalists, who provided constructive feedback to the Emerging Leaders on their business plans and pitch presentation.
Some of the key takeaways from the Entrepreneurship Workshop:
- Be laser-focused. Be selective about how you spend your time, and who you bring on board, especially in the first year of your business.
- Know yourself. Know what you love. Know your competition, but don’t focus too much on it. Just be true to yourself, and keep doing what you love.
- Know your business and master your pitch. You’re not going to pitch just once or twice. You’re going to do it 999 times, even after you’ve received funding.
- Be brave. Be curious. Speak up. Raise your hand and ask questions.
- Don’t dwell on hardships or criticism. Move on and keep going. Look ahead.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When you ask for mentorship or advice, frame your request so that the person you’re asking knows exactly what you’re looking for, and how they can contribute.
- Take ownership of your own happiness. Don’t get bogged down by your desire for affirmation.
- Learn to lead. Be ready and willing to steer the ship, not just row it.
- Embrace failures. Fail early and fail often, but fail smartly. Learn from your failures.
Overall, the visit to LBNL and the Entrepreneurship Workshop at Microsoft both proved to be insightful and inspirational. Many of the Emerging Leaders left feeling excited to share what they learned with their peers back home. Others felt empowered to implement their ideas, and energized to become role models like the female scientists and entrepreneurs they had met that day.