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Building Your Legacy with the Network of Executive Women

Posted By Robert Wray, Thursday, August 2, 2012

NEW Vice Chair Catherine Lindner (Vice President, Retail Marketing, Walgreen Co.) addressed the needs of our legacies, and our companies, noting that the Network of Executive Women needs to be assessed the same way.

"What should this organization look like?” asked Lindner (pictured below) during today's briefing.

The first step is to create NEW’s brand position, so that looking back from 2020, all can say that "we never really dreamed this was possible.”

In sharing about her commitment to women’s leadership, Lindner cites one of her heroes as her grandmother, who enjoyed a successful academic career, then eventually quit a job at a time when making more money than her husband would have been looked at askance.

Another hero was her mother, whose pioneering work in computer science gave way to family rearing and domestic duties.

It was the choices these women had to make that have influenced Lindner’s commitment to paving the way for women to enjoy successful professional careers along with their other desires in life.

She brings this commitment to NEW, as the growth possibilities have already been, and are, "amazing.”

A disciplined research approach has included over one hundred interviews, with individuals and focus groups; men, women of color, emerging leaders. These conversations urge NEW to amplify the collective voice of the NEW community, to unleash our wisdom, experience and power. Then will it be even more possible to help drive women’s authentic leadership, and accelerate business.

Lindner also notes that the talent pool is changing, advancing the need to embrace diversity. The Diversity Forum needs to be reinvented, said Lindner, and speaking with the same kind of candor as was heard during yesterday’s breakout session will urge more women and men, Caucasian and of color, to join NEW’s journey.

It’s important to note that millennials view the world differently from older generations, in that men and women share the same desires, including a desire for quality time with family. One men’s focus group yielded this information: "I don’t want your job. I don’t want the travel. I don’t want the hours.”

Flexibility, an agile work force, and use of technology is critical as well. Some of the needs for employers to change have been suppressed because of the economy. Whatever changes are desired by NEW, women are leading the ship.

"The needs that we’ve been seeking are what the millennial generation want regardless of gender.”

Yet research can only get you so far, said Lindner. There are strengths we haven’t yet imagined. Some of what we have to do is visionary – what we’ve heard is, we have the permission to do it. As Gisel said [during yesterday’s featured keynote speech], ‘Roar.’ Yet, just looking at numbers doesn’t tell an entire story. If our goal is to move forward, some of what we have to do is think outside of what we know now.”

"As an organization, we need to make choices as to how far we push,” she added.

Lindner finished her briefing by examining the nature of her legacy to women in leadership, while she has two sons.

"I ultimately believe that if we create a better workforce for all of us, it will be a better workforce for my sons…. and I truly believe that we have the power to create that change.”

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