It was just over a month ago that I had the pleasure of coordinating this year’s dynamic group of 23 emerging women leaders from 17 countries for the 9th annual Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership. Despite their different backgrounds, I instantly observed a bond of sisterhood that formed amongst these women which was inspired by the same drive to improve their companies and their community.
As the participants returned home after shadowing FORTUNE Most Powerful Women executives, it was evident that each of them had acquired a new vision, drive, and sense of commitment to accelerating positive change in their communities.
- One day after the Mentorship Program began, Elvira Sarieva chose to return home to Kyrgyzstan because she had been nominated to stand for election as one of the Vice Prime Ministers of her country. A few days later, she was elected.
- After meeting each other in the program, Kgomotso Tlhabanelo and Morongwe Malebye, both mentees from South Africa, made plans to open a school together upon their return home.
- Bala Mukkamala, a mentee from India, explained, “It helped me crystalize my expectations. It made me feel significant.”
- Karla Ruiz CofiĢ±o, a mentee from Guatemala, created the Pay It Forward Newsletter to document the impact of her work. In her newsletter she writes, “Leaving the world slightly more inspiring, beautiful and sustainable than when you found it-that’s success to me, and today thanks to you, I feel more resourceful, optimistic and empowered than ever before!
- For Florence Ozor, a discussion with Kathleen Mathews, EVP & Chief Global Communications & Public Affairs Officer of Marriott International, prompted a change of heart about stepping into the public eye. As the kidnapping crisis of the 276 schoolgirls in Nigeria unfolded, Florence joined the leadership team of the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign. You can read about her story in the Fortune Most Powerful Women blog.
I feel incredibly lucky to have been part of the Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership, not just because I met these inspiring women, but also because I came away with many personal and professional lessons. Beth Brooke-Marciniak, Global Vice Chair of Public Policy at Ernst & Young and a Board Member of Vital Voices, impressed upon me that “Difference matters; different perspectives catalyze creativity,” and that “failure is just feedback.” Most importantly, I learned that no matter what country a woman is from, she faces similar obstacles. Women all over the world struggle to negotiate the cultural norms that dictate their roles, both at home and in the workplace. We must stand together to elevate the status of women so that they are given the chance to rise to their leadership potential and make decisions about their life path instead of having these decisions made for them.
Please continue to join me as I celebrate the accomplishments and share updates of the mentees during their personal and professional journeys after the Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership.