Highlights from our Global Ambassadors Brazil forum

Jun 14, 2013

Day 3: Empowering Women Leaders through Networks

The motto of Sao Paulo, "I am not led, I lead," was in full display on the third day of the Global Ambassadors Program in Brazil, which brought together women leaders from industries across South America for a public forum featuring discussion of women's leadership, the power of mentoring and women as drivers of economic growth.

The public forum included four panel discussions on topics including the role of women as drivers of business and economic growth, the barriers women business-owners face in Brazil, the importance of integrating women-owned businesses into global value chains and strategies to build stronger networks among women across South America.

The power and impact of professional networks for women was a recurring theme across panels.

"Successful networks have two components: first, access to people and perspectives; and, second, a shared commitment to skill building and personal development opportunities that keep people connected," said Katie Morgan, Human Resources Executive at Bank of America Merrill Lynch."

Ana Fontes, Founder of Rede Mulher Empreendedora, added, "Networking is crucial to the success of entrepreneurs. It is our oxygen."

Each of the panels pointed to the untapped potential of female leaders in Brazil and took strides to demonstrate how companies can leverage women's increased labor force participation to expand business growth and economic opportunity.

On Saturday, before closing out the week and Global Ambassadors Program in Brazil, mentors and mentees laid out their future plans for maintaining a successful mentee/mentor relationship, including strategies for how to tackle immediate and longer-term goals.

Follow the conversation on Twitter using #globalambassadors.


Day 2: Empowering Women Leaders through Networks

Thursday’s session began with a candid discussion among mentors and mentees of a central question: How do you build a dynamic business women’s network in Brazil?

The participants shared ideas for how to design and sustain a network that would continue the work of this week’s Global Ambassadors Program mentoring forum. Its goal would be to help expand access to opportunities, information and services that enable business growth and leadership development for women business leaders.

Mentors and mentees joined with Bank of America and Vital Voices team members to discuss the opportunities that the network would present, as well as how to navigate the challenges of building a network, particularly given the size and diversity of Brazil.

Over the course of the afternoon, the seven pairs of mentors and mentees continued their one-on-one mentoring work, further defining their goals and objectives for working together. Mentees also had the opportunity to participate in skill-building training sessions led by Vital Voices and Bank of America, including business fundamentals, financial management, strategic planning and the power of storytelling.

As Luz Maria de La Mora, Founder of LMMConsulting, noted about the skill-building sessions, “In addition to the impact of our one-on-one mentoring, which is focused on specific goals, we also want to help deepen the expertise of mentees in core capacities, such as organizational leadership, strategic planning and financial management.”

The program continues Friday with a public forum, where more than 150 business, community and media leaders will explore the role of women as drivers of economic growth in Brazil.

Follow the conversation on Twitter using #globalambassadors.


Day 1: Connecting Business Women in Brazil

Today’s launch of the Global Ambassadors Program in Brazil began with ambassadors and mentees meeting to exchange career perspectives, life stories and commitments for the coming days of mentoring.

Throughout the discussion, the most powerful common message that emerged from participants, whether from Brazil, Mexico, Argentina or the United States, was a life-long personal and professional commitment to gender equality – and the importance of mentorship.

Many women shared stories of successful struggles to excel and to learn from failure across industries: banking, media, microfinance, legal and international trade consulting.

In the words of Fabiola Brumley, Global Commercial Banking, Southeast Region Banking Executive from Bank of America and an ambassador, “Women are willing to take more risks. Failure is how we learn.”

Participants were enthusiastic in embracing the opportunity of four intensive days to learn, inspire and challenge each other; and to enhance their collective skills, abilities and talents in service of their communities and enterprises. Whether working with their mentor to reconceive their business model, scope out a new production facility or reassess their market, the mentees are all poised for success.

In the afternoon session, Lina Useche Jaramillo, founder and current CEO of Aliiança Empreendedora, hosted Global Ambassador Program participants on a site visit with members of Arte e Ação. Members of Arte e Ação create accessories such as purses and wallets using PET plastic from bottles. Aliiança Empreendedora, who assists with technical support and management guidance, helps provide this group of artisans with skills they need to succeed.

During the site visit, members of Arte e Ação shared ideas on management, continuing education and skills crucial for economic growth for women in business. Thursday's sessions will focus on the role of women as drivers of economic growth in Brazil. Stay tuned and follow the conversation on Twitter using #globalambassadors.

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