Written by Cynthia Paulis, firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 23 May 2014 00:00
Close to 200 women went to Briarcliff College in Bethpage to attend the Fair Media Council’s Women’s Empowerment Summit with keynote speaker Bernadette Castro, COO of Castro Convertibles and former New York State Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
The morning opened with Castro delivering the key note speech followed by six breakout sessions with an impressive group of panelists from all different fields including some elected officials, CEO’s, doctors, lawyers, writers, bankers and media executives.
“Your career track is not based on 9-to-5,” Castro told the audience. “If you want to get ahead get in 20 minutes early and leave 20 minutes late, return e mails on the weekend and be available by cell phone.”
After her keynote address, Castro talked about why she decided to be a part of this event.
“I share those things — getting in early, leaving late, dressing professionally, contributing and taking the difficult jobs, take the difficult assignment or the trip to hell no one wants to go to — those are easy to do when their children are not born or are older,” she said. “What I didn’t get to say today that I wanted to say was that if you become indispensable to your boss or supervisor then when you need to take the time out your boss will say, ‘it’s fine, how many hours can you give us?’ You will never get that response if you don’t care and you are only there for the paycheck. You show up, do your job and you leave. You don’t want to be bothered on the weekend. Those days are gone. The Internet and the email system has given our supervisors and our colleges access to us all the time so we have to accept that. It is a good tool for those of us who are ambitious and want to go places.”
Beth Meixner, founder and president of Moxxie, a mentoring and leadership group, shared her views on Castro’s speech.
“I respectfully disagree with Castro on the views she took on getting in early and staying late,” said Meixner. “The rules of business were created by men and women don’t have to fit into those rules. It suited them [men] personally, their skill sets and innate talents, but it doesn’t suit our own. It is like trying to put a square peg into a round hole. This is why many women have created their own businesses that are more family friendly.”
A lively dialogue ensured afterward which seemed to split along generational lines, with the younger members agreeing with Meixner.
Moderator of one panel, Diane Masciale, executive producer of WNET/WLIW 21 said overall the event was a wonderful experience for women of all ages.
“I think this is a very instructive event for women whether you are young or old or in between,” she said. “I am a woman leader, I run a business, I have a staff, yet I learned a lot of things from this conference that I can apply every day at work. I thought some of the comments from the panel were very informative, such as be your own person, don’t be afraid to be a woman and a leader, don’t say you’re sorry all the time, don’t use the word ‘just.’ This kind of conference where women come together, help one another, support one another and give advice is invaluable.”
Linda Armyn, senior vice-president of corporate stategy at Bethpage Federal Credit Union, said women lucky enough to witness the seminar walked away with some useful professional advice.
“This is a great event bringing a lot of smart people together to share ideas and help each of us become better,” said Armyn. “I have known Ms. Castro for 11 years and have worked closely with her and have seen her in action. She walks the walk, what she says is what she does. She is a very successful woman so even if you take a couple of her tips it can only make you better.”