By: NCACPA Charlotte Chapter Women’s Initiative Steering Committee
Success is often times hard to measure. However, when you request feedback from a diverse group of attendees, and get responses like these, it’s hard not to call the Charlotte Chapter’s Women’s Initiative a success.
“It was great to have an opportunity to meet other women in various accounting and finance roles. Discussing challenges, lessons learned, as well as experiences and how these were applicable cross-industry, was an interesting ‘find’ and one that I think proves the value of sharing and discussion initiatives. Regardless of role, industry, and years of experience—there is a commonality to our experiences and we have an opportunity to learn a great deal from one another!”
—Jessica Howard, Manager, Accenture
“I enjoyed being able to meet women who work in the accounting profession and hear their career stories. The small group setting made it easy to converse with those around you and feel much more relaxed than a normal networking event. I look forward to attending the next meeting and discussing more contemporary issues woman face in their careers.”
—Lauren Eichinger, Senior Accountant, Cherry Bekaert LLP
“It was a wonderful way to meet and share experiences with other women in our accounting profession.”
—Eleni Saunders, Vice President Finance, Charlotte Center City
The Charlotte chapter created a new women’s initiative this year as part of their Chapter Action Plan. The goal was to find a way to engage women in the Charlotte community. The initiative was open-ended with no specifics as to what it would entail. Then magic happened—Melisa Galasso, Charlotte Chapter President, was introduced to Beth Allen, Senior Manager for Greer Walker, at a mutual client lunch where Beth shared her passion for women in the profession. Sensing an opportunity in the making, the ladies later met to discuss the possibilities of the Chapter’s women’s initiative.
Based on the results of the Charlotte Chapter’s survey, conducted in May, the ladies were able to identify women who were interested in helping drive the initiative and a steering committee was formed. A few months later, members of the steering committee had a planning meeting to decide where to take the initiative. As it was new to the Chapter, there were no limits. The ladies decided on a book club type atmosphere with a blend of education and networking. They decided to start off with quarterly meetings that had a theme which would drive the discussion. The group picked “communication” for their initial theme and then selected “Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson as the book to lead the event. All the ladies in the Chapter were invited to a lunch event. They were asked to read certain chapters of the book to help with the discussion.
The day of the event, we had a sellout crowd. The tables at Roosters; in South Park, were filled with excited women looking for exactly this type of atmosphere. The event started with some information about the Chapter and its committees and initiatives from Melisa. Beth then gave a brief history of the initiative as well as some of the goals we had laid out. Then, Cindy Brown, Chair of the NCACPA, addressed the group. We then broke up into small groups to discuss “communication.” The atmosphere was just buzzing. Conversation flowed. During the conversation, lunch was served. After an hour of conversation, the group was brought back together for a large group discussion. The ladies then exchanged contact information to keep the conversation going. The feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive. We have high hopes for the future of this initiative and we hope to see more women get involved and join our events.
Beth Allen, Cindy Brown, Melisa Galasso