The past week was a whirlwind of arrivals, orientations, and exploration for this year’s TechWomen Emerging Leaders, who arrived in the Bay Area on October 1.
Some flew for more than 30 hours and some had more than three layovers, but all arrived safely in a flurry of excitement and anticipation for the weeks to come.
Week One kicked off with orientations in the Emerging Leaders’ local residences. Cultural Mentors joined and led small groups of Emerging Leaders around their neighborhoods, showing them the nearest grocery stores, banks, and, public transportation stations.
The Emerging Leaders all came together for the first time on October 3 to participate in an official logistics orientation hosted by Oracle Corporation. Barbara Williams, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Oracle Corporation and a 2013 TechWomen Cultural Mentor, shared an inspiring list of advice to live by, setting the Emerging Leaders up for success in their professional mentorships and careers.
After the orientation, Emerging Leaders also participated in a workshop facilitated by the Oracle Women’s Leadership team and heard a keynote speech from Nandini Ramani, Vice President of Java at Oracle Corporation, who encouraged the Emerging Leaders to not be afraid of voicing their ideas and opinions at work. She remarked, “Someone once told me, ‘you must speak up!’ and after that, I never shut up.” Nandini emphasized the value of stepping outside of your comfort zone in order to grow professionally, and Emerging Leaders learned that the inclusion of women in the tech field is not a feminist issue in Nandini’s eyes; it just makes good business sense.
During Barbara Fittipaldi’s Innovation Leadership Workshop hosted by Orrick, the first official workshop of the program, Emerging Leaders discussed their professional dreams and aspirations with each other. During design thinking exercises, they broke down perceived barriers to realizing their goals and developed realistic pathways for making their dreams come true. An Emerging Leader from South Africa said, “For the first time, I could give my dream a voice! Sharing it made it become more real.”
Following the Innovative Leadership Workshop, Emerging Leaders were featured at Women 2.0’s Founder Friday, hosted by Google San Francisco. Founder Friday is a community event to foster networks among aspiring and current female entrepreneurs. Three Emerging Leaders from Egypt, Kenya, and Nigeria spoke about their ventures, Eventtus, Tracesoft, and Motley Media, respectively.
After a long first week, everyone relaxed on Sunday during a boat cruise around the San Francisco Bay, complete with an audio tour, lunch, and a photo op at the Golden Gate Bridge.
Now that logistics are covered and introductions have been made, the 2013 Emerging Leaders are off to their professional mentorships, where they will spend the next four weeks working on a project with their mentors and host company colleagues. These mentorships will help the Emerging Leaders advance their career development and grow their professional networks before they return home in November.