Author Archives: Ilene Fischer

WomenLEADinc selected as Verizon Powerful Answers Winner

We are excited to share that we have been selected as a Verizon Powerful Answers Award Winner for the Education category. This award will further our mission of closing the gender gap, advancing all as women leaders and by doing so we will make a global economic impact.

We will  find out what we will win on 1/8/14 at the Consumer Electronic show in Las vegas

Here is the announcement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJylKV5GXSQ

Playing by the rules, surely you jest!!!

In regards to  the article Playing by the rules article in the Globe magazine section on Sunday 11/4/13  I am appalled; as a women entrepreneur, the CEO of WomenLEAD, Inc, a 2013 Mass Challenge Finalist and one of 10 Education Category finalist in the Verizon Powerful Answers competition; a member of the Boston Club (14 years); a member of the She-E-O’s  and 85 Broads.

I agree with the premise that women entrepreneurs receive only a small percentage of VC money, but Fiona Murray does not have her numbers right and her suggestions of how to solve the problem are insulting to women.

Recent statistics that relate to women in the venture capital industry come from The Diana Project, Illuminate Ventures and several other organizations that aim to expose gender inequality. The data raises huge questions: Why do big-named venture firms appear to be discriminating against women? Are the firms “old boys clubs”? Do founders struggle to trust women on their boards? Are females passed up for venture jobs?

Homophily, or “the principle that people naturally favor others like them” and networking issues apply when male venture capitalists choose to invest in certain companies.

Female-founded companies make up only 10% of venture-funded startups, and only 3-5% of female-owned businesses receive venture money.

These numbers are even more confounding when it is considered that women-operated, venture-backed companies have 12% higher revenues than those of men.

The solutions to the problem that Fiona Murray proposes in this article are insulting to women and lack a systemic perspective of the problem.

Her solutions of Wear a uniform; Speak confidently and assertively; Network ; and Watch sports does not address the issue .

The root cause of the problem is that men have a bias about women entrepreneurs, they are not aware of their biases and the VC industry has been an “all boys club”.

I was recently at a meeting with Steve Case speaking (former AOL CEO and on Obama’s team for entrepreneurial policy). He addressed this issue at the meeting offering that crowd funding would help to level the playing field for women and in fact he suggested that the “all boy’s club” needs to shift to include women.

Another man at the meeting chimed in with “well after all women start up knitting stores and catering business so they do not need VC’s they can cover all of their costs with 20K”. I was amazed that this gentleman could not see how insulting his biases were, I was also embarrassed for him. This bias and way of viewing women entrepreneurs demonstrates the same thinking that has caused such a chasm in VC funding of women owned business.

Jules Pieri; CEO of the Grommet said this in her 9/1/13 post on Huffington post;

“Starting high stakes companies depends on having access to capital. Like sports, you can’t train, compete, or win without meaningful infrastructure. With only 4-9 percent of venture funding going to women, the damning lack of infrastructure is obvious.

The good news is women stand ready with legions of investment-worthy companies. The track record of female founders even shows superior investment returns compared to male founders.

Jules  Pieri’s suggestion is that the government role could be simple: remove the lucrative carried interest tax loophole from any venture firms that do not fund women’s businesses proportionate to men’s”.

This well thought out systemic perspective will surely get to the root cause of the issue and will mandate a solution. There are also Angel investing groups focused on supporting women owned companies like Golden Seeds, Astia and Pipeline Fellowship all committed to making an impact on this issue.

WomenLEAD, Inc is out to make a global impact by developing women as leaders with our online personal advisory board platform.  We are committed to having women entrepreneurs get the resources they need through Angel and VC funding so that they can turn their big dreams into reality.

Ilene Fischer  CEO WomenLEAD, Inc

Egyptian Women Entrepreneurs and Mass Challenge Women Finalist Teams Inspired Each Other

As an expression our commitment to advancing women as leaders, WomenLEAD Inc, hosted a group of a dozen Egyptian woman entrepreneurs last week at Mass Challenge offices. Thank you  to the Mass Challenge for co-sponsoring the event , and World Boston who coordinated; with the US State department to bring these women to Boston.. We had dynamic discussion, with four women owned Mass Challenge startups joining in, about many challenges and similarities of woman entrepreneurs here and in Egypt. Topics included how to find angel investors, what barriers we all face, including those  unique to women founders. WomenLEAD Inc.’s CEO and Founder Ilene Fischer demonstrated WomenLEAD’s innovative platform, and how building a Personal Advisory Board can create exponential growth for individuals and companies.

The Egyptian companies included hardware and software companies, sustainable energy companies, online translation services, marketing services and social impact products like a safe, cost effective water pump. Four Mass Challenge Finalist companies with women CEO’s/Founders shared their experiences as women.

egyptian women 2

entrepreneur. When asked what they will take away from their experience in the US, which included visiting three other start up  incubators around the country, one Egyptian woman stated “I have learned the world is open to me and that I have to help myself to help my community. I have more skills to learn and training to take to achieve my goals.

Another was so inspired by Mass Challenge and enjoyed meeting other female engineers. “Only 10% of women are engineers, and it feels so good to be around women here. When we have a problem we close our mind and say ‘there is no solution, but we just have to change the way we look at a solution and ask ourselves Why and Why not’…we should try it!”

After exchanging business cards around the table, all agreed: If women met around the world, there would be no war. All the women at the table both the Mass Challenge start up and the Egyptian Women Founders/ CEO’s were inspirational and determined to make a difference in the world; creating jobs and having their companies make a social impact.

The Mass Challenge and the Hubspot In Bound Marketing conference

A shot of expresso

Just in time! Right in the middle of the Mass Challenge Accelerator program, HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing 2013 conference took over the Back Bay this week – giving me, and 5,300 marketing and social media junkies a shot of espresso! This profession attracts the same overworked, sleep-deprived work-a-holics as those found in our start-up offices at Mass Challenge, and HubSpot kept us inspired with solutions to some of our biggest challenges. Inbound 2013 was a rigorous 4-day schedule of seminars, workshops and “Big Talk” speakers, sharing insights into how to capture audiences, generate leads and build trust with customers and in our marketplaces. And these big-time communicators are big-time networkers, including myself, and idea exchanges began at happy hours every night at the Hynes Convention Center, free parties at restaurants along Boylston Street, and even a rock band concert hosted by HubSpot.

Mass Challenge Finalists, including WomenLEAD, Inc., who are creating an innovative Personal Advisory Board™ platform to help companies advance women in their careers. As VP of Marketing at WomenLEADInc., it’s a race to get the strategies in place for website visitors, driving social media channels and posting thought-leader content to support our new solution. Videos explaining the new concepts are key and startup companies need to be searchable on the two most searched channels, YouTube and Google, among others.

Serving Up the Espresso:

For all of us here at Mass Challenge, we need this shot of espresso and dedicate the hours it will take to engage all of our clients, customers and investors. So here are some quick tactics to build new audiences, even within new industries. Break through the noise and find target market audiences, and then keep them engaged.

From Inbound 2013, being helpful is where it’s at! Create Content and Context!

Content: Content should be about your customer’s problem, the marketplace, and answering those popular questions they may ask on Google – not about your product. Be a useful resource, and build a website and social media presence that generates leads and positions you as the ‘go-to’ place for answers in your community. Wouldn’t you become the thought leader in the space if you offered a downloadable white paper explaining how you solve a problem, and win the confidence of both customers and investors? What if you were their trusted resource before their customer? That’s building trust.

Context: According to HubSpot, 60%-75% of your customers already have the information they need during the buying process online before they call you. For us, this can also mean people learning about your solution to partner, purchase or even invest. Context helps segment your audiences in the buyer process, those looking for preliminary information, and those that are seeking e-books and more in depth information. By offering downloadable white papers and e-books, and collect an email or other information in exchange, you discover what your website visitors are looking for, who they are, and what they need from you. Keeping in touch with them based on their needs can make it a much better experience for the customer cycle and closing the sale.

When the Espresso Wears Off – A Holistic Approach Wins:

Inbound 2013 captured an international audience of a 24/7 marketing profession, and executives not only announced some new products to make our jobs easier (check out HubSpot.com), they also gave us Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post as a keynote to discuss the importance of ‘recharging our batteries’ for better performance and innovation. Working alongside WomenLEAD Co-Founder, CEO and Game Changer, Ilene Fischer, recharging is just one of her strategies to maintain focus and her boundless energy every day.

I share this because Huffington’s message couldn’t be more important to those of us at Mass Challenge, with the white board filled amazing workshops and events to learn from, meetings with mentors and working toward higher goals each day. The race to the finish can leave us sleep deprived and sometimes overwhelmed – so take a break and even a 20-minute nap to recharge (Huffington Post has several napping rooms that are now booked around the clock.)

We at WomenLEAD Inc. are providing a platform for women to advance their careers by building their own Personal Advisory Board ™ Platform, disrupting mentorship as we know it. We are a part of Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lead In’ community, and I’m one of the many “leaning in” – truly putting my shoulder into everything I do – and I leave you with this advice from Huffington’s Inbound speech:

“We need to “Lean back to Lean in”, said Huffington, explaining you need to lean back to jump higher. When you think you are on your last leg, remember only with rest can we be effective in leadership and high productivity. So rest, wake up with espresso-like determination, and tell your story to the world every day, engaging your audiences, industries and investors!

I welcome your thoughts at kbuckley@WomenLEADInc.com; @womenlead; Kathleen Buckley, VP of Marketing, WomenLEADInc. Kathleen Buckley is a journalist, content creator, inbound marketer and website optimizer.

 

Jennifer Chayes: A woman who LEADS in technology

J ChayesWho says girls aren’t good at math? No one who’s met Jennifer Chayes, Managing Director and Distinguished Scientist at Microsoft Research New England and Microsoft Research New York City.

Chayes earned her Ph.D. in mathematical physics from Princeton and has taught at UCLA and the University of Washington, in addition to doing cutting-edge research on how the Internet works.

You read that right. Using her background in mathematical physics, Chayes models and analyzes how people use technological and social networks. Thanks to her research, she shares no less than 25 different patents, and has coauthored over 110 scientific papers. She was the first woman to lead one of Microsoft’s research labs.

But just as impressive as Chayes’ professional accomplishments is her commitment to supporting women in her field, for which she was awarded the 2012 Women of Vision Award for Leadership from the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology. (Check out her acceptance speech here.) When she started teaching at UCLA in the 1980s, she realized that many female students suffered from a lack of confidence in their abilities. She now works with DigiGirlz, a Microsoft initiative to encourage female high school students to consider careers in technology. Women make up 44 percent of the researchers at her lab in Cambridge. She is also an advisory board member of WomenLEAD, Inc.

Chayes believes that young women need role models and greater self-confidence, but she is also working to combat inaccurate stereotypes of science work that discourage many women from participating. As she told Mass High Tech in 2012,

“We lose most girls in middle school. They don’t necessarily realize that careers in math, science and technology can be really collaborative. They have these images of working in a solitary mode. [...] Any of these young girls can help to envision the future. They should realize there is tremendous creativity in this field. It’s not a solitary endeavor.”

We have no doubt that many young women now will someday say that Chayes and her work inspired them to pursue careers in technology, and we commend her commitment to improving work conditions for women in her own lab while continuing to shatter stereotypes about what women can do. Jennifer Chayes is a true trailblazer for women in technology, and we are pleased to recognize her as a Woman Who LEADS In Technology.

Jennifer-Chayes

To learn more about how the revolutionary WomenLEAD platform supports women’s development as leaders individually and within organizations, please check out our main page at www.womenleadinc.com and consider supporting our Indiegogo fundraising campaign. Follow us on Twitter @WomenLEADInc. 

 

 

 

 

Helen Drinan: A Woman Who LEADS in Academia


Helen Drinan - Photo
Few women can claim to have had a direct impact on the lives of thousands of young women, but Helen Drinan has done just that. As president of Simmons College in Boston, she is both a role model to her students and an active contributor to their academic and career success.

Like many successful women, Drinan has shown her talent for leadership in multiple fields. Before joining Simmons College, she was a leader in healthcare and business who hired, recognized, and empowered women employees. While serving as executive vice president of Bank Boston, she developed strategies for diversity and work-life policy that were recognized locally and nationally.

Drinan did not achieve her success overnight. Along the way, she faced some enormous challenges, including an abusive boss. But she fought back, approaching the problem with grace and fortitude. The incident set her up for success and gave her insights that would prove useful when she became a leader herself and could influence workplace policy.

As she wrote in the Huffington Post:

I believe to this day that standing up against this behavior, calling on executive leadership to take a support position, making a very tough decision (to end the matter without further conversation), and to continue working very hard, not only saved my career, but also helped me continue to ascend into leadership positions. [...]  In the end, clear goals, education, experience, and confidence will move the ranks of talented and motivated women to great heights.

For her personal professional achievements across fields, for her commitment to empowering women leaders in her own company, and for her willingness to share her own story with others, we recognize Helen Drinan as a Woman Who Leads in Academia and Inspires Others. 

Helen-Drinan

To learn more about how the revolutionary WomenLEAD platform supports women’s development as leaders individually and within organizations, please check out our main page at www.womenleadinc.com and consider supporting our Indiegogo fundraising campaign. Follow us on Twitter @WomenLEADInc. 

 

Deborah Dunsire: A Woman Who LEADS in Biotech

D DunsireDeborah Dunsire former CEO of Takada Millennium Pharmaceutical is a big name in biotech, but her leadership is an inspiration to women in any field!

Dunsire was born in South Africa, where she studied medicine. She started her career as a physician, but it wasn’t long before she turned her attention toward the development of potentially life-saving pharmaceutical drugs. Over the next 20 years, she became a leader in her field, earning the 2009 Woman of the Year Award from the Healthcare Business Association.

She has combined the science and business of healthcare to bring new drugs for cancer treatment to market. Dunsire’s early successes in pharmaceutical research, development and commercialization were so significant that her company, Sandoz, brought her from Johannesburg to Switzerland, to work at global headquarters.

From there, she was sent to New Jersey and soon took up the  management of the company’s portfolio of oncology drugs. When Sandoz merged with Ciba-Geigy to become Novartis, Dunsire was named senior vice president and put in charge of oncology for all of North America. She helped Novartis transform its approach and quadrupled the revenues of its oncology unit in just ten years.

In 2005, Dunsire became CEO of Millennium, a company of over 1000 employees that develops and markets new drugs for cancer treatment. She transformed Millennium from a small, promising drug-maker to a thriving biotech company that, in 2008, was worthy of a $8.8 billion acquisition by Takeda Pharmaceutical.

Under her leadership, Millennium was recognized by, Fortune (#20 on the Fortune 100 Best Places To Work list in 2012) , The Scientist and The Boston Globe (#1 among large companies in 2012) as one of the best places to work. During Dunsire’s tenure, the company’s executive team was between 40 and 60 percent female. She credits this diversity to a board that was sought out the right people, regardless of gender. “It was and is a very diverse company,” she told Pharmalive in 2006.

Her leadership lessons are useful for men and women alike. In a 2009 interview with the New York TimesDunsire advised leaders to let their employees make mistakes and learn from them without management’s interference.

Dunsire also has some specific advice for women who want to lead in biotech. When she was named one of FierceBiotech‘s Top 10 Women in Biotech, she told young women to

Be passionate about your work and the fact that through the biotech work we do we can change outcomes in human health. [...] Be optimistic but grounded–there will be many disappointments, but learn from failure and rise up and do it better.

That is great advice for any leader.

As part recent organizational changes, Deborah has decided to leave the Company at the end of her Takeda board term in June. She will be sorely missed in the biotech community and the small circle of women CEO’s at major global companies so we are looking forward to her next endeavor!  Deborah Dunsire is a powerful example of a Woman Who Leads in Biotech and we are proud to recognize her.

Deborah-Dunsire

To learn more about how the revolutionary WomenLEAD platform supports women’s development as leaders individually and within organizations, please check out our main page at www.womenleadinc.com and consider supporting our Indiegogo fundraising campaign. Follow us on Twitter @WomenLEADInc. 

 

Deborah Dean: A Woman Who LEADS in Corporate Law

Debbie-DeanDeborah Dean has a unique name for her personal advisory board: The COTTON CLUB – from COT, or Circle of Trust.

On her journey from corporate attorney to corporate vice president, the support of Dean’s personal advisors made a huge difference.  Even now that she is a vice president at leading global software firm Dassault Systemes, she still looks to this trusted group of women for advice.

“They have served as a sounding board to help me crystallize my goals and understand the political landscape that exists in every company, as advisors to help me strategize as to how to approach and overcome challenges, and as a cheering squad to bolster my self-confidence,” Dean says.

Not only has Dean achieved tremendous career success for herself, she has become a champion for others. She leads an initiative to support women inside Dassault, helping them achieve personal and professional growth. That initiative also supports technical education for three girls in Rwanda, which she hopes will change their lives.

Since 2012, Dean has served on the board of Women in the Enterprise of Science and Technology (WEST) and recently co-authored an article on women’s advancement in the workplace through the Center for Women in Business at Bentley University.

Dean encourages younger women to set up their own personal advisory boards to help them achieve career success. “The business world is vast, with many twists and turns, and it is important to draw on the wisdom and views of others who are either in the same working world or who have gone there before,” she says. “Others have trailblazed – There is no need to keep blazing the same trail. Learn from those who have gone before.”

For the impact she continues to have on women in her company, in her field, and all over the world, WomenLEAD is proud to recognize Deborah Dean as a woman who leads.

Debbie-Dean

To learn more about how the revolutionary personal advisory board platform from WomenLEAD supports women’s development as leaders, please check out our main page at www.womenleadinc.com and consider supporting our Indiegogo fundraising campaign. Follow us on Twitter @WomenLEADInc. 

Ursula Burns: A Woman Who LEADS in Engineering and F500 CEO

Ursula-Burnsv2How do you get from the projects to the top of a Fortune 500 company? Xerox CEO Ursula Burns will tell you: Speak your mind. Be fearless. And when your dreams are big, chase them.You might have seen Burns in the recent Makers documentary, where she talks about her path to success, or heard about her remarks at the 2013 Catalyst Awards Conference, or read her profile in Fast Company magazine.

Her story is an inspiration to women and men who aspire to lead.Burns got her start at Xerox as a summer intern while she was still a student of mechanical engineering at NY Polytechnic. Since then, she has moved all the way up the ranks, helping to turn her company’s financial performance around. Now, she is pushing Xerox to evolve from a printing equipment manufacturer to a leader in the digital age.This forward-leaning approach has earned Burns many kinds of accolades, from a profile in Fast Company to opportunities to lead the White House’s Export Council.

But it’s her approach to the workplace that may be most enlightening for women. Under Burns’ leadership, Xerox employees are encouraged to be more outspoken about the things they know best.Earlier this year, she told the Wall Street Journal that balance should be achieved through the span of a lifetime, not a week, day or month, and sometimes that may mean putting personal needs ahead of career and family. And sometimes it may mean the opposite.

She also urges young women to stay encouraged, even when they feel like they don’t fit in, and to be unafraid to ask for help. As she wrote in her personal story for Lean In,

Dreams do come true, but not without the help of others, a good education, a strong work ethic and the courage to lean in.

For not only demonstrating courage in her own career, but encouraging other women to do the same, WomenLEADInc recognizes Ursula Burns as a Women Who Leads in Engineering and as a F500 CEO . 

Ursula-Burns

 

To learn more about how the revolutionary WomenLEAD platform supports women’s development as leaders individually and within organizations, please check out our main page at www.womenleadinc.com and consider supporting our Indiegogo fundraising campaign. Follow us on Twitter @WomenLEADInc. 

Dee Dee MyersIt’s hard to confine Dee Dee Myers to just one field. She has proven herself as a leader in politics, serving as press secretary to President Bill Clinton both on his campaign and in the White House. She is a managing director at the communications firm The Glover Park Group. She is also a writer and commentator; her work has appeared in numerous media outlets, and she has been an editor at Vanity Fair for almost two decades. She served as a consultant on the television series The West Wing.

And, since the publication of her best-selling 2008 book, Why Women Should Rule the World, Myers has become known as an outspoken champion of women’s leadership.

Myers has been close to the spotlight for much of her career. She is familiar with the unique pressures women face when subjected to public scrutiny. As a successful young woman in the White House, she stood out as much for her gender as for her talent, and it often held her back. When she asked her boss, Leon Panetta, for a raise, he told her that she didn’t deserve one as much as a man with a family to support. Her job at the White House was high profile, but she was stripped of the authority given her male colleagues.

Myers chose to speak up about these issues in her book, even though women with her profile rarely do so. In a 2008 interview with TIME magazine, she pointed out that, for all the momentum of the women’s movement, there are still plenty of challenges ahead.

Even though she has achieved great personal success, Myers continues to advocate for women as leaders. When asked whether women would really want to rule a world so full of challenges, she replied:

I think that women know that by bringing more women into all avenues of public life, we can solve some of those problems. I don’t think women hold all the answers, but with their skills, their strengths, we can get to a better place.

She is certainly doing her part. For that reason, WomenLEADInc is proud to recognize Dee Dee Myers as a Women Who Leads in Media and Politics.

Dee-Dee-Myers

To learn more about how the revolutionary WomenLEAD platform supports women’s development as leaders individually and within organizations, please check out our main page at www.womenleadinc.com and consider supporting our Indiegogo fundraising campaign. Follow us on Twitter @WomenLEADInc.