I just returned to Germany from our annual Best Practices for Chemicals conference in Houston and what a week we had! So many great sessions, great speakers and great conversations with both customers and partners.
A special highlight was our “Women in Chemicals” Dinner. We were thrilled to be able to provide this to our conference goers for the second time. Last year was a huge success and, quite legendary, with speaker Laura Tibodeau, CIO of Americas Styrenics giving a rousing speech and passing out chocolate, Mardi Gras beads and books! We all left that evening feeling more confident, with a whole new network at our feet. With that in mind I felt the pressure to top it this year. That pressure was unfounded as we had a stellar line up this year too and the event was, by all accounts, once again inspiring, fun and motivating.
The evening was enjoyed by over 30 women in the Chemicals Industry. We started with a short introduction to SAP Women Forward, an externally facing Women’s Community launched recently by SAP which is dedicated to bringing women, and those who work with women, mentor women and support women’s issues together to network, build skills and share insights, success strategies and business challenges. I told the story of how I reluctantly agreed to lead the BWN Chemicals chapter but that I am ultimately so happy that I did as I have learned and grown so much and met so many inspirational women along the way.
We then played a unique test-tube themed ice breaker, with questions ranging from “What was your first concert?” to “What’s the greatest advice you’ve received?” The laughs and stories exchanged made the noise levels in the roam soar!
Finally, we got our panel members together to start the real discussion! We were honored again to have Laura Tibodeau with us as well as Delaney Bellinger, CIO of Hunstman and Kimberly Ried, VP at Hitachi. What a powerful group of women! When asked the question “Who inspires you and why?” all three named female family members (moms and Grandmothers) as their major role model. As the mother to two daughters this was especially touching for me. When asked about mentors and making important daily decisions in their companies it was agreed that it came down to the people every time and that that was the most important. When asked about the biggest career risk they had ever taken all three said the same thing more or less: No risk, no reward. Meaning, jump in before you feel ready, empower yourself every time you take a risk. Whether you succeed or fail you will always get something out of it. If you are presented with an opportunity, always say yes.
We closed with some final favorite quotes:
Laura: Laughter is the best calorie counter.
Delaney: Be yourself but be your best self.
Kimberley: Your attitude determines your altitude.
The rest of the evening was spend networking and enjoying live music, food and drink. Where you at the event? I would love to hear your feedback on the evening. Please provide comments below. We look forward to seeing next year and to growing our “Women in Chemicals” network.