Female Business Leaders Share Advice with CSULB Students on International Women’s Day • Long Beach Post

From left to right: panelists Nicole Cadreau, Mary Miller, Deanne Mendoza, Elizabeth Jones and Roxana Carrillo. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.

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It was around this time last year that Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) student and Society of Women in Business member Michelle Matos had an idea to create an inspiring event around International Women’s Day.

“I had a position on the board of the Society of Women in Business but I was the director of fundraising at the time so it wasn’t really in my job role to do anything like that,” said Matos, who’s a marketing major with a minor in public relations. “But once I got the position as outreach chair I knew I wanted to do something big for International Women’s Day because I love this day.”

Matos said she wanted to organize an event that would help students with their professional development and provide advice to women regarding their future careers.

Partnering up with the Society of Women Engineers and the International Business Association, the Society of Women in Business hosted the first annual International Women’s Day Conference Thursday night.

During the panel “Being a Female Leader—Challenges, Opportunities, & Outlook”, students were given advice from five women in different chapters of their careers and from diverse backgrounds.

Here are the top takeaways from each panelist:


Nicole Cadreau, planner/engineer at Southern California Edison

“Understand the bigger picture. You have a specific job and a specific task and it’s really easy to get siloed and focus on that one thing you’re doing but in an organization you need to understand how your work affects other people’s work and how other people’s work affects your work. Understanding how you impact things can make a world of difference. Understand company goals.”

“Surround yourself with people who inspire you and encourage you and are interested in your personal and professional development. The power of being surrounded by people who are passionate about what they do and seeing the quality in their work can completely shift your perspective and it makes going to work fun and passionate and exciting.”


Mary Miller, retired chief financial officer of Front Porch

“Never underestimate the importance of networking and connections. My advice is choose the company, not the job. The company is much more important than the immediate job. Almost every great job I’ve gotten through my career has been through people who I’ve worked with and I knew and I wouldn’t have known so many people if I wouldn’t have chosen well.”

“Pay attention to relationships and company politics. Figure out who are the influencers and why are these people the influencers and what can I learn from them. I naively believed that [the world operates on facts] early in my career and what I realized down the road is there’s a lot of different ways to look at the facts and look at situations. People have different agendas and it’s really important to understand what those agendas are. It’s important to understand people’s motivations and hidden agendas and the best way to do that is to focus on developing positive relationships and learning how to influence people.”

“It’s important to be realistic in a marriage. As your marriage matures and you both mature in your career, often you do have to make a choice about which person’s career is going to be dominant if it’s important for you to live in the same city. If you don’t care and your happy to have a bicoastal relationship then that’s your lifestyle choice.”

“Be an advocate for positive change. Companies are looking for employees who can add value, they’re not looking for employees to come in and do the job and clock out at five o’clock and just do the job the same mundane way.”


Deanne R. Mendoza, co-owner and executive vice president of Teacher Created Materials

“I do a tremendous amount of interviewing of women and I think we need to ask for more things that we want. In those interviews, when people talk about the glass ceiling, the difference between what the men will come in and ask for and expect and the women, who will be appreciative that you’re offering anything, is tremendous.”

“Be careful with the first person that you meet. Usually the first person that you meet is someone who understands a lot about the company, but is also pretty gossipy. They are an important person to know but not the great friend they appear to be. Also, I would always say sorry when there was nothing to say sorry about. Those words came out of my mouth anytime someone was uncomfortable. Don’t date people that you work with.”

“Network. I went to school up in Los Angeles at the college that’s known for its networking and it was very foreign to me how much knowing different people really helped open up different doors.”

“Don’t apologize for being a millennial, take the best parts, take the fearlessness of it and create amazing businesses. If you’re looking for a work-life balance you’re creating a challenge already, you’re creating that you’re going to feel guilty no matter what. I think you’re supposed to find work that you love.”


Elizabeth M. Jones, director of business development for Coca-Cola North America

“Wage parity in the United States is not going to happen until 2059 and in the world its projected to be another 159 years. One of the things as I researched and looked at this issue is the unconscious bias that people have, especially toward women, and that was particularly true when I was a much younger version of myself. I was a single mother for a time and I had a lot of people think I wasn’t able to travel or be there for certain events and that prohibited me from doing certain things.”

“I think some of the things in my career that may have not gotten me where I wanted to go faster is because I was afraid to ask. You’ll hear this come up in a lot of conversations when they talk about men and women. Sheryl Sandberg [chief operating officer of Facebook] has this great quote where she talks about how a man feels like if he is 20-30 percent qualified for a job he will put in his application and figure he will learn the rest of the work on the job itself and for women we often feel like we have to be 90 percent qualified by the time we actually feel qualified for the job. What I would encourage you to do is take some risks in your career and when you are in the job and they are putting you through training, you need to ask this very important question: what is it that I need to be doing to be prepared for my next job? And if your company offers you that training you need to take that.”

“I’ve seen a lot of stupid things happen to really smart people over the years. The number one [advice] for all of you is integrity. Whether it is getting in the company car and driving drunk, or fudging something on an expense report or telling your boss you did something when you actually didn’t do it thinking that you’ll make it up at the last minute. Your integrity is most important, and it’s not only your work integrity, it’s also the integrity of what you have online.”

“You need to work on your EQ, your emotional intelligence is just as important as your IQ. It’s your ability to stand up and have an executive presence, look at somebody in the eye, shake their hand with a firm handshake, be curious, be innovative in your approach and be confident with others.”


Roxana Carrillo, senior staff engineer at Avocet Environmental, Inc.

“Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t be afraid to fail.”

“Find your own definition of success and know that you are worthy of accomplishing that success because success can mean something different for each person.”

Stephanie Rivera covers immigration and the north, west and central parts of Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter at @StephRivera88.

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