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Shaping Success, Together




Regina Gomez (MBA ’25) shares the highlights from the WSA’s Annual Conference.


As the clock struck 8:00, a line began to form outside Klarman for the Women’s Student Association (WSA)annual conference. Just 20 minutes later, it had grown past Spangler. Attendees looked elegant and poised in their freshly pressed attire, adorned with silk scarves, accompanied by fashionable jewelry and sporting perfectly tailored outfits. Their hair swayed in the breeze, adding to the energy of the morning. Groups from across the country, even as far as Colombia and beyond, gathered for this unique opportunity. Young and old, from various corners of the world, mingled excitedly, discovering the surprises tucked inside their goodie bags and eagerly anticipating the day ahead.


Yet, it was not merely the allure of curated goodies that filled the air with anticipation. It was the gathering of over 600 women, united in their mission to defy norms and carve their own paths to success. In that moment, it became clear: the WSA conference transcends conventional professional gathering. It is a jubilant celebration of femininity, resilience, and solidarity. In the halls of Klarman, a sisterhood blossomed, weaving a tapestry of strength and support that will continue to inspire me.


The day’s agenda overflowed with enriching content: three inspiring keynote speakers, a thrilling pitch competition, and six engaging talks and panels, delving into an array of topics from entrepreneurship to minority leadership to often-overlooked burdens women bear, among others. As women streamed in and out of Aldrich, Klarman, and Spangler, the atmosphere crackled with anticipation. While I could not participate in every session, I would like to share the insights I gleaned, hoping they resonate with you.


Know Thyself


A prevailing theme echoed throughout the conference emphasized the importance of self-awareness and staying true to oneself. Amidst the overwhelming amount of advice you may receive from the many stakeholders that surround you, it is crucial to identify your core values – your non-negotiables – and steadfastly uphold them. This clarity empowers you to make decisions aligned with your priorities, whether it is choosing family over career demands or opting for a break over perpetual productivity. Embracing authenticity, as highlighted by L'Oréal's CHRO Stephanie Kramer when she suggested, “Change where you are to be who you are,” fosters a profound sense of self-acceptance. We need to diminish the weight of guilt, leading us to environments where values are honored and respected.


Who Said "Balance"?


During the enlightening panel discussion,“Breaking the Silence on Women's Invisible Load,” the conventional notion of balance came under scrutiny. Katherine Morgan Schafler, author of The Perfectionist’s Guide to Losing Control, challenged the ideal of perfectionism and the notion that self-care is what we need to thrive. The room clapped when she mentioned,“You can’t self-care out of patriarchy.” Self-care, she emphasized, is a deeply personal endeavor, defying one-size-fits-all prescriptions. Furthermore, as Stephanie Kramer elaborated, balance resembles more of a seesaw than a static equilibrium. Balance fluctuates between moments of stability and flux, each imbued with its unique beauty.


Shifting Your Mindset


Kramer also implored her audience to embrace a paradigm shift, bidding farewell to FOMO and embracing COMO: “comfort in missing out.” By honoring our intrinsic needs and embracing gratitude for the abundance in our lives, we cultivate contentment and fulfillment. Julia Furnari, executive director of Tapestry Foundation and Coach Foundation, urged us to constantly defy our way of thinking and redefine success, acknowledging its fluid nature and evolving definition. As we navigate life's intricacies, our mindset must evolve from a fixed perspective to one embracing the dynamic nature of existence.


Together We Can Do It


In the thought-provoking panel,“Changing the Narrative as Minority Women Leaders,” the importance of uplifting others emerged as a resounding theme. Speakers underscored the significance of supporting fellow women, especially those belonging to marginalized groups, as a catalyst for progress. Empathy, they stressed, lies at the heart of our collective success, transcending corporate confines to enrich our everyday lives. Competition, according to Carol Miu, former CEO of Peoplefun, should be redirected inward, fostering collaboration and camaraderie among peers. For, as Kramer astutely noted, it is not just what you achieve but who you uplift along the way that truly matters.


It Is All About Partnership


Furnari, alongside Maria del Mar Velez, Founder and CEO of Crack the Code, underscored the essence of partnership in our professional journeys. The pair emphasized the pivotal role of empathy and sacrifice in fostering supportive relationships, highlighting the transformative power of shared endeavors. 


Conclusion


I extend my admiration to the men who actively participated in the WSA conference dialogue. By engaging in these conversations, we pave the way for mutual understanding and collaborative progress towards gender equality. Together, we can glean valuable insights and forge stronger alliances, nurturing an inclusive environment where all voices are heard and valued. Here is to hoping for even greater male involvement in the future.


I extend heartfelt gratitude to every woman whose contributions made this event possible. Your collective efforts gifted me an afternoon filled with inspiration and introspection, igniting a glimmer of hope for the continued evolution of our world. As members of the HBS community, we should cherish these opportunities and extend gratitude to those around us: our friends, female professors, and the dedicated women who serve us daily in the cafeteria and classrooms. Let us uplift each other, shaping our success….together.

Regina Gomez (MBA ’25) was born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico. She graduated from Tecnológico de Monterrey with a degree in Economics. Prior to HBS she worked at Mastercard and an early-stage fintech as a Global Strategy and Operations Manager specializing in the payments industry.

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