4 Things I Learned at My First Women’s Leadership Summit

by Kathryn Madden | Aug 13, 2019

As I think about my experience attending the Women’s Leadership Summit, the first thing I think of is the food. In short, it was delicious. But beyond the tastes, the memory of those savory reception hors d'oeuvres carries with it a sense of belonging. As I mingled with these ladies, I knew I had found my people.

The CPA path is new to me, as I spent my 20s and early 30s in various nanny and entry-level positions. Despite its new-ness (and all of the glorious student loans that go along with the CPA path), I feel a peace and comfort from being with people that share the same interests, passions, and goals. Being at the Women’s Leadership Summit reminded that I am ever closer to meeting my CPA goals, and that I have found a career in which I feel at home.

I had four main takeaways from the Summit:

Practice leadership by taking and giving space

The day began with Betti Fujikado discussing how she made it to the C-suite by making connections, and the importance for leaders to create moments in time for both others and ourselves. Ms. Fujikado emphasized how those moments are what is important in life. She continued with this question: “We are privileged. How do we use this for the benefit of others?” No matter where you fall in the American economic spectrum, I think this is an important question to consider.

Embrace every opportunity

Ms. Fujikado’s question led into a key takeaway from The Importance of Women at the Decision Making Table panel: Leadership growth happens as we fully embrace new roles and opportunities. The panel discussed the importance of seizing every challenge as an opportunity to fail, to learn, to lead, to be yourself, and to grow through all of it. Words to live by for me.

It’s OK to fail

We need to give ourselves and others space to fail. When we truly seize a leadership opportunity, we risk failure. This is a given. I see this play out in my yoga practice on a daily basis. It is not only that I have to give myself space to sit out a posture or two (or, on a particularly difficult day, maybe even the whole class), but I also have to give myself the same space to nail every posture and be proud of that accomplishment. And what is true in the yoga studio is true in the world! Without that space, we would not fail at our first lemonade stand only to become the CFO of a Fortune 500 company. It was reassuring to hear that failure is part of every successful path.

Even the baby steps matter

The day ended with a very applicable and interactive talk from Success Bully’s Keita Williams. The ideas she discussed made me think of my own goals and the steps I must take to achieve them. Her session proved to me that I am on the right path, that my goals are achievable, and that baby steps are mandatory. Ms. Williams’ talk also reminded me to move abroad as soon as I can because this idea, despite how excited I am about it, scares the daylights out of me.

I am thankful to have had the opportunity to spend a day learning about leadership, being myself, connection, failure, and giving space. I look forward to future events at which I may mingle with my people, be transparent about my story, and learn how to do things differently next time.

I will leave you with this, my favorite quote of the day: “A person with a why can endure any how,” —Jan Beckmann, Business Coach.

Kathryn Madden is an Accounting senior at the University of Washington Foster School of Business, and a two time WA CPA Foundation Scholar. Kathryn is currently interning at PwC and excited to continue her education with a Masters of Tax upon graduating. She enjoys yoga and traveling.

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