Register for the HBA EWO Circle of Advisors program by Jan. 25

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HBA Executive Women’s Outreach Circle of Advisors program

Registration for 2013 program is now. Deadline for registration is January 25th.

By Diana Gáler PhD

My daughter has been working now for three years. For her, it is unthinkable that women would not be managers and directors in companies. After all, I was a senior leader in R&D at a major pharmaceutical company while she was growing up. The current generation assumes that most barriers have been shattered and that they have no limits.

Still, my generation knows that women barely make up a small fraction of CEOs and other senior leaders in industry in general and perhaps even fewer in healthcare. As I rose through the ranks in my career, I found that being able to follow in the footsteps of other pioneer women was essential. However, what I found almost invaluable was the small circle of other strong, accomplished, intelligent and generous women who were my peers. As women begin to break into the C-suite and the most senior levels in companies, the numbers of other women who are their peers are progressively decrease. They once again find themselves the only woman in the room.

The HBA Executive Women’s Outreach committee recognized this need among our members. Surveys and focus groups told us that senior women members of the HBA wanted activities that would help them find peer mentoring and create a greater sense of community. As a result, we created the Circle of Advisors (COA) pilot program in 2011 and could not be happier with the results.

Maddie Hunter of Hunter Unlimited and I, Diana Gáler of Gáler Coaching for Excellence, two executive coaches in the committee, spearheaded the program. The pilot began in September 2011, with a welcoming dinner and presentation by 2011 WOTY Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall. The twelve participants were assigned to one of three circles, each led by an experienced executive facilitator/coach, Donna Conforti of Conforti Coaching, Wendy Mantel of Mantel Coaching or me. Each circle met approximately once a month until June 2012.

At the end of the program the participants provided their feedback in an anonymous survey and participated in a discussion at the closing. Overall, the program met its goals of creating a greater sense of community among senior women and of providing useful learning and mentoring for them. Perhaps the best indicator of all is that the circles have continued to meet even after the end of the program.

The circle members’ words speak for themselves:

  • “I found enormous benefit from the different perspectives of the group. Everyone came at the challenges with fresh eyes and had good questions and unexpected solutions.”
  • “I learned how to become a better manager, for one. Most importantly for me, the tips from senior level executives on delegating and managing priorities were one of my greatest benefits. The other benefit was the help my circle provided to me through recommendations for outside consultants, etc., which have greatly aided my business”
  • “My COA is made up of the most interesting and experienced women. The diversity of perspectives and personalities was one of the best aspects of the sessions. I feel that we have really helped each other and I always look forward to the meetings. I routinely come away with ideas, advice and actions to implement.”
  • “What was wonderful about our circle was the back and forth of it.”

Buoyed by the success of the pilot, we will offer an expanded program beginning in February 2013. Please look out for announcements and registration materials. We are excited that this program can fill the gap that so many of our executive members experience and help them once and for all, overcome any barriers to success at the most senior levels of our industry.

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