Juli Golemi recently completed the Leading Women@Tech program
Diversity, equity, and inclusion can sometimes seem like catch phrases that organizations use, but don’t really follow through on. At Georgia Tech, the Leading Women@Tech program, which is housed in Institute Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (IDEI), is proving that the Institute doesn’t just talk the talk, it walks the walk.
Leading Women@Tech provides women with the opportunity and curriculum to strengthen their leadership abilities, enhance personal and professional growth, and support overall career development, while facilitating connections among women across campus.
“A leadership program is important for women because leadership can be lonely and isolating,” said Pearl Alexander, IDEI’s executive director of diversity, equity, and inclusion. “And it’s probably one of the most challenging experiences that folks have. This investment helps support women in their career growth and advancement. A lot of programs are designed to grow skills. Ours is different in that we are seeking to help women increase their self-awareness. Any leader, male or female needs that. To be a really good leader, you have to know yourself well, know your strengths, your limitations, and possibilities.”
The development of women leaders has been shown to strengthen organizations and businesses, make them better places to work, and enhance the bottom line.
Juli Golemi, the Enterprise Innovation Institute’s director of Innovation Ecosystems in the Economic Development Lab (EDL), recently completed the program as part of the sixth cohort of women leaders.
“I really liked that it was a diverse group of speakers and a diverse group of participants,” Golemi said. “We all came from different backgrounds, representing different units, and we brought our own experiences.”
That diversity is one of the ways a cohort is selected, Alexander said.
“We develop the cohort with a number of variables in mind including diversity in perspective,” she said. “A lot of the value of the cohort is they’re growing together, they’re learning, and everyone contributes from their experience, from their knowledge base. That really shapes the power of the experience. With Juli, she had experience with international studies. She studied at a European university, as well as domestically. She’s part of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, which is doing some very innovative things.”
The two-month program, which paused during the pandemic, roared back to life last fall with 26 participants from across the Georgia Tech campus. Leading Women@Tech launched in 2016 as a result of feedback from the 2012 Climate Assessment Survey, which revealed a desire for more mentoring and networking opportunities for women at Georgia Tech. Since its launch, more than 120 women have participated in the program. It is offered to women at the director level and nominations for the next cohort will open in April.
“Our primary target year over year has been women in that director-level role, because they are the ones who have significant influence in the organization,” Alexander said. “They are usually leading very impactful initiatives, and they’re in the middle in terms of their career trajectories. It’s a pivotal time in their careers.”
The fall 2022 program consisted of in-person and online leadership development, hands-on activities to assess the participants personal leadership styles, and stress relievers including meditation practice.
“The hands-on skill-building sessions in the areas of emotional intelligence and storytelling were the highlights of the program for me,” Golemi said. “We also focused on the practice of mindfulness. A spiritual teacher guided the group though a couple of meditation sessions. The practical approach of the sessions, followed by stimulating discussions made it an exceptional learning experience.”
The cohort may have completed the active part of the program, but as participants, they are members for life, and will be invited back to future events and programs.
“The program underscored the importance of being a mindful and an intentional leader,” Golemi said. “I lead a very diverse team, so keeping that cultural aspect in mind is where the intentional leading comes in. This program has provided me with the tools and skills necessary to intentionally lead my very talented team in achieving excellence.”