By BEN SANCHEZ
Business Journal Writer
STOCKTON — Hundreds turned out to hear about the positive impacts that women are having in their community.
On Sept. 12, University of the Pacific’s Alex G. Spanos Center was home to the third annual Advancing Women’s Leadership forum, with a keynote address given by Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg.
The forum showcased women’s leadership in several professional fields that encourage and motivate young women to create a lasting, positive impact in the places where they live and work.
Similar themes echoed from each speaker to be resilient, knowing it is ok to fail and never give up on a dream. Each speaker shared unique, personal stories of the challenges they faced throughout their careers.
Jade Simmons, concert pianist and opening speaker for the event, played an energetic performance, as she interweaved classical music with hip-hop beats, and shared her personal story.
Simmons expressed that her unique blend of music separated herself from other concert artists throughout her career. She suggested she made a difference by integrating storytelling between music.
“I moved beyond impressing (listeners) to impacting them,” Simmons said. Once she embraced certain aspects of herself and bringing forth “your whole self to others even if they don’t understand it,” she found purpose in her art form. By discovering her purpose, Simmons said she believes that purpose is “not the thing you do, but the thing that happens to others when you do what you do.”
Bank of America’s California President Janet Lamkin, a Stockton native, was the second guest speaker for Advancing Women’s Leadership. She shared her experience of humility, and how she expanded her world through travel.
Lamkin said that people should not be afraid to ask for what they want when approaching a job opportunity — and to take risks.
“Well thought-out risks can lead you to new opportunities. Be engaging and listen to people. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice when you need it,” Lamkin said. She said by cultivating these relationships with peers, co-workers and leaders, people can gain perspective from others who are more experienced in their career.
Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, was the keynote speaker for the event. Sandberg emphasized society treats boys and girls differently, using examples of how girls are told they are “too bossy.” Supporting these young women to dream and providing a perspective to break the barriers set in place will inspire their own personal growth.
“That little girl’s not bossy, that little girl has executive leadership skills,” Sandberg said. She offered advice to young women to be more involved in support groups throughout school. Joining a women’s group or “Lean In Circle” can help women learn, grow and support one another to achieve greater goals.
In closing, as Sandberg touched on the loss of her husband, she suggested people should focus on making short-term goals in their life. Long-term plans are unrealistic and we cannot plan for everything that happens in life, she said. Focusing on a year or 18-month plan that is doable will help a person maintain realistic goals to move forward with a career.
“We plan too much. We have to stop connecting the dots. You need to learn, then contribute and let the rest unfold,” Sandberg said.