Helping Change Company Culture with Industry Leaders: AWE Live Conference

By Sara Porcaro | Oct 14, 2020
Rhode Island, Conference, Leadership, Training, Stress Management, Disabilities, Company, Culture, Inclusion, Diversity

In the quest for professional development, it’s naturally worth focusing on the hard skills: the marketing tools, the financial policies, the cutting edge research in one’s field. However, there’s something to be said for the conferences that focus on the skills that benefit everyone, such as mindfulness, leadership, and the importance of staying grounded in an ever-hectic world. These are topics where there’s no one answer, no one method of success, and for that reason, they’re places where personal experience and the advice that blooms from it becomes a treasure trove of learning opportunities and moments for personal reflection.
One such company that revolves around community, great discussion, and connecting professionals from many different walks of life is Advancing Workplace Excellence (AWE), and this October, twenty-three Perspectives employees had the opportunity to attend and learn from thought leaders during a three-day event. AWE received support from businesses both local and national level, such as Amica, The LEGO Group, AMGEN, and more to ensure a successful conference experience. They’ve also partnered with Skills for Rhode Island’s Future to train interns in the PrepareRI program, bringing essential resources on diversity, leadership, and other topics critical to one’s success at every level of their career. And with talks on Change Agility, The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week and Leading with Inclusion: The Power Between Us, there was something for everyone at the virtual conference.
[AWE] are exceptional trainers and consultants, who have an extensive network of leaders in all industries
“[AWE] are exceptional trainers and consultants, who have an extensive network of leaders in all industries” says PJ Harder, Co-Director of Training at Perspectives. “Earlier this year in August, with the support from [CEO Judy Niedbala] we were provided with a complimentary mico-learning session on Emotional Agility during our Management Meeting via Zoom, and it was a huge help for our employees. One said that it was ‘just what they needed’ regarding stress management.”
The early October conference was likewise full of valuable information, as each half-day conference included guest speakers from a variety of industries and experience levels, such as Executive Director Nina Pande from SkillsRI, Founder, Director, Research and Innovation, Mindfulness Center, Brown University Dr. Judson Brewer and moreThe conference provided an opportunity where these individuals were encouraged to shared their thoughts on what it means to be an authentic, genuine leader amidst all the expectations and demands of the professional world.
“If your heart is in the right place, and you care about something, you’re authentic,” said Chief of Marketing Wendy Montgomery at IGT—just one example of the discussions being had on what it means to be oneself and lead others in the workplace.
Calandra Jarrell, SVP, Diversity and Inclusion at Bank America, too, had powerful anecdotes of speaking up for the things she cared about, no matter their rank, and she had the advice that professionals should “the boss [they] needed when [they] first started,” and specifically, “the women [they] needed as a girl.”
With so much to think about from these speakers, Perspectives professionals connected with each other to discuss what they took away from the conference, both during each session’s breaks and during a post-conference debrief. Beyond using this information for each employee’s personal growth and learning, the debrief especially served as a place to identify where the lessons learned could be applied to Perspectives’ company culture. Like AWE, Perspectives is focused on inclusion and creating a culture everyone can thrive in, with leaders to mentor and coach others in creating a comfortable and efficient work environment.
On finding different ways to lead a team in these strange times, Tejal Tarro, AWE Co-Creator reminds us to “challenge yourself and learn how to lead differently: reach out to your employees and find out how to help make them whole, feel safe and cared for. Connect with and talk with them regularly and continue to rethink your leadership style and approach.”
We’re grateful for the opportunity to learn from the many presenters at the AWE Virtual conference about how to be mindful not only of how we’re processing the changes occurring in this wild year, but also of how we view ourselves, and how we can influence others positively, both now and in the future. Beyond the pandemic, and the many changes that have come to everyone’s dynamic at the workplace, there are also those questions of identity, leadership, and more that AWE has been careful not to let slip from people’s attention.


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