Empowering and electrifying: Insights from the 2023 NAED Women in Industry Forum


July 28, 2023By Mary Bennett, Account Director - Distribution Industry

Reflecting on the recent 2023 NAED Women in Industry Forum (WII), I can't help but feel a surge of energy that has left a lasting impact on me. WII provides an environment for female professionals within electrical distribution to take steps toward advancing their careers by leveraging educational opportunities. Unlike other industry events primarily focusing on informative presentations, WII engaged attendees on multiple levels, leaving us informed and inspired to act based on our acquired knowledge.

Right from the start, the conference organizers orchestrated a captivating atmosphere by hosting an interactive happy hour. Attendees were provided with bingo cards, encouraging us to connect with others who matched the information on our cards. This icebreaker activity fostered a sense of camaraderie among participants and set the tone for the rest of the conference.

The keynote speakers were masters at engaging the audience. They encouraged attendees to discuss and share insights with those seated at their tables throughout their presentations. This interactive approach ensured that the information delivered was not only received but also actively processed and internalized. I left the keynote sessions with a tangible list of topics to research after returning home and resumed work at the office. It was refreshing to feel a sense of motivation and eagerness to apply the newly acquired knowledge.

This wasn't my first WII experience; I've attended for six consecutive years, and each time, the conference has exceeded my expectations. However, I am uncertain how the organizing committee will surpass this year's outstanding event. The theme, "Electrify You," emphasized the significance of embracing electrifying experiences within our careers, networks, and potential. It was a unifying and powerful concept that resonated with attendees.

Among the sessions, one of my favorites was delivered by Shelley Paxton, titled "Where Soul Meets Success." Despite being in the later stages of my career with 30 years of experience, Shelley's talk prompted me to reflect on whether I was success-FULL or success-EMPTY. She challenged me to evaluate whether I was going through the motions or pursuing activities that truly brought me joy. Defining success on my own terms and intentionally striving for it became paramount. Shelley's statement that "success should be energizing and not exhausting" struck a chord with me, making me realize the importance of finding fulfillment in what I do.

Listening to Annette Clayton, the CEO of Schneider Electric, speak openly about her life experiences was a privilege I had not previously encountered. Her journey served as a tremendous inspiration. Two statements she made mainly stood out: "Women are not your competition but your allies" and "Always be learning." These words resonated deeply, emphasizing the significance of supporting one another personally and professionally while continuously seeking growth through learning.

Alex Dorr, the VP of People Revolution, led another session that left a lasting impression. He shed light on the human condition and our instinctual response of fight or flight when faced with change. This resonated strongly with me, considering my position in technology, where constant change is a given. Alex's observations highlighted the importance of effectively communicating the reasons behind implementing new technology and the benefits it brings to employees. Companies often falter in this aspect, and witnessing the consequences firsthand, I found his insights invaluable.

Overall, the conference left me invigorated and motivated to bring about positive change in my career and beyond. WII's unique approach of engaging attendees in every aspect and the thought-provoking and inspirational sessions made it an exceptional experience. I eagerly look forward to future editions of WII and the opportunities they will bring for personal and professional growth.

Infor is proud to be an NAED Preferred Provider in the Enterprise Resource Planning category. To learn more about how Infor serves the electrical industry and NAED members in particular, visit https://www.naed.org/preferred-provider-directory-infor-erp.


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