Our Impact

The challenge of rising to the challenge: key takeaways from our 2020 Women's Leadership Program

Posted by Nicole Carelli on August 24, 2020

At the Chamber’s Women’s Leadership Program 2020 Graduation, Nicole Carelli, Head of National Conferences at BNY Mellon Wealth Management, was selected to speak on behalf of her 2020 Women’s Leadership Program cohort on what the program meant to her, and her takeaways to make Greater Boston the best place for women to work. We're currently recruiting for the 2020-2021 class of Women Leaders - nominate a leader you know TODAY!

If you attended our last in-person workshop, you may remember that I raised my hand to say I enjoyed public speaking. Well, I guess that came back to bite me and I think I have all of you to blame. I thought about reusing my speech from that workshop, but outing myself as a Yankees fan to a few hundred Bostonians over Zoom somehow seemed more terrifying than just delivering a brand new speech. 

I was nervous to start the Women’s Leadership Program last fall. I had a full plate at work and I knew my travel schedule would make me miss a few programs right from the beginning. And, if I’m being honest. I had a bit of imposter syndrome. I wondered if my background and professional experience was worthy of being in the program. Thanks to the support of my manager Kristina, an alumna of the Women’s Leadership Program herself, I was given the encouragement and flexibility I needed to experience the course and its content to the fullest.

While I expected that the course content would be worthwhile, what I did not expect was how valuable developing a connection with my peer group would be. Navigating this program with a group of strangers was intimidating for me but my group found a supportive rhythm that kept us connected. We challenged each other in our thinking, we discussed the ups and downs of our jobs, we questioned future career moves, we weren’t afraid to talk politics, and we encouraged each other to grow.

Chelsea, Jenny, Morgan, and Valerie, your friendship and mentorship has been invaluable to me. I look forward to continuing our group texts, and when the time is right, resuming our after-work get togethers and weekend brunches. 

See, the Women’s Leadership Program gave our peer group a shared language, a common bond. But it also gave us the flexibility to foster our personal and professional growth outside the formal sessions, and to create an experience that was uniquely ours. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity.

As we look out to the next chapters of our personal and professional lives, there is a lot of uncertainty ahead. We are at a societal crossroads and the challenges many of us face feel crushing and overwhelming. And while some of us feel we have reached our capacity, I know that we as women, as a group, as a network will continue to have more to give. Because it is during these times of unrest and injustice when we realize that our capacity to meet these challenges may, in fact, be limitless. The fight for justice and equality will be demanding but I cannot think of a better group of women who will rise to the challenge.

Thank you. Be safe. Be healthy. Wear a mask and remember to vote.