On Wednesday, May 19, members of the Episcopal community gathered virtually for the third Women of EA event. The timely topic this year was Networking in the New Normal, the dynamic discussion centered on how women can continue growing in their careers through times of uncertainty.
Engage Episcopal: Women of EA, Networking in the New Normal
On Wednesday, May 19, members of the Episcopal community gathered virtually for the third Women of EA event.
The evening's speakers were Nancy Brown '91, senior counsel for the Office of Counsel to the Inspector General for Health and Human Services, Leslie Ferraro P '20 '23, president, QVC US and HSN, Kimmy Gardner Reinking '00 vice president of Human Resources at World Wrestling Entertainment, and Silicia "Lo-Lo" Lomax '14, health policy associate for Waxman Strategies and contact tracer with the CDC Foundation. You can read more about the panelists here.
The timely topic this year was Networking in the New Normal, and the dynamic discussion centered on how women can continue growing in their careers through times of uncertainty.
Director of Advancement Jen Fifer P '31 '33 introduced the moderator, Caroline Waxler Levitt '89, saying, "With events like these, we continue to build relationships that help us grow and support each other's personal and professional goals, providing continuing education that would not be possible without our shared community. I hope you will reach out to a friend or a fellow alum after the event to share even one nugget of information that sparked an 'aha' moment for you, tonight."
Caroline began by emphasizing how the pandemic has fundamentally changed the role of women, "many of whom have left the workforce due to job loss or family obligations." She shared that 1.5 million fewer mothers of school-aged children were working in March of 2021 than in February of 2020. Concerns have escalated over the untenable mental load on moms, the lack of support for working women from management, and the ever-decreasing work-life balance.
Returning to the Office
"The move to work-from-home resulted in both positive changes and some challenges," said Leslie. Her goal for her teams is to get the best of both worlds by being thoughtful and intentional about the move back to the office. One of her guiding principles moving forward is to offer flexibility whenever and wherever possible, which should be a benefit to all employees--especially female.
Nancy thinks this can be an opportunity for working women to assert themselves in expressing their needs. "There is good evidence that we are doing great work even though we are not putting in face-time in the office," she said, adding that the 'face-time' factor may be a bigger issue for women starting out in their careers.
Lo-Lo agreed that productivity levels have proven to be as high - or even higher - than they were before the pandemic. She added that our communication style may change for good (and for the better), with technology enabling people to attend events and meetings without having to fly across the country.
The Job Search
Remote work has also changed the landscape of recruiting, hiring, and talent management. The panel discussed how women might make the most of new opportunities that might be available with higher salaries at greater distances.
If you have been away from work during the pandemic, the panelists recommended working on Zoom skills. "We are finding out that there's a whole array of soft skills that you really need even more of in a virtual space," said Nancy, "You can't rely on being in a physical room with people anymore."
Lo-Lo described the differences she experienced interviewing over Zoom (she clocked more than 100 hours of interviews during her job search this past summer). Kimmie agreed that in this pandemic, the interview process has elongated. She recommended having patience through your search.
There is also an opportunity after a break from work to refocus and make sure your next job is the right fit. Kimmie shared that this is a great time for women to find a job that they are passionate about, set the boundaries early in the process, and find a culture that fits them.
If you are looking for your next job, Lo-Lo recommended making the most of platforms like Linked-In and Alumnifire, and reaching out to people in your network. She shared, "You can still have a coffee chat over zoom."
Nancy agreed and recommended expanding your definition of what a mentor might look like. Connections and mentors do not just need to be with people older than yourself, or even be in your field, she added. "Lo-Lo graduated many years after me but that's not going to stop me from having a 15-minute coffee break and learning from her," she said.
"You can network with practically anyone," Lo-Lo agreed. "Don't limit your connections," added Kimmie. If someone reaches out to you on Linked-In, "be open to it, because you never know where those connections are going to lead," she concluded.
We hope you will be inspired to do just that and expand your professional network through the EA community. Please reach out to Leigh Stewart, Director of Alumni Engagement, to get more involved.