Above: Galina Melnikova of Russia and her mentee, Tatiana Semikop of Ukraine, find a quiet moment to begin their mentorship.
Breakthrough change was the emergent theme after five packed days in Warsaw with Global Ambassadors Program participants from Poland, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
Using trainer Kathleen Holland’s strategic planning workshop as a springboard, mentees deepened their understanding of human resources, financial management and access to finance, coached by Anna Colton of Bank of America, our program partner. They covered the fundamentals of running a business and securing loans, rethinking new approaches and engaging each other in a robust exchange on geopolitical realities affecting their personal and professional lives.
“It’s priceless, in terms of the ideas that you gain from these extraordinary women,” said Victoria Butsich, co-owner of a user experience and design firm in Belarus. “They want to share their knowledge. Ask one question and you get so many answers that you need to write them down and think about it later. But you realize that your world has changed already.”
Victoria has plans to de-code her tech messaging and improve her hiring structure.
Mentee Katerina Cronstedt talks about the “magic” that happens when like-minded women come together from around the world:
One-on-one mentoring sessions allowed for uninterrupted time to dig deep into strategy and planning.
“It was a great week – very intense,” said Agnieszka Bili�ćska of Poland. “I did not have clarity. Now I have it and it’s incredible.”
Lorna Sabbia of Bank of America was Agnieszka’s mentor, and worked with her on a plan to increase the local Vital Voices chapter revenue by 200 percent in 2015.
“I’ve learned just as much as my mentee and this has been one of the best experiences of my life,” she said.
U.S. Ambassador welcomes the Global Ambassadors Program
At a reception on Wednesday with members of the local Vital Voices Poland chapter and hosted by the U.S. Ambassador Stephen Mull and his wife Cheri, promoting women’s leadership was very much the evening’s call to action.
“The most troubling thing in the world is lack of economic opportunities for women,” said Ambassador Mull to more than 200 of Warsaw’s leading businesswomen and professionals. “The most successful economies are where women participate on more equal terms with men.”
Part of the collective intelligence
Later in the week, social media trainer Karla Ruiz CofiĢ±o asked the group, What does a networked society mean? The reality of information overload and 24/7 connectedness may be recognized by all but Karla suggested if we don’t use social and digital media to our advantage we will fall behind.
Clicking quickly through slides illustrating how the Internet is everywhere, it was a wake-up call to everyone in the room. The message was clear: Share thought leadership, engage new communities online and watch business development grow. When you engage with others who feel the same about women’s leadership in business and social enterprise, chances are the message will spread.
As Karla said, “If you’re part of the collective intelligence you are shaping a better world.”
Watch the program’s YouTube playlist.
Photography: David Hume Kennerly