When Dima Ghawi moved to Baton Rouge about three years ago while working for IBM, she found there were no groups dedicated to women in business or women in leadership.
After consulting with other women who were interested in the concept, the inaugural Women’s Leadership Conference was born. The leadership conference will take place Nov. 16 as part of the Baton Rouge Entrepreneurship Week lineup.
The daylong conference will feature panel discussions for women in different phases of their career, breakout sessions on a multitude of topics ranging from growing self-confidence and self-worth to building a brand, and video teleconferences with women from other parts of the world.
“We understand the challenges that we all face and the more we support each other, the more successful we will be,” says Ghawi, who left IBM to found Breaking Vases, where she offers professional speaking in risk taking, self-discovery, and empowerment topics.
The event, held at the Cook Conference Center, has about 180 available spots for participants, but Ghawi says that may not be enough for all the women interested in attending. She recently spoke to One Acadiana, Acadiana’s regional Chamber of Commerce similar to the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, and during the talk, she mentioned the conference. The One Acadiana officials talked about renting a bus and sending a large group to the conference.
“The more I’m talking about it, so many people are interested in it,” Ghawi says.
The topics for the breakout sessions will focus on three themes: inwards, outwards and onwards. Ghawi says the sessions focusing inwards will be on how women can grow their self-confidence and anything that may inhibit them from being leaders. The outwards sessions will focus on communication skills, branding and how women in business are perceived. The onwards sessions will focus on planning for the future, helping the community and helping other women succeed.
“We wanted to address the three main areas that may help a woman advance in leadership,” Ghawi says.
Networking sessions will incorporate fun activities and ideas to help the attendees get to know each other and build relationships.
LSU’s Leadership Development Institute and College of Human Sciences and Education are also involved in developing the event. Other organizers include Kristie Galy, director of the College of Human Sciences and Education’s Office of Sponsored Research; Rachel Henry, director of Professional Education and Special Events in the College of Human Sciences and Education; and Tracey Rizzuto, associate director for the School of Human Resource Education and Workforce Development in the LSU College of Human Sciences and Education.