2010 Leadership Conference

Introductory Remarks by MIT President Susan Hockfield

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Susan Hockfield, President of MIT since 2004, gave the welcome address at the inaugural GW@MIT Leadership Conference on November 8, 2010. She praises the efforts of the women who organized this conference for their hard work putting the event together, saying, "This is what I view as the most important role of leadership—helping people come together around the things they want to accomplish, and making it possible."

President Hockfield spoke about her own journey, her passion for being a scientist, and how the vitality of interdisciplinary work (such as the early 20th century merging of life sciences and engineering) at MIT might be a focus of leadership initiatives now and in the future.

Keynote Address by Sophie Vandebroek, Xerox

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Dr. Sophie Vandebroek, CTO of Xerox and President of the Xerox Innovation Group, delivered the keynote address. Dr. Vandebroek is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers and a Fulbright Fellow. She holds 12 US patents, is a member of the Board of Directors of Analogic Corporation and Nypro Corporation, and is a member of The US National Academies Committee on Science, Technology & Law.

In this video, Dr. Vandebroek details her journey from the time when, as a young girl, she watched the moon landing on television and dreamed of becoming an astronaut or scientist, to her days at Cornell, where she met her husband, and on through her professional journey, which includes conducting business in research and technology at Xerox for 14 years before becoming the new CTO and President. She spends ample time discussing what it's like, as a woman, to juggle many commitments while fostering innovation and strong business relationships.

Dress for Success with Sheri Falk (Basiques, Boston MA)

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It's not a pants suit world anymore, ladies, and Sheri Falk—designer, female entrepreneur, and owner of the Basiques store on Newbury Street in Boston—shows the GW@MIT women how to look and feel their best with a simple, elegant wardrobe during the Leadership Conference on November 9, 2010. Separates were modeled by three ladies using pieces from Sheri's collection, and she gives commentary on how each works to accent the "woman under the clothes" and how they can be rearranged with suit the office or the office party, with no trouble, or hassle, or worry over what is or isn't appropriate in each situation.

Other 2010 Conference Sessions

Assertive Communication Workshop

Prof. Roberta Pittore, a lecturer at the Sloan School of Management, led an interactive workshop on how to speak up and get your point across. Prof. Pittore read Manuel J. Smith's Bill of Assertive Rights and defined the difference between passive, aggressive, and assertive behavior. Participants were then given two strategies for dealing with aggressive behavior: 1) fogging, which involves calmly acknowledging criticism from an antagonist, but still asserting your truth and 2) broken record, which involves calmly repeating your truth in the face of criticism.

An example dialogue:

Antagonist: "I need you to do my experiment for me today."

You: "I can't—I don't have time."

Antagonist: "But, I really need you too!"

You: "I can't—I don't have time." (Broken record)

Antagonist: "But you said you would!"

You: "I may have said I would yesterday, but I don't have time today." (Fogging & Broken Record)

Antagonist: "You don't look busy. Why can't you put down the paper and read it tomorrow? That paper isn't important."

You: "This paper might not seem important, but it is. I'm meeting with the author tomorrow to discuss a possible collaboration." (Fogging)

After learning the theory behind the strategies, participants paired up and practiced criticizing one another and responding to the criticism using either the fogging or broken record technique.