Female leaders share valuable insights on personal, professional growth

More than 280 faculty and staff members joined the virtual Visionary Women Panel: Transforming Work and World discussion on Tuesday to learn from University and South Florida leaders.
Female leaders share valuable insights on personal, professional growth

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Human Resources’ Office of Workplace Equity and Inclusion hosted a virtual event on Tuesday, March 29—Visionary Women Panel: Transforming Work and World—with leaders from the University of Miami and South Florida. More than 280 faculty and staff members joined the discussion and shared valuable takeaways from the engaging dialogue.

The panel was moderated by Erin Kobetz, vice provost for research and scholarship, University of Miami; tenured professor in the Departments of Medicine, Public Health Sciences, and Obstetrics and Gynecology for the Miller School of Medicine (MSOM); and John K. and Judy H. Schulte Senior Endowed Chair, cancer research, MSOM. She was joined by panelists Stacy Monroe, assistant vice president compensation, performance, and recognition, University of Miami; Germaine Smith-Baugh, president and CEO at Urban League of Broward County; Amy Clement, professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science; and Maureen Fagan, chief nursing executive, University of Miami Health System.

“Relationships, mentorship, and empowerment were some of the major themes discussed during the panel,” said Karen Stimmell, interim chief human resources officer. “This annual event continues to grow because of the practical insight and tools shared that resonate with so many. It’s become a thriving space for connection and growth.” 

Throughout the event, key themes arose as panelists shared their experiences and approaches to success. The following includes some words of wisdom from the panelists, as well as feedback from those in attendance. Missed the event? View the full recording

Collaboration and team building.

Monroe: When you have a personal connection with other people, it’s easier to find common ground. You might have to mull over a decision together, but there’s a mutual understanding and respect with someone you have already connected with on a certain level. Create the connection and follow up with informal conversations.

Fagan: When building a team, I like to look for people who have a different point of view. I think it helps me look out for landmines and roadblocks. As the team leader, I make myself vulnerable to feedback, doing so enables me time to reflect on it. It’s a growth opportunity for me, and it also mirrors what I would want my team to do with each other. This is one of the key attributes I've used for 20 years, and it’s held true for me.  

Clement: On the topic of collaboration, we’re all sick of being in our little Zoom boxes. But it’s an incredible tool for collaboration. The way I use it in my team has allowed people to participate in ways they wouldn't normally have, including in the classroom. We always begin a Zoom call with the question, “How are you today?” This practice gives everyone a chance to reveal themselves, share, and build connections. The chat function can bring people in, especially in the classroom where it’s hard to call on people to speak out loud. Students, in particular, love to participate in the chat more than they would in the classroom informally.  

Relationships are the key to building careers.

Smith-Baugh: Because of the virtual environment, I have connected with people around the world that I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to meet. But, we must keep the conversation going, regardless of the vehicle. I have ramped up my in-person interactions by creating a “hit” list of individuals I have not connected with in a long time, or have not had the courage to connect with before the pandemic. Create your own list and use the resources available to keep building relationships. Get intentional with this exercise and embrace this opportunity.

Clement: This University is a family, a team. We end up in our silos but it all has to work together. Find the individuals who will mentor you and guide you through big changes and challenges. Develop good relationships with them and ask them to teach you the things that are new to you. 

Value feedback and lead by example.

Monroe: I have made a conscious effort to grow a network of trusted sources—people who will be candid and tell me the good, bad, and ugly. I have honest conversations with my team, and they know they can come to me and share their feedback. It’s feedback from all levels of the organization. I’ve been successful because I've used that feedback to continue improving. It's daily work.

Fagan: In this role I learned that I must make time for self-care, and I need to be a role model and lead by example. Before I get out of bed in the morning, I embrace gratitude through meditation and deep breathing. I meditate on what will probably happen during the day and how I can be of service. I put people in my day that I need to serve. At work, when I connect with my team and leadership staff, I try to be present in the moment and be a deep listener. We have to show people that it's OK to practice self-care.

Reflect on career growth.

Monroe: Have a voice. Embrace and focus on the present when preparing for the future. You don't know where your course is taking you. We all have thoughts of where we see ourselves, but life can derail you and where you see your path. Seek opportunities in your current seat.

Clement: Learn to say no in a way that doesn’t close doors. When asked to do something, especially a significant project that will take up your time, ask to sleep on it before making a decision. It really clarifies things and where that opportunity fits into your priorities and where you want to spend your time. Taking distance from the request lowers the emotional aspect that comes with making a big decision.

Fagan: As female leaders we have some reflection to do—ask yourself what are your greatest values? For me, one is integrity. When you understand what those are, they drive your career path and where/how it will take you there.

Leaders must look, listen, and learn.

Fagan: Leaders have to be courageous, and it looks different every day. Speaking up, remaining quiet—it’s a framework you learn. Successful leaders are courageous in that way. It’s a skill that is learned and I keep reading about it.

Monroe: A leader must be a good listener overall. They must learn to give their team members autonomy to do the job they were hired to do. It’s important to show team members trust and respect for what they bring to the table. Each employee is different and their needs will be different.

Smith-Baugh: Great leaders have a desire and willingness to want something more than what can be seen. Anyone can see what's in front of them, but leaders go beyond that with vision and innovation. You have to have a different lens when you are looking from a leadership perspective and boldly see beyond a current situation to what it could be. 

Attendees take away tips, gain insight and inspiration. 

“It was great to see how down to earth and personable the panelists were. I could relate and follow their suggestions and can easily apply their tips and strategies to my everyday life.” —Jennifer Agramonte-Garcia, risk management analyst-insurance, University wide risk management

"I learned a lot from these great women, especially when you can say NO without closing the door, politely." —Anne Auguste, senior central cancer registry specialist, Miller School of Medicine—Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

"I feel more empowered and connected. It was inspiring to hear such powerful and personal insights from four different women leaders.” —Monica Arango, manager, clinical trials unit, Miller School of Medicine

"This was a great forum to learn more about the background of strong influential leaders and how perseverance is a key to your growth and development." —Carlina Franguel, patient experience program manager, UHealth

"I thought the panel was very informative and had some great insight on how to handle different situations." —Mari Lovo, director, UMIT, cloud infrastructure services

"It was very inspiring and motivational!" —Erica Palacio, compensation manager, human resources, Miller School of Medicine

"We all have such similar shared experiences, it was nice to hear how they were able to overcome obstacles and insecurities that we all can relate to." —Kendal Payne, clinical research data specialist, Miller School of Medicine

"The panelists were open and honest. It was inspirational!" —Melissa Peerless, senior director, foundation relations, development and alumni relations

"The learning opportunity in this session was wonderful. It truly shows the U's commitment toward a culture of belonging." —Yanay Tabraue, senior executive assistant, investments and treasury

"Experiencing the humanity in these accomplished women made their comments relatable. The honesty and vulnerability from each of the panelists, accompanied with practical tips, was a gem. I felt as if we were sitting in a living room, all 200-something of us, sipping tea with good friends. It was soothing and inspiring." —Rosa Verdeja, director academic affairs, graduate programs in public health, Miller School of Medicine

As part of the University of Miami’s commitment to creating an inclusive workplace, faculty and staff members are invited to explore other diversity and inclusion resources. Visit hr.miami.edu/diversity.

Do you have a favorite quote from the panel? We’d love to hear from you, let us know at lifeattheu@miami.edu.