Business

Powerful women unite at Plano Profile’s 17th annual Women in Business Summit

Women in Business Summit, Plano Profile, Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park Hotel

Jasmin Brand on stage at Plano Profile’s 17th annual Women in Business Summit. Photography by Alyssa Vincent and Stephanie Tann

Plano Profile’s 17th annual Women in Business Summit brought together over 400 of the most respected women from global enterprises, non-profits, government and SMB businesses of the North Texas community in celebration of incredible female leaders: women leading change, promoting diversity and delivering results.

Hosted at the Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park Hotel, Women in Business drew in 400 women and men from all over Collin County. The event was sponsored by LegacyTexas Bank, Toyota and the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism and emceed by Jasmin Brand, CEO of Launch DFW and the North Texas Director of Brazen Global.

Read more: Serial entrepreneur Jasmin Brand on equality and empowerment  

Maxie McCoy, You're Not Lost, author, Plano Profile, women in business summit

“Ask yourself: What’s the absolute smallest thing I can do to put this synergy into action today?” — Maxie McCoy, author and motivational speaker

“The thing that bridges all of our dreams and the reality that we’re living is action,” said Maxie McCoy, the first speaker to take the stage. “Ask yourself: What’s the absolute smallest thing I can do to put this synergy into action today?” Maxie, a motivational speaker who just published her first book, You’re Not Lost: An Inspired Action Plan for Finding Your Own Way, opened the event by encouraging attendees to “be the best of you, not the least of it,” and gave tangible steps to do exactly that. Her key advice was: “Do something, do something small. When you do, you’ll believe in yourself a little bit more and that will allow you to do something a little bigger … and then before you know it you’re taking really big steps and making really big change.”

Read more: Maxie McCoy on the potential of female leadership

Lauren Przybyl, Fox 4 Good Day anchor, plano profile, women in business summit

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” — Lauren Przybyl, Fox 4 Good Day Anchor

A panel discussion addressing diversity and inclusion was moderated by Fox 4 Good Day Anchor, Lauren Przybyl, who, having been dressed by Neiman Marcus Willow Bend, related a great piece of advice from her mother: “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

Lauren credits this piece of advice for her ensuing success as a news anchor: “My very first job in TV news, I was just a writer, but I showed up dressed like a news anchor because that’s what I wanted to be. Sure enough within six months we had some breaking news and they wound up putting me on the air.” 

Myrna Estrada, Vice President and Regional General Manager for Safeco Insurance; Dana Beckman, Director of Corporate Affairs at Alliance Data; Praveena Nathawat, Talent Management and Diversity at Ericsson; and Stephanie Jeffery, Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion at Capital One., plano profile magazine, women in business summit

Lauren Przybyl, Fox 4 Good Day Anchor; Stephanie Jeffery, Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion at Capital One; Myrna Estrada, Vice President and Regional General Manager for Safeco Insurance; Dana Beckman, Director of Corporate Affairs at Alliance Data; and Praveena Nathawat, Talent Management and Diversity at Ericsson

“If we challenge ourselves to dream big then we will achieve bigger things.” — Stephanie Jeffery, Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion at Capital One

On the panel was Myrna Estrada, Vice President and Regional General Manager for Safeco Insurance; Dana Beckman, Director of Corporate Affairs at Alliance Data; Praveena Nathawat, Talent Management and Diversity at Ericsson; and Stephanie Jeffery, Vice President, Diversity & Inclusion at Capital One.

“There are more CEOs of Fortune 500 companies named John than there are women,” said Stephanie. “I heard a story, an anecdote about fleas. Scientists put some fleas in the jar and they jumped out. Then, the scientists put a lid on the jar and the fleas trained themselves to jump just shy of the lid. When the lid was removed, the fleas did not jump out. We often think of ourselves in this way but if we challenge ourselves to dream big then we will achieve bigger things—we can make it to the C-suite, we can be the CEO. We need to have big goals, but we need to just take the next step.”

Much of the discussion centered around the need for women to support each other—and to seek the support of men.

“We have to encourage each other,” said Stephanie. “If you have achieved some level of success in your career then leave the ladder down and help someone else. Also, the help of male allies is invaluable.” 

“I’ve had some great men who were very supportive, very nurturing,” said Dana. “I don’t think we should overlook the contribution of men in helping to create those pathways.”

Read more: Dana Beckman talks women in business

Myrna agreed, “If you’re finding it challenging to get heard, I think it’s important to reach out to a male colleague and ask for help.”

Praveena shared some interesting thoughts on leadership. “If you really think about good leadership today, it’s all about empathy, working collaboratively, being a great listener … being an inspiring leader. Women are very well-positioned for this. Women tend to be better team workers, they’re more collaborative, and are able to look at problems on a much larger scale. These are great qualities to have in corporate America today. A dialogue about what good leadership looks like needs to start by recognizing that men and women can both be good leaders, leadership just looks different for different people.”

Read more: Praveena Nathawat shares some advice

Merrilee Kick, BuzzBallz, southern champion, plano profile, women in business summit

“Be proud of yourself, because if you’re proud of yourself that’s how everybody else becomes proud of you.” — Merrilee Kick, CEO/Founder of BuzzBallz/Southern Champion

The final speaker of the day was Merrilee Kick, CEO/Founder of BuzzBallz/Southern Champion and entrepreneur at the helm of one of the largest women-owned distilleries in the country. Merrilee gave some no-nonsense advice on all aspects of business. On finding the right talent: “The most important thing to know about millennials is that they care about a cause; your business has to stand for something.” Fostering the right company culture: “If they’re not part of your culture, they’re going to leave because they’re not happy.” And harnessing your own talent: “Be proud of yourself, because if you’re proud of yourself that’s how everybody else becomes proud of you.”

Myrna Estrada, Plano Profile, Women in Business Summit

Myrna Estrada (right) with Veronica Burns

“There’s no way you’re going to succeed unless you’re inspiring your employees.” — Myrna Estrada, Vice President and Regional General Manager for Safeco Insurance

The summit ended with a workshop led by Myrna Estrada which drew on her experience in corporate America and how she climbed the corporate ladder without the benefit of a college degree. Myrna’s advice included tips on becoming the person you want to be:  When people give you feedback—ask questions. Make sure it’s who you want to be and the brand you want to put out there.” And also included leadership philosophy: “There’s no way you’re going to succeed unless you’re inspiring your employees. And if you don’t know if you are, you need to ask the question.” 

Read more: How Myrna Estrada climbed the corporate ladder without a college degree

Amid wine, mimosas, connections and selfies, the key takeaway from the summit can be summarized in the words of Stephanie Jeffery: “If we challenge ourselves to dream big then we will achieve bigger things.” Ladies, it’s time to play a bigger game.

Rebecca Silvestri
Executive Editor
Rebecca Silvestri is the executive editor at Plano Profile. She is also the wife of Philip Silvestri, Publisher of Plano Profile.

In a previous life, Rebecca was a math teacher (in London and the Dominican Republic).

Philip and Rebecca have a little boy named Theo and are expecting a baby girl this July.

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