For the second year, the Virginia Council of CEOs (VACEOs) teamed up with The Richmond MBA for the women’s Future-Proofing Your Career event in RVA.

The 2019 theme focused on the importance of mentoring and connected RVA women through roundtable discussions facilitated by VACEOs members and sponsors. More than one hundred women in the RVA business community gathered in the Jepson Alumni Center for open conversations about their careers. Connie Bruce, director of operations and member services for VACEOs teamed up with Debbie Fisher, associate director of The Richmond MBA, to plan the second annual event. 

“The Virginia Council of CEOs appreciates partnering with The Richmond MBA on this event,” Bruce said. “It’s great for our own members, but it’s also great for the business community as a whole to focus on women business owners and executives. The energy is incredible – participants come and learn from each other by sharing.”

Women discussed everything from professional skills to personal challenges in the workplace, and learned strategies for success from one another.

 “The Future-Proofing Your Career event was a great way for women of all backgrounds, ages, and experience levels to share our stories and help each other through our different stages of growth in our career,” said Lauren Pilkington, GB ’19, an event attendee.

The focus on mentoring drove many conversations about how to find and maintain mentors, as well as mentees, throughout one’s career. Julia Simo, GB’19, shared some of the conversations from her roundtable.

“We talked about how a mentor is a loyal friend and advisor, and someone who actually cares,” Simo said. “It’s important to focus on one relationship at a time, and to choose to invest in that relationship. Mentorship means bringing people up with you with mutual learning and respect.”

Natasha Knight, GB’21, agrees, and says having a mentor has helped her throughout her career, and she encourages others to pursue those relationships.

“Having supportive and experienced mentors in my network has allowed for a frequent exchange of career insights and provided accountability for reaching my goals,” Knight said. “Over the years, I’ve learned that serving as a mentor for others is equally important and enriching for my professional development.”

The event also featured Linda Schreiner, senior vice president of strategic management at Markel Corporation, as the keynote speaker. 

Schreiner has experience in career counseling and mentoring, sharing some of the challenges mentorships can face, including finding the right fit, and getting the most out of the relationship.

“Success happens one person at a time, one relationship at a time,” Schreiner said. “I think we should start with that one relationship we choose to invest in and give that our all. Don’t try to do everything and don’t try to over-program things.”

She encouraged participants to pursue mentorships because they can be so rewarding for all those involved.

“In the end, I hope you get the same joy out of mentoring that I do, because it’s just wonderful to see people try to achieve goals, work hard and succeed,” Schreiner said.

Fisher was inspired by Schreiner’s words, and hopes others will heed her advice.

“Thinking about how long Linda and I have known each other reminds me that relationships are foundational; they don’t happen overnight,” Fisher said. “As she was when I first met her, Linda is still focused on helping others think through what they would love to do and then helping them find a way to do it.”

Fisher hopes attendees found mentors they could begin working with as a result of the event, and is thrilled to work with VACEOs to begin planning the annual Future-Proofing event for 2020.