Athens, Ga. — Three dynamic female business leaders shared their advice and experiences with more than 100 students at the University of Georgia’s inaugural Women’s Leadership Forum on Wednesday.
Donna Hyland, president and chief executive officer of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Allison Moran, chief executive officer of RaceTrac, and Teresa Ostapower, chief digital officer for AT&T, discussed their career paths and answered students’ questions on overcoming barriers, building confidence and leading with conviction.
The event was hosted by the Office of the President and the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost and is part of the campus-wide Women’s Leadership Initiative that was launched in 2015.
“The growing emphasis on women in leadership roles bodes well for the future,” said Provost Pamela Whitten. “We have made great progress in higher education and in the corporate world, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. Providing thought-provoking opportunities like this for our students is an important step in preparing them for leadership roles in the future.”
Hyland advised students to take advantage of opportunities and to be confident in their abilities.
“Say yes to as many things as you can and get that experience, and then the sky is the limit as to what you can do,” Hyland said to the students. “It’s a great time for you to be entering the workforce, and I think you are going to be given a lot of advantages because of that. Hopefully some of us helped pave the way so that you can have every opportunity.”
One student who is considering joining her father’s company asked Moran about her experiences in her family business.
“For me to be successful didn’t mean I had to do it like my father,” said Moran, who took over the family business from her father, Carl Bolch, in 2013. “For me to be successful, I have to be my true, authentic self and lead in my way, and I have been able to have the freedom to do that and influence this organization in such a different way-in a way that is very, very deeply rewarding for me. You can find your own path.”
Ostapower discussed how she grew professionally during her nearly 30-year career with AT&T.
“Early in my career, I always had great ideas, but I didn’t always communicate them, and I didn’t always lean in to express my ideas and have people follow me,” she said. “It was a development opportunity for me to have that self-confidence, to be bold and get out there. You have to build up that confidence where you can make a difference, and your career and everything in life will take off.”
UGA’s ongoing Women’s Leadership Initiative is fostering the use of best practices in areas such as recruitment, hiring and work-life balance on campus. It also has resulted in new leadership development programming for faculty, staff and students.
Schools and colleges have created women’s leadership events and programs such as the Southern Region Women’s Agricultural Leadership Summit and the Terry Women’s Initiative, which recently received recognition as an Innovation that Inspires by AACSB International, the world’s largest business education network and accrediting organization.