The three-day learning event drew more than 1,200 men and women from 120+ companies to discuss this year’s theme, “Thriving Together.” The conference is the largest women’s leadership event for the retail, consumer products and services industry. Encouraging employee participation in NEW is one way Clorox supports female leaders and their development.
Here, we catch up with two attendees, Samantha Scholtz, Sales Planning Business Manager, and Lori Lennon, Director of Sales, to learn what they gained from the conference and the leadership lessons they’re bringing back to Clorox.
What about the NEW conference stood out for you?
Samantha: I really enjoyed networking with other women in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry. The NEW conference offered opportunities to learn in breakout sessions, and also by talking with other women who encountered similar barriers in their work, like how to get a seat at the table. I walked away with improved skills, and also with new friends in the industry.
Let’s talk about continuous learning, a theme at the conference. How do you make time for it yourself and also for the people you manage?
Lori: We all need to continue learning to stay challenged and fulfilled. NEW is a great organization that my team is able to leverage. Making time for it is hard, but it comes down to understanding what drives and fulfills you and then carving out time for those things. Put time to learn on your calendar and block it! Let the small things fill in around it.
Samantha: I try to make time for continuous learning every day at work. Daily, it’s keeping up on industry news, of which there’s no shortage lately! Weekly or monthly, I try to take time to learn more about a specific trend that could impact the industry, such as Artificial Intelligence or the consumer migration to online shopping. Understanding the “why” behind our consumers’ behaviors and needs gives me a holistic view of my role in driving growth for Clorox.
A keynote sessions with Katherine Wintsch addressed “The Mom Complex.” As a working mother, did you learn anything new or helpful?
Lori: So much of what she said resonated with the daily challenges I, and most of the working moms I know, face. We’re trying to be our best at everything — best mom, best wife, best worker, best friend, etc. We work really hard to keep all the balls in the air — managing complex work schedules and challenges, managing family and children’s schedules while keeping an organized household (cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc). It can be overwhelming at times.
A few key takeaways from this session for me were:
- Saying “no” is hard, so know your boundaries and communicate them.
- Create time for yourself. If you say “yes” to yourself and block off time for something that fulfills you — a daily run or 30 minute meditation session — everything else will fall into place around it.
- Figure out what drives you and what fulfills you.
- Finally, she spoke about the “voice” inside your head — you know the one that’s super critical of everything you do, wear, say? She coached us on how to stay in the present, to acknowledge the voice, and then “direct it toward a friend.” Women can be very critical of themselves but offer their friends a much softer point of view. We need to get out of our own heads and give ourselves a break and focus on the positive.
Some of the short-term changes I’ve made have been setting better boundaries and finding the “me” time that I tend to ignore in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
In another session, Grace Killea spoke of the importance of having a tribe. Do you have a tribe?
Samantha: My “tribe” is a mix of work friends and friends outside of work. Having friends who are a part of my “tribe” at work not only makes coming to work more fun, it also means I have a group of people who support me in good times and bad. They’re my biggest supporters and encourage me to be my best self.
How about mentors? Have you benefitted from mentorship, either formal or informal?
Lori: Mentorship is a critical component to a successful and rewarding career. It can help provide a grounding in the company culture, expectations and skills for success, insight into your current role as well as career growth, a voice of wisdom — someone to run challenges and opportunities by. Lastly, a mentor gives you a safe place to turn to if you just need someone to listen.
A conference like NEW provides something similar — a forum where women can meet other women, learn through diverse cultures and backgrounds, get advice, join groups and feel included.
Samantha: Mentorship has been so important in my career. There’s a lot of pressure to have a formal mentor, but I’ve found I learn so much from my informal mentors. To me, mentoring and having a mentor is about networking and connecting what you do well with those who need to expand their skill set — and vice versa. Attending the NEW conference enabled me to both: expand my network and develop relationships with potential mentors in the industry.