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GLAM 2019: Small steps, big changes

By Ruchi Kohar

There are a number of programs and initiatives committed to intensifying female participation in technology. Motivated by a personal experience that changed the course of her life, Renée La Londe, CEO and Founder of iTalent Digital, created GLAM to target girls early in life (the program is for girls 8-12) so they have time to get on the right path for science and technical tracks in high school.

The fourth-annual GLAM (Girls Leadership Academy Meetup) concluded the pathbreaking 2-day workshop on July 28, 2019. Almost 60 high-spirited girls came together from diverse backgrounds at the eBay headquarters in San Jose. An agenda carefully conceived by Renée, brilliantly executed by Margaret Sanchez and visually infused by Creative Director Patti Justice, ensured both fun and learning on topics ranging from computer coding and the 3Ps of business plans (product, passion and profit) to self-belief and the confidence to aim for the top.

Day one commenced with Ishita Majumdar’s opening keynote on her personal commitment to female leadership and how to dream big. Next, Cecilia Landeros showed the girls how to use vision boards to bring their dreams to life, while Microsoft trainers made coding fun through a computer programming workshop. This combination of creativity and technology helped the girls appreciate Suzanne Rice’s talk on creating and implementing a successful business strategy, followed by Kenzie Ferguson’s exhortation to impact the world in a positive way by being ambassadors of the ideal corporate future. Joyce Kim carried the baton forward by teaching girls the art of a well-crafted business plan. The GLAMians’ eagerness to implement this newly acquired knowledge could still be felt as Sue Barsamian delivered the day’s closing keynote on leveraging the power of a supportive personal network.

On day two, the sharpened confidence of our future leaders was kept ablaze by Jane Hesmondhalgh’s opening keynote, which emphasized that a true career calling should be rooted in passion. The girls then donned their super-power capes as Darcy Bell’s relatable lesson from Nemo, “just keep swimming,” blended beautifully with Jacqueline Guichelaar’s authentic style as she shared her personal perspective on leadership. Yulia Groza’s innovative talk supplemented by videos and demos educated the girls on how modern technology was shaping the future. Denise Lombard coached the girls on the power of teamwork and addressed their questions on the topic in a highly engaging manner.

The inspired learning from the female heavy hitters came full circle as the teenage prodigies Apoorva Panidapu and Samaira Mehta made it clear that age is no barrier to changing the world.

Chelsey Baker's magic mentoring transformed the culmination of learning into ten well-tuned business plan pitches. This year’s expert judging panel heard original business ideas on handling pollution, countering cyber-bullying, support networks for patients, and compassion for pets.

Day two’s closing keynote by Tiffany Stevenson supercharged the audience with her no-fear attitude while judges Sarah Chavarria, Jane Hesmondhalgh, Trina Limpert, Tamar Bercovici, Aparna Singhal and Parisa Naseralavi tabulated the business plan pitch scores.

The winning team’s business vision, “Change is difficult, but we begin by changing one person at a time,” resonated with the panel and tipped the score in its favor for a first-place win.

If you are determined, you can do it;

If you believe in yourself, you will lead;

You are the champion of your life;

You matter and your voice has weight.

GLAM drives home these powerful truths to every young participant, at every moment in the program, every year!

*Ruchi Kohar is Director, Business Operations at iTalent Digital and served as a volunteer at GLAM in San Jose this year.

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