Successful women in business must overcome numerous hurdles in order to grow their companies and ascend to leadership positions, says Smaiyra Million P’21, director of the Diana International Research Institute and strategic initiatives at Babson College’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship and Leadership (CWEL).
And, at Babson, Million prides herself on mentoring women to help them understand and empower their fortitude, improve negotiation skills, amplify leadership abilities, and eliminate negativity.
Here, she plays a large role in creating a path of progress for entrepreneurial women leaders.
“It’s important for (women) to know that no matter where you are in your career, there’s something transformative that happens when you have the opportunity to step outside of your business or company, working on the business and yourself instead of just in it,” Million said.
What she’s referring to is collaboration—coming together to learn from one another, network, and take action. It’s through Babson Executive Education programs such as the Leadership Program for Women and Allies that successful women in business are able to make the next step in their careers.
“Every time we’ve done these programs, the women leave very different than how they arrive,” Million said. “They leave stronger, more confident, with an ability to get back to their businesses and do things they weren’t able to do before.”
Many believe collaboration comes naturally to successful women in business.
Million said, however, that collaboration is an acquired skill, one that women can use effectively and with purpose in business situations to bring groups together and meet goals. As it has been demonstrated, collaboration is a key to innovation.
“Everybody is looking for innovation, companies doing the same thing in the same way over and over again usually become extinct,” Million said.
In addition to collaboration, qualities of successful women in business include a high emotional intelligence, an ability to identify talent, and the enthusiasm to invite others to express their opinion or voice, Million says.
“Women are much more apt to understand how to have diversity and inclusion in a meaningful way, because we’ve often not been invited to the table,” she said.
Million came to Babson in 2017 after three years as an Executive in Residence at CWEL and 30 years in the corporate world with companies such as The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company in senior leadership roles, including as a CEO for Millennium Partners Sports Club Management.
With decades of experience in management roles with luxury hotels, spas, and health clubs, Million empowers women by guiding them to understand and find their strengths.
“There is amazing magic for a reason,” Million said. “We help you think about who you are, how you show up, what your strengths are and most importantly how to use them.
“Part of what we look at, is how we identify these leadership skills in a woman, and make it acceptable for her to show up in her authentic self,” Million said.
These skills, Million advised, can effectively be brought back to businesses or companies and tailored to fit values.
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