“Building ships is an important job, and it's one that's fit for a woman,” said Susan Jacobs, VP of Human Resources & Administration at Newport News Shipbuilding-Huntington Ingalls Industries during her keynote address for the Hampton Roads Chamber. The Chamber is dedicated to being an inspiring ignitor for the development of leaders. This event, titled The Glass: Evolving the Business Woman, was held on September 28th at the Harbor Club at Waterside District.
150 women and a few men took part in the forum dedicated to the enrichment and development of local businesswomen. The day started with learning ways to relieve stress in the office. Kelley Minnaugh of Kelleyfit led the group through simple exercises to help focus on the day and center yourself.
Gina Sorrells of Merrill Lynch provided the presenting sponsor welcome for Bank of America. The discussion began with a panel of five women leaders including Rhonda Bridgeman, President of Comfort Systems of Virginia, Inc.; Jeri Prophet, Founder and CEO of IntellecTechs, Inc.; Julia Rust, attorney at Pierce/McCoy and Chair of tHRive, the young professionals organization of the Hampton Roads Chamber; Gina Sorrells, Market Executive at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management; and Toiya Sosa, Regional Public Affairs/Community Relations at GEICO.
Panel members detailed their career history and shared their insights to leadership and career advancement as they answered questions and engaged in a dialogue with the crowd. One token of advice all the panelists offered the audience was to be careful of over-planning their careers. “We all have our plans, “said Toiya Sosa, "but really it's going to happen when it's time."
An audience member asked the panelists what they would tell their 20 and 30-year-old selves. All of the women agreed they would tell their younger selves to relax, have some fun, and not take things so personally and seriously. Each of the panelists mentioned life-work balance as the most challenging part of their careers.
The day continued with breakout sessions. Personal Branding was presented by Peyton Tata & Renee Ainslie-Rodriquez of And One Marketing; Health and Wellness for Success was presented by Dr. Nathalie Evans of Chesapeake Regional Healthcare; and Women and Wealth Management was presented by Angie Utter Gauthier of Five Rings Financial.
Susan Jacobs closed the event with a fabulous keynote address discussing her career history, the inclusion and diversity efforts taking place at the Newport News Shipyard, and a few pieces of career advice for success. Jacobs' advice included the tangible, "Get an MBA," and the intangible, "learn to negotiate salary; get to know yourself; establish mentors and ask for and accept honest feedback." Jacobs also stressed the importance of remaining flexible, something that was also stressed in the earlier panel discussion. "Successful executives say the best career opportunities they've had are things they never expected. Be open-minded. Glass ceilings are meant to be broken."
Thank you to our sponsors: Presenting Sponsor, Bank of America; Speaker Sponsor, Newport News Shipbuilding-Huntington Ingalls Industries; Gold Sponsors, Clark Nexsen, The ESG Companies, Farm Fresh Food and Pharmacy, William & Mary Flex MBA Program; and the Virginia Beach Convention Center; Silver Sponsors, GEICO and Issues and Answers; Radio Sponsor, Sinclair Communications; Host Sponsor, Waterside District; Photography Sponsor, Steel Photography; and AV Sponsor, Productive AV.
(Pictured here: Susan Jacobs, VP of Human Resources & Administration at Newport News Shipbuilding-Huntington Ingalls Industries)