Women’s Professional Development Program Launched in San Diego

June 8, 2017

By Ana Gomez Salcido

In San Diego County, only 37 percent of top executives are women.

The Advance program by the the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce seeks to increase that number by closing the gender gap in the C-suite and boardroom.

Over the course of seven months, Advance will provide the networking, mentoring, and training women need to take their careers to the next level. Advance’s inaugural class will include 40 women representing San Diego’s diverse business, nonprofit, and government landscape.

The program’s first session was held at the Grand Ballroom of the Pendry Hotel in San Diego, on Thursday, June 8.

Alison Levine a history-making adventurer and author of the New York Times bestseller “On the Edge: Leadership Lessons from Everest and other Extreme Environments” was the keynote speaker of the program’s first session.

Levine shared how the lessons she learned as team captain of the first American Women’s Everest Expedition, working on Wall Street, and in other extreme conditions can be applied to any leadership challenge.

“You should learn how to take action based on what’s going on around you instead of based on whatever plan you had developed in the last year, month or even week,” Levine said. “The plans are outdated as soon as they are finished because the environments keep shifting and changing. I think we can all agree that the world today is shifting and changing very rapidly, and you need to learn how to improvise and take action based on what’s going on at the time.”

The City of San Diego is a sponsor of the program and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer provided a welcoming address to the first session attendees.

“More than 50 percent of our city management team is made out of women. This includes Shelley Zimmerman, who is the first woman police chief in the history of the City of San Diego, who I appointed in my first day of office.” Faulconer said. “The fact, is that we have women leaders in the City of San Diego that are crafting our budgets, running our departments, and that’s something we are really proud of.”

The Advance program started after some of the biggest companies that are members of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce asked the chamber to help the women progress in the workforce.

“Companies that have women in leadership roles like in a CEO position, or as part of the board, are more productive, efficient, and have more merit,” said Paola Avila, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce vice president. “The business sector will improve if we have more women in top level positions.”

The program’s sessions will continue to be held once a month, each with a different approach.

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