Women from Fortune 500 companies leading global business initiatives will convene at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., from June 18-22, for a four-day high-powered leadership program that will give them the extra oomph to transform their organizations into truly global ones.
The executive education program called the Smith-Tuck Global Leaders Program for Women is presented collaboratively by two internationally renowned institutions — Smith College Executive Education for Women and Tuck Executive Education at Dartmouth. More than 500 women leaders have gone through this unique program which has been running annually since 2002. “The participant mix has become much more diverse over the years,” remarks Iris Newalu, director of Smith College Executive Education. This year, women executives will fly in from London, Beijing, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Aguadilla, Buenos Aires, Shanghai, Sao Paulo and from across the U.S. to learn from faculty thought leaders and from each other. They will represent companies such as Avon, Biogen Idec, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Deere & Company, Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase, Kimberly-Clark and Merck & Co. Janis Smith-Gomez, Vice-President of Marketing for Beauty at Johnson & Johnson, who was recently honored by Essence for contributions to innovations in cosmetics, skin care, nails and hair, is one of the high-achieving women who will be attending.
The program is all about operating in a global context and cross-cultural communication is a big part of it. “The greatest takeaway for me was hearing the diversity of responses from attendees, which underscored the importance of recognizing the challenges and opportunities inherent in cross-cultural environments,” commented a Deere & Co. executive who attended last year. “We are going to capitalize on the diversity we have,” says Newalu excitedly. The program will facilitate meaningful discussions about the socio-economic and cultural environments of the countries represented in the room.
The Smith-Tuck Global Leaders Program addresses the need for more women in global positions. According to a Catalyst report published in 2000 “Passport to Opportunities: U.S. Women in Global Business”, women face numerous obstacles in getting chosen for global assignments. Stereotypes about their ability to build relationships with customers in the host countries and their ability to relocate due to their family responsibilities pervade corporate culture. However, the report points out that the reality of women’s experiences does not match these assumptions. Women generally don’t mind relocating and – once they do – are as satisfied as their male peers with the experience. In fact, according to Smith-Tuck Global Leaders Academic Director, Vijay Govindarajan, a world-renowned thought leader, “women are particularly suited to operating in a networked world” and companies need to develop the female talent base. According to Govindarajan, “the most remarkable quality women have is that they are able to relate to people over whom they do not have positional power.” This relational advantage makes them ideally positioned to lead in a global environment.
The goal of the Smith-Tuck Global Leaders program is to develop four key global leadership capacities: 1) a global mindset to view cultural and geographic diversity as opportunities to exploit innovative ideas wherever they come from 2) a global network to enrich the learning environment, exchange ideas, mentor, coach and support each other 3) a global perspective to develop a broader understanding of the link between our own lives and aspirations and those of people throughout the world and 4) a global vision to take a holistic approach to understanding and integrating information across boundaries to drive global solutions. “We are looking forward to the last wrap-up session in which women will present an innovative global strategy that they plan to execute when they return to their companies,” says Newalu. There is nothing more powerful than a group of highly talented women sharing their ideas for the world!