On the afternoon of December 7th 2015, WIL held the Closing Session of the Women Talent Pool 2nd Edition at Microsoft Briefing Center in Brussels, Belgium. The session gathered around 40 participants from emerging leaders, WIL members, and talents of the first WTP edition.
This half-day session’s aim was to listen to the talents feedback, experiences, lessons learned, and favorite activities from the 18 months platform as well as suggestions for the next edition, and to hear from WIL partners’ high-level perspective on the importance of investing in talents and programs such as these both internally and externally.
Shelley McKinley, Microsoft, hosting peer of the event, officially opened the session and genuinely expressed how thrilled she is to host the WTP event. She also explained that investing in cross boundaries networks like this one, and securing the talent’s future is crucial for a company like Microsoft as it is part of its core values to do so.
Shelley gave the floor to Brigitte Dumont, VP CSR at Orange and moderator of the 1st session on “Taking Stock of the Program”. Brigitte echoed Shelley by reaffirming that the WTP is a viable solution to the concerns and challenges faced by young talents who live and work in a very complex environment. It helps them acquire more responsibility and be better decision-makers capable of taking leadership positions and generating growth within their companies and the society as a whole.
Following this short introduction, Brigitte asked Laure, Claudia, Yvonne and Cristina, four WTP 2nd edition emerging leaders, to share their take-aways and lesson learned from the program. Claudia Collacchi, Qualcomm started with Charlotte Wilton (Mayor of Ottawa, 1963) quote “Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.” Indeed, women are incredible at multi-tasking without too much trouble thanks to one of their key strengths: resilience. The WTP taught her that as well as how to be more confident. Laure Cousin, Account Manager, Orange shared the same analysis. Thanks to the program, she feels stronger and empowered as she found a platform where she can share thoughts and experiences freely –without the impression of being judged – with women who are from diverse backgrounds, countries and work environments. Yvonne Chebib, Business Manager, Microsoft also echoed Laure and Claudia saying that the WTP provided them with soft skills, insights, networking and communication tips, top-notch speakers who offered their perspective and personal experience on several aspects of professional development to help them navigate the paths to leadership and at the same time gave them access to women leaders across the network. Finally, Cristina Cuadra Garcia, EU Commission mentioned that thanks to the WTP she realized that women in the private sector can be confronted to similar difficulties despite working in a different field than hers. She added that she is more self-confident than 18 months ago and better prepared for negotiations or meetings because she knows how to speak up without being afraid of making mistakes.
Moving towards the partners perspectives, Céline Brémaud, VP EMEA, Microsoft, explained that the WTP is a reality check that allows her to refresh her brain and thinking process by learning from others. The program helps a company like Microsoft to better see how the market shifts and launch the right products that younger generations are interested in. It is a win-win platform offering a safe networking environment where she can test herself and see how she resonates with the talents. Véronique Karcenty, Director HR, Orange agreed with Céline by saying that networking is a key to success as it helps to develop our skills and broaden our horizon.
In terms of suggestions for the WTP 3rd edition, Claudia and Yvonne would like to diversify a bit more the network by involving other sectors and by having more executive men presence in the audience; it really adds to the aim of understanding diverse leaders’ perspectives and give them access to women leaders and talents. Laure explained that she enjoys talking to her fellow emerging leaders and would appreciate participating in happy hours that would allow her/them to share personal experience. For Cristina, communication is also what matters the most, so she would love to participate in a mentoring program with WIL members. Finally, Yvonne added that she would also enjoy more connections and alliances with other women in leadership networks in the world.
Coming back to the HR perspective, Véronique Karcenty explained that the WTP is a real investment for a company like Orange. So, they know how much this network will help their talents broaden their horizon and build their confidence. Furthermore, Céline Brémaud mentioned that the WTP is one of the rare Microsoft investments in a network. Therefore, the WTP is extremely valuable to them as it helps Microsoft better understand the market, and gives them access to the latest trends on regulations as well as to academic perspectives on numerous topics. She finished by telling the talents that they should be vocal and do what they want to do with thanks to the skills they acquired in the program.
Following a lively networking break, the second session, which tackled the topic of “Sustainable Job Creation & Social Innovation at the heart of Inclusive Growth” began with moderator Elena Bonfiglioli,