BENNINGTON — The Bank of Bennington hosted an event focused on promoting women in business on Thursday evening, featuring keynote speaker Mariko Silver, president of Bennington College.
Silver spoke about some of the unique challenges women face in the business community, as well as the importance of mentoring and planning for success. One piece of advice that she had found useful, she learned from Arizona State University president Michael Crow when she was working there. He advised her to develop a 1-3-5-10 year plan, and to focus on goals in three categories: first, goals for your sector or organization, goals that are bigger than you as an individual; second, professional goals, where you want your career to go and how you plan to get there; and, finally, personal goals.
"I read a lot of resumes," she told the assembled audience, most of whom were women, "We do a lot of hiring across a wide range of areas, so we think about resumes and how we present ourselves as professionals a lot. Women tend to fill their resumes with organizations they've worked for. Men write about their accomplishments. This is a stereotype, but this is what I've seen." She said that while the focus on organizations and group accomplishments shows good team spirit, it doesn't show how the individual would be a good addition to their team, or more importantly, how they would be a better addition than the other applicants. "Sometimes you have to force someone to see you, and what you bring to the table," she said.
Silver also spoke about improving the relations between Bennington College and the greater Bennington community. "The future of the college and the future of the community are intertwined," she said, "Because I have two little kids, I'm involved in the community in a deeper way. I care about the schools, I care about the parks, I want to learn about places to take my kids." She said that the college needs to be more transparent and better advertise the events they have on the campus that are open to the public. "We have world renowned people come and speak at the College. That should be a huge asset for the community, yet we've struggled to get community members to come out to those events."
Silver took questions from the audience, and her talk kept a very casual tone. "I didn't know there were going to be men here," she joked at one point, "so I had to cut most of my remarks."
The event was co-sponsored by the Bank of Bennington and Lever Inc., a North Adams based organization which, according to the mission statement on their website, "supports local economic development by creating and growing enterprises that leverage local assets, including the talents of young people from our region's colleges." Their executive director, Jeff Thomas, said that their goal in hosting this and similar events was, "to strengthen our community around women leaders." He said Lever had started a meet-up group for female professionals in the Berkshires last year, which currently has over 140 members.
The event was followed by a reception and networking opportunities. To learn more about Lever, you can visit their website at www.leverinc.org.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.