Thursday morning, a few of the 451 Marketing ladies and I attended the annual Top 100 #BBJWomenLedBiz breakfast at the Westin Copley, presented by The Boston Business Journal and The Commonwealth Institute. It was an inspiring morning to say the least with almost 300 attendees, networking, panel discussions, awards and more. We were pleased to be there to witness the fabulous roster of women leaders to be recognized.
What I found to be the most interesting part of the morning was the panel discussion, newly added this year. The panel was moderated by Andrea Cohen, CEO of Houseworks (@house_works) and speaking was Kip Hollister (@kiphollister), founder and CEO of Hollister (@HollisterBoston), Laura Sen, president and chief executive officer, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc. (@BJsWholesale), and Shirley Singleton, president of Edgewater. The panel discussed how to be an authentic leader vs. how to be deliberate in your leadership – a topic I was eager to hear about. The general consensus of the panel was that the key was to make sure that you stick it out when times get tough; “you don’t cave,” said Laura Sen. “When times get tough, you just don’t cave.” Kip Hollister echoed Laura’s sentiment. “Go right through the pain – don’t go around it,” she stressed. “It will make you stronger as a leader.”
The panel also discussed the importance of maintaining office culture as a leader, especially when it comes to retaining talent whose goals align with yours and that of your business to strengthen your mission. Laura Sen stated simply “Leadership is surrounding yourself with the right people.” Kip agreed, saying “Be deliberate in your office culture. Say it out loud. And if people don’t want to get on board, get rid of them.”
In addition to the four companies on the panel, 96 other women-led businesses were recognized in a presentation at the end of the event. Rounding out the top three were the soon-to-be retired Trudy Sullivan, president and CEO of Talbots (@Talbots), Laura Sen of BJ’s Wholesale Club, and Carol Meyrowitz, president and CEO of TJX Co. (@TJXCO).
Were you at the event? What were some of your favorite quotes from the panel? Who were you especially inspired by?