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Business Event Report: Business for Breakfast: Women’s Leadership Summit

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

Event Report: Business for Breakfast: Women’s Leadership Summit

Title: Replicating the Good Ole Boys Club: Leveraging your network for success

Where: Fort Worth Club

When: Wednesday, Feb. 17, 7:30 a.m.

Sponsors: Fort Worth Business, Plain for Women, Community Foundation of North Texas

What: A panel discussion focused on women in business

Who: Moderator, Shivaun Palmer, co-founder and CEO of Plaid for Women Inc., a digital media company and blogging platform

Panelists:

• Lorraine M. Martin, deputy executive vice president, Mission Systems and Training at Lockheed Martin

• Elva Concha LeBlanc, president, Tarrant County College – Northwest Campus

• Luddy Arias, senior manager, BNSF Railway

• Debbie Cooley, president, M-Pak Inc.

New vocabulary: “Bubbified,” from Cooley, president of packaging distribution firm M-Pack.

“I work in a very industrial and – for lack of a better word – ‘bubbified’ field,” she said. Some vendors don’t work well with women, so she has men call them. “They talk to them and they talk about fantasy football or whatever and take their orders.”

Working with people you don’t like: “Sometimes when you dislike someone it’s because you don’t understand,” said Luddy Arias, senior manager at BNSF Railway. “Most important of all, when you get in a conflict with someone address the conflict, not the person.”

Saying “No,” or saying “Yes”: “I had to kind of go out of my own comfort zone and learn about data centers – just enough to be dangerous,” said Arias. “If I had allowed my fear to get in the way when this opportunity came my way, I might have missed out what I have now.

“I think it’s really important you have to decide if that is an opportunity for you and take a leap of faith and just know that you can overcome your fears and you will succeed. It goes back to being prepared and doing your homework and using your network.”

On the job training is critical, said Elva Concha LeBlanc, president of Tarrant County College’s Northwest Campus. “The only way you’re going to get on the job training is by saying yes.”

Being nimble: “I think a lot of us have a preconceived notion of what we were trained to do, what we thought we went into college for,” said Lorraine M. Martin, deputy executive vice president, Mission Systems and Training at Lockheed Martin. “When a project or something different is in front of you, it takes a lot of courage to say, ‘I have never done that before but I’m going to give it a try,’” she said.

“When someone else says, ‘I think maybe you can,’ the most important thing to do is to stand there on your own two feet and say, ‘I think I can.’ Stepping into those areas of ambiguity – especially when a whole group is perhaps unbalanced – and find a way to bring some balance, to me that’s power.”

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