By Amanda Bates | Photo by McKinley Wiley
Looking back at her original plan, Doerschuk realizes that her initial vision was uncharacteristically restrained and, in fact, represented the exact thing that she had designed the conference to eliminate — doubt.
Slated for Oct. 29 at Landerhaven, WLCNEO has turned into a full-day conference, with 12 speakers, 17 exhibitors, and more than 200 registered attendees.
Doerschuk had been to countless business conferences, including the 2011 Northern Ohio Human Resources Convention, of which she was the committee chair. She knew she wanted to make WLCNEO different from other corporate leadership events.
whe“Typically women’s business conferences are tied to an award,” she says. “If it’s not tied to an award, than it’s only for those at the executive level.”
Although such events offer value to attendees, Doerschuk wants her conference to benefit all women, regardless of where they are at in their professional careers. Her goal is to leave them feeling “empowered, inspired, and motivated” from networking and listening to the speakers.
The 12 speakers are all active in Northeast Ohio’s business community and represent a range of the area’s employment sectors – healthcare, insurance, and hospitality, to name a few.
WLCNEO will feature three keynote speakers at breakfast, lunch, and in the afternoon. During each of the three breakout sessions between keynotes, attendees will have the choice to listen to three different inspirational speakers.
The first breakout session includes Lissa Barry, the president and CEO of Delta Systems, discussing “My Right Brain in a Left Brain Company.” Kathy Sterio, the chief marketing officer at GE Lighting, will tell her story of “Navigating a Career in a Dynamic Industry.”
Kristin Tull, the president at PRADCO, will touch on women’s emotional intelligence in her talk, “Women in Leadership: What We Do, How We Do It, and How to Be More Successful.”
The jam-packed schedule also includes a luncheon keynote with Olympic Gold Medal-winning gymnast Dominique Moceanu.
For Doerschuk, it’s all about their stories: What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them? “Whether it’s early in your career, or late in your career, you always need to hear from people who made it,” she says. “You want to know what made them take the leap.”
That is one of the reasons WCLNEO will not feature a panel. Each of the speakers has a valuable personal story to pass on to the audience, and Doerschuk wants these stories to take center stage.
WLCNEO will cater to attendees who are looking for professional or personal mentors. Finding a mentor was something Doerschuk struggled with when she first moved to Cleveland for a job at Alliance Solutions Group, a staffing agency in Independence in 2004. She was fresh out of college, and unsure where to turn to for guidance in terms of career development.
“I wish I had a conference like this when I was 24,” she says.
Over the years, Doerschuk has found countless mentors who have influenced the various facets of her life. She grew up participating in as many extracurricular activities as she could, and she hasn’t slowed her pace.
One important mentor is the current CEO of Alliance Solutions, Aaron Grossman. Grossman understands Doerschuk’s mission and gives her leeway she needs to make it happen.
Her drive has helped the company grow immensely, from seven employees to more than 100. She has been the top salesperson at Alliance Solutions Group since 2005, and in 2013 was promoted to director of marketing.
Not all women have Doerschuk’s innate sense of ambition, and those that do don’t necessarily have a supportive community from which to draw inspiration or strength.
This is the gap that she hopes to bridge with WCLNEO.
Fortunately, she’s learned that women in leadership roles are not only willing to reach out to others; they are passionate about using their experiences to illuminate a path.
“I used to worry, ‘Who is going to give me their time?’” she says. “But if you ask them, and talk to them, you’ll see that they want to help.”
Over the next three to five years, she plans on making WCLNEO the leading women’s conference in the country and bringing major personalities to Cleveland.
To empower women to become leaders in the workplace is her goal for each conference participant.
“We need to stop asking for permission, and start asking for a promotion,” says Doerschuk.
For more information: wlcneo.squawqr.com