Highlights from our Global Ambassadors Poland forum

Investing in women in Warsaw, Poland

In September, Bank of America and Vital Voices will bring the Global Ambassadors Program to Warsaw, Poland. The mentoring program will pair women business leaders from four Central and Eastern European countries — including Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Belarus — with women leaders (Ambassadors) from business, media and civil society to discuss business strategies, solutions, and leadership skills to help address the economic, societal and political challenges facing their countries and communities.

Why invest in women? Throughout Central and Eastern European countries, women are largely an untapped economic force. Women in the region comprise roughly a third of all entrepreneurs, with attitudes rooted in traditional perceptions of women’s roles pushing them to low-wage service and manufacturing sectors. These attitudes also contribute to a substantial wage gap. In Poland, for example, only 59% of women participate in the labor force, earning 52 cents for every dollar men make, resulting in the largest wage gap in the world. For comparison, women in the United States earn 77 cents for every dollar men make.
The Global Ambassadors Program in Poland will focus on empowering women entrepreneurs locally as well as those in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, enabling them to grow and develop their businesses by connecting them with the resources they need to overcome obstacles and contribute to their countries’ economies. As a result, a regional community of social and business leaders in Central and Eastern Europe will build upon a growing community of international leaders dedicated to women’s economic empowerment.

Bank of America Global Ambassadors share expectations as they arrive in Warsaw for 2014 Global Ambassadors Program

As part of our partnership with Vital Voices and commitment to women’s economic empowerment around the world, Bank of America women executives volunteer to be Global Ambassadors during each week-long event. This week, we have three executives volunteering to be Ambassadors as part of the ninth Global Ambassadors Program in Poland: Sheri Bronstein, Anna Colton, and Lorna Sabbia. We spoke with the three Ambassadors to learn more about their decision to become a Global Ambassador and what they hope to share with their mentees in Warsaw, posing the following question: Why did you decide to volunteer to be a Global Ambassador and what do you hope to gain from the experience?
Sheri Bronstein: Eager to Learn from her Mentee

Sheri is the Human Resources Executive for Global Banking and Markets and the regions which include Asia Pacific, EMEA, Latin America and Canada. In this role, she serves as a strategic advisor and is responsible for all Human Resource (HR) delivery across these lines of businesses and regions. In addition to her responsibilities for Global Banking & Markets and International HR, she is a member of the Global Banking and Markets Operating Committee, and the Global Diversity & Inclusion Council.
“I decided to volunteer so that I can use my leadership skills, international work experience and human resources expertise to contribute to a mentee and their career aspirations,” Sheri explained. “I also hope to learn more from my mentee and others on the program to expand my knowledge and expertise of global women’s initiatives and the challenges and opportunities of building businesses in other countries. I am really looking forward to meeting my mentee and the rest of the participants!”

Anna Colton: Believing in the Benefits of Mentoring

Anna is the Retail Banking Region Executive for the Metro New York/Mid-Atlantic Region for Bank of America. She leads a team of 7,000 employees working at 900 banking centers in the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Metro New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. In addition, Anna serves as the executive champion for the Preferred and Small Business Banking Employee Engagement and Diversity and Inclusion Council. She also is a member of the bank’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Council and Associate Advisory Council.
“I have always found that mentor/mentee relationships provide growth and learning for both people, so the opportunity to share ideas with female entrepreneurs around the world about how they can position their companies and themselves to reach their potential was very exciting and too good to pass up,” said Anna. “And I knew that, in turn, I, too, would develop a deeper understanding of the challenges that woman face around the world and would gain new friends in the process.”
Bank of America Global Ambassador Lorna Sabbia: Looking Forward to the Experience of a Lifetime

Lorna is a 19-year veteran with Bank of America and is currently Head of Managed Solutions for Global Wealth & Investment Management. In this role, Lorna is responsible for overseeing the discretionary and non-discretionary fee-based investment platforms, the global mutual fund and exchange-traded fund offerings across all channels, and relationship management with third-party investment partners, as well as the wealth management specialist team. 
With over 19 years at Bank of America, Lorna jumped at the chance to become a Global Ambassador: “I wanted to be part of the Global Ambassadors Program as I truly believe it will be an experience of a lifetime and I'm looking forward to learning from both the business leaders as well as other Ambassadors,” she said.
The week in Warsaw is sure to be a rewarding and empowering experience for all of the Global Ambassadors and their mentees, and we look forward to following them on their journey.

A connection between women entrepreneurship and giving back

This week, women entrepreneurs from Central and Eastern European countries are meeting in Warsaw, Poland, to help address the ongoing needs and challenges facing these business leaders from Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and Poland, as they navigate through the current social and economic instability in this region.

With the ninth Global Ambassadors Program forum underway, there’s an understanding that no matter what region of the world, Global Ambassadors and mentees strive for professional excellence, with personal convictions to use their success and knowledge as a way to give back to their communities.

“Part of my passion for business ownership includes sharing my success with my community,” said Victoria
Butsich, mentee and Director of ITMINE. “As a family-owned business, our goals include supporting local economic growth because we all prosper when businesses and communities share success.”

To help the women entrepreneurs grow their businesses, the week-long forum provides communications, business strategy development, and brand and marketing trainer-led sessions, as well as financial management and one-on-one mentoring.

“I’m sharing my expertise in product brand development and business distribution model planning, as well as lessons I’ve learned as a woman business owner to help my mentee, Elena, create her business growth and marketing strategy,” said Beata Mońka, Global Ambassador and President of the Management Board, GBC. “But, my relationship with Elena doesn’t end here. It’s a learning opportunity for both of us and will continue after Poland.”

As a new generation of promising women entrepreneurs rises, knowledge they receive during the forum and ongoing relationship building will aid them as they navigate operating businesses while facing challenges associated in regions with emerging economies and developing democracies.

Read more about our Global Ambassadors and their trip to Poland.

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Olena and Sheri discuss a strategic business plan for Olena's company.

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Agnieszka explains key elements of her business to her mentor, Lorna.

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Mentees Victoria, Katerina and Joanna engaging in a group session on public speaking.

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Victoria and her mentor Anna discuss best practices during a one-on-one mentoring session.

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Global Ambassadors and their mentees gather in Warsaw for a week of mentoring.

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Mentees gather during their welcome session.

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Elena Lyakh discusses her business plan with mentor Beata Mońka during a one-on-one mentoring session.


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