The event brought together professionals and their young relatives, friends, and mentees for a discussion aimed to inspire the next generation of women leaders
On Thursday, October 10, more than 180 guests attended Mintz’s second annual “She’s the Boss — An Event to Inspire Future Female Leaders” in Boston, which featured an inspirational panel discussion on societal pressures, finding the right career path, discovering one’s true passions, redefining failure as a learning experience, and achieving a work-life balance, among other topics.
The event brought together professionals and their young relatives, friends, and mentees for a discussion aimed to inspire the next generation of women leaders. This year’s panelists included successful women in hospitality, science, journalism, public policy, and the law:
- Tiffani Faison, Chef and Owner of Sweet Cheeks Q, Tiger Mama, Fool’s Errand, and Orfano
- Rebecca Lee, Member / Chair, Real Estate Development Practice, Mintz (moderator)
- Shirley Leung, Business Columnist & Associate Editor, Boston Globe
- Nergis Mavalvala, Professor of Astrophysics & Associate Department Head of Physics, MIT
- Elsie M. Taveras, MD, MPH, Chief of the Division of General Pediatrics & Executive Director of the Kraft Center for Community Health
Questions posed by the moderator of the panel, Mintz Member and Chair of the Real Estate Development Practice Rebecca Lee, ranged from “Are you who you thought you would be as a teenager?” to “Can you tell us about a time you didn’t succeed, but you found a silver lining?” Despite coming from many different industry sectors and backgrounds, panelists found common ground on topics like coping with pressure from family, friends, bosses, and colleagues, challenging bad advice, and helping other women rise through the ranks of their respective professions.
Renowned chef and two-time finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s award for Best Chef: Northeast Tiffany Faison kicked off the panel with an impassioned speech aimed at all the young people in the room, specifically those under the age of 21. She discussed experiences of perceived failure, rejection, and self-doubt throughout her early life and career, and added, “All of those moments are ammunition that drives you in your life, to live the best life you possibly can.”
Several panelists touched on their diverse backgrounds and their families’ influence on their respective career trajectories. Dr. Elsie Taveras, a pediatrician and national leader in community health, discussed her experience growing up in a family of immigrants and the pressure of high expectations from a young age, despite not having prominent role models. “I grew up in a family and in a community where I didn’t see people like myself in the professions that I was interested in,” she said. “It’s exciting to see so many young faces in the room tonight, as that reality is changing. On this panel, in particular, there is representation from many different industry sectors, and more importantly, representation of women in leadership positions.”
Boston Globe columnist Shirley Leung added that as an Asian-American, she faced pressure from her family to switch careers, despite propelling herself to The Wall Street Journal at age 25—an impressive journalistic accomplishment. She enrolled in an MBA program but ultimately dropped out because she did not feel it was right for her to leave the field of journalism. “Now in my career, I try to create more options wherever I can—I am a print journalist, but I have expanded to work in radio, TV, and other multiplatform media,” she said.
Panelists also commented on some of the worst advice they had received over the course of their careers. Pakistani-American astrophysicist Nergis Mavalvala’s response, in particular, spoke to societal pressures discouraging a work-life balance. “Early in my career and training, the voices of society seemed to tell me that I couldn’t be a good scientist unless it was the only thing I did, and the work [should be] all-consuming,” she said.
Dr. Taveras shared that the worst advice she had ever received was that she had to choose between wanting leadership positions and advancing in those leadership positions versus having a family. “I think that’s terrible advice and an attempt to temper your ambition. What no one ever tells you, is that when you’re in a leadership position, there’s a lot more flexibility,” she said.
Following the panel, during the Q&A session, a young audience member asked the panelists how they found work-life balance throughout their lives. Panelists unanimously suggested that the key to achieving this balance was to “be the boss.” They also reiterated the importance of family, whatever that word might mean to members of the audience, and finding joy outside of the workplace.
Ambition was another common thread among responses throughout the night. When asked about the personal qualities that contributed the most to their success, panelists all encouraged young people to find their passion and be ambitious. “We are continuously told that as women we cannot be ambitious—don’t give in to that,” Ms. Mavalvala said.
In fact, panelists agreed that ambition is critical to reaching top ranks in any profession or industry. They also emphasized the importance of lifting other women up, instead of competing against them. “As a woman in a leadership role in a profession where women are so underrepresented, I look out a great deal for the women coming through the ranks,” Ms. Mavalvala said.
Mintz’s annual “She’s the Boss” event launched last year in New York City. The event is a reflection of Mintz’s deep commitment to promoting full inclusion of minority, women and LGBTQ attorneys within the firm and in the legal profession. Learn more about our diversity and inclusion efforts here.
For more information about Mintz, please visit www.mintz.com.