Women of Innovation Speak Out During Dallas Start Up Week
Strategic Innovation had the privilege to sponsor “Women of Innovation,” a day-long summit during Dallas Startup Week dedicated to educating and promoting the success of women. Dallas Startup Week is a free, five-day annual event located in the heart of Dallas, TX, bringing together entrepreneurs and change-makers from across the region. This year, Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business played host. The well attended event featured an agenda of powerful speakers not only sharing their stories of success, but an audience of North Texas women there along with a virtual audience to network, exchange ideas, and be inspired.
Tashara Parker, one of the speakers featured during Women of Innovation, is a TV personality, and anchor for WFAA’s Daybreak at local Dallas news station WFAA. Her message was of authenticity, and of being your true self, a lesson she learned when moving into her second professional position. Parker had learned what the industry had expected of her early on. How to dress, how to style her hair, and how to be the person society expected of her when on air. She followed those rules and expectations until one day, while talking to the woman who would later become her boss, she heard something unexpected. “Tashara, I don’t want you to change anything about you, just be yourself,” she said. “I just want you to be you, be ALL of you.” Parker stated, “The shift to be myself started to happen in the moment because I had other women supporting me.” Parker is a dynamic speaker, and she delivered a powerful message to the audience. Women supporting women in the workplace does make a difference. A big difference.
Tiffany Pham, who also spoke at the event, told her personal story which was rooted in her close relationship with her grandmother. Pham is the CEO and founder of Mogul, a company that supports diverse individuals and organizations looking to achieve their professional goals. Her own story began with her grandmother who lived and worked in Vietnam. Her grandmother was a force, and a trailblazer in her native Vietnam, and Pham greatly admired her. She was the first woman to drive a car in her country, she became a philanthropist and was also a businesswoman who, among other things, ran a newspaper. Before Pham’s grandmother died, Pham promised her that she would always work towards helping others, just like her grandmother always had.
In high school, Pham looked ahead to the future she envisioned, one where she would keep her promise to her grandmother. Pham did not have the money to tour colleges before deciding where she would attend. So, the first time she saw a college campus, it was her first day at Yale. Fueled by the promise to her grandmother to work hard and help others, she taught her introverted self how to speak up in class and make her voice heard. “Always speak up, always raise your hand, and always realize you belong,” Pham shared in her speech. She moved on to Harvard Business school for her graduate education and never looked back. Never shy away from a challenge, she shared. Looking at her many accomplishments, Pham has clearly demonstrated the power in believing in oneself, no matter the odds. She also kept her promise to her grandmother when she founded Mogul, a company that was created to help others.
The last speaker of the day was Ann Chow, who had just recently retired from AT&T. She spent 32 years with the company and considers her retirement to be the “halftime” in her career. Chow’s story started with her telling the story of growing up the daughter of a strong woman from Taiwan. Her mom knew she wanted to move to the U.S. to give her children better opportunities. She described her mother as a “Tiger mom” who taught her and her brother to always strive to be their best, not THE best. That was her mom’s definition of excellence. Her parents also taught their family that service to others is of the upmost importance. “My parents came to the U.S. with nothing but always said it was important to give back,” Chow said. “In order to BE good, you have to DO good,” she added. Chow clearly practices what she preaches as she stood in front of an audience of mostly women sharing her story and encouraging those who were listening with this very personal story.
The Women in Innovation track is an important day during Dallas Start Up Week each year. Strategic Innovation was a proud sponsor of the event that put so many powerful speakers on the stage. “The power of the Women of Innovation summit is to connect participants with like-minded individuals and allows the perfect opportunity for participants to gain expert insight and create new networking channels,” Stacey Gee-Miller, TFS National Manager Strategic Innovation at Toyota North America said. “We should not underestimate the power of new business exposure opportunities.” As Michelle Obama once said, “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” The women in the room during the Women in Innovation event are proof that is true.
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