IEEE WIE International Leadership Conference Report

The 2nd annual IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE) International Leadership Conference was led in San Jose, California, USA from the 23-26 April 2015. The conference showcased a variety of companies who displayed their products and services; they also attracted young graduates seeking job opportunities. Some of the companies present at the conference were Cisco, Intel, Google, Microsoft, General Electric, Yammer etc. There were more than 750 attendees at the conference with over 50 speakers.

The aim of the conference was to empower people (not just women) in the work place and enable them to know how to achieve a work/life balance through different strategies. The success stories of chief executive offices, presidents, vice presidents, directors, general managers etc. of various companies were accounted and the resounding points all of these speakers made can be summarized into the few compact points;

  • Be focused and go for what you want;
  • Find a problem, fix it and do not wait to be told what to do;
  • Take your career growth into your own hands;
  • Do not be hindered by gender;
  • Do what you love;
  • Do not be afraid to take risk and make bold decision;
  • It is better to try and fail than not trying at all;
  • There is a necessity for a mentor at every stage of one’s career.

The speakers reported that more women were needed in management/leadership positions and as engineers we stand a good chance in filling up those positions. In particular one speaker clearly indicated that inputs from women would make a huge difference in the conceptual and thus manufacturing process of consumer products.

Other aspects of the conference focused on office conflict management, people management, innovative ideas and how to express and execute these ideas, how to joggle between family, friends and career, when to have a career change and staying positive in the mist of chaos. There were life coaches to encourage us on how to achieve our long term goals; they armed us with worksheets and guidelines on how to identify our strengths and weaknesses then showed us how to fully utilize the strength while improving on the weaknesses.

There was something for everyone, from the career fair for the undergraduates and graduates showcasing different opportunities to the much needed encouragement for people in their early careers. Those in middle/management positions were given a boost on how to catapult their careers while the executives received reminders on life philosophies they have already employed that took them to their present position.

In conclusion, I want to express my sincere gratefulness to IEEE WIE and IEEE South African Section for sponsorship to attend this conference. I will apply all that I learnt in moving WIE South African Section forward.


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