Written by Sarah Duerr
In 2013, Elizabeth Bernay and Kara Noone, Financial Advisors at Morgan Stanley in Irvine, California, founded “Women Leading the Way in Orange County” (WLWOC). WLWOC is a highly selective group of well established professional women, representing a cross section of industries, who share their career insights and give guidance to the female leaders of tomorrow.
WLWOC continues to expand, and in 2015 will join Hope for the Warriors® and Vanguard University to work with military-connected women who are transitioning from active duty to civilian careers.
The inaugural program I attended included twenty outstanding professional women, representing twenty industries, sharing their career insights and advice with young women navigating their education choices and embarking on their professional journeys. The day started with a panel discussion on networking tips from four women with various backgrounds:
- Dr. Sandra Morgan, Director of the Global Center for Women and Justice, Vanguard University
- Amy Christiansen, Principal Investigator, AIG
- Scharrell Talley Jackson, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, Squar Milner
- Carmen Kaiser-Hofsaess, Catering Director, Summit House Restaurant
The panel spoke on how to begin the networking process, addressed the issues of transitioning, and how to get over the fear of entering a networking event alone. The panel was also very attentive to answering questions from the audience. The next presentation was on professional image. Speaker Sarah Noone, professional stylist, gave attendants tips and tricks to styling, saving money on quality pieces, interviewing suggestions.
Military to Civilian Transition speaker John Lutkenhouse, from Lucas Group, gave resume advice, as well as tips for job searching, securing the interview and interesting transition points to think about when getting out of the military (i.e. your employer will no longer pay for your housing, benefits, and sometimes, your leave time).
There were two amazing breakout sessions and answered any and all concerns the women had about transitioning, finding their “dream job”, and starting their own businesses. The day wrapped up with speaker, Rhonda Sciortino, author of Succeed Because of What You’ve Been Through. She spoke about the skill set that females possess coming out of the military, specifically the resiliency, toughness, and drive to succeed that all employers are seeking. Her “18 points” drove home her point of how much these amazing women had to offer.
After an incredibly successful first half of the program, I am looking forward to continued success in the years to follow. We all received such positive feedback from our female service members and veterans, specifically one who said, “This was literally the best veteran program I have EVER been a part of!” We are excited to see what the next sections inspire in our females who have served!
WLWOC will consist of three sections: two half day events on March 12 and May 14, 2015 (the first to be held at the Morgan Stanley office in Irvine) and a series of Open Houses to be hosted by the WLWOC professionals at their places of employment. The half day events will include key note speakers, break-out sessions and interactive exercises. The content will focus on networking confidence, career development tools, and building professional relationships. The Open Houses will provide military women on-sight exposure to local WLWOC employers and introductions to others within those businesses.