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Below are more experiences from Dallas SWE members who attended WE14 in Los Angeles, CA October 22-25, 2014.  Enjoy!

Morgen Schroeder, Dallas SWE Secretary

I enjoyed that the sessions ranged from industry specific, or technical in nature, all the way to sessions promoting personal development through goal setting, career planning, leadership, and mentorship. It was awesome to connect with other ladies from other offices around the country that work for my same company, and I was so happy to reconnect with SWEsters from my collegiate SWE section!

Jennifer Vilbig, FY13 and FY14 Dallas SWE President

If you’ve never attended an annual society conference, you are missing out on countless sessions & motivational, inspirational speakers that will help you in both your professional and personal life. With registration, you have access to three days of sessions along eleven different tracts that range from career & life transitions to best practices for K-12 outreach.

This was my fourth annual conference, and somehow, until this year I missed the fact that the “Mega Sessions” (categorized under special events) are speakers you do not want to miss! I attended the “Mega Session: Playing Big” was presented by Tara Sophia Mohr, a leadership coach and author of Playing Big. The largest take away from this session was her advice to discovering your inner mentor. She stressed that an external mentor can only share what worked for them, but cannot tell you what will work for you! I only sat through the last half of her session, but she was so inspirational that I have purchased her book, and will be starting a thread on the Dallas SWE Linked-In Group to have a virtual book club for anyone interested! Another mega session I attend was presented by Gail Golden, a psychologist and consultant for over 25-years. Her talk, Finding & Using your Power described eight different types of power, but focused mainly on expert power & referent power. She believes that effective women leaders successfully use expert and/or referent power. As engineers, we already have the qualifications to be considered an expert. In addition, we should cultivate our ability to communicate in a language that other people can understand as this is very useful in many businesses. Now, you’re probably wondering what exactly referent power means, just as I was during the session.  She described it by mentioning Oprah; others admire her, want her approval and desire to be more like her. Authenticity & consistent honesty are two ways to develop referent power. I attended several other sessions, but these were the two that stuck out in my mind most.

Couldn’t make the conference and are kicking yourself? Never fear! For $199 you can purchase access to the Virtual Conference that includes over 70 hours of recorded content to view at your leisure! Attended conference, but missed the two sessions I described above? Again, never fear! You can add access to the virtual conference to your full registration for only $19.95. Visit the WE14 Registration page for additional information.

Professionals, after reading about how wonderful the SWE annual conference is above, do you think you won’t get funding to attend from your boss? Have you even asked? I encourage you to watch out for the WE15 announcement e-mails and utilize the three step Cost/Benefit Kit on the website (once it is launched). This kit will prepare a formatted letter with the advances to attending as well as an estimate on the costs so you can forward it directly to your boss! The worst that can happen is he/she will say no!

Nandika D’Souza, PhD – Dallas SWE Vice President of Outreach

The realization hits me more than a few times a day “I worked for 18 years before I went to a SWE National Conference”. I have spent the last couple of years doing leadership workshops, attended a host of professional development talks, have devoured communication books, leadership training……Nothing seems to have hit the spot as well as the time I spent at the SWE National Meeting in Los Angeles. So what were the things that made it so amazing?

  1. To be in a building filled with successful, intelligent, dressed in business casual, formal, informal. Hearing the laughter and realizing that all the things that make me tick work for others too.
  2. To attend the plenary sessions and learn to both acknowledge that there is the inner critic and that there are steps we can do to overcome them.
  3. To understand the fundamentals of LEED certification from the perspective of a working professional
  4. To engage with global engineers in the hallways of the hotel and get a perception of the scope of engineering for a better tomorrow. I learnt a lot about needs for energy and water filtration that we can all help with.
  5. Learning how global teams can work together from Honeywell and ramifications of analytical/overly critical responses to our colleague’s self-confidence.
  6. Feeling so positive from seeing my 3 UNT engineering students around the convention center from the faculty-counsellor sessions and getting great ideas on what we can do for our engineering students at UNT.
  7. Getting to see just what a selfless leadership we have at Dallas SWE. It was inspiring to see Jennifer Vilbig mentor Georgia Tech students and alum, sitting with them at many sessions and have Shelley give up her Celebrate SWE tickets for me to be able to attend the event.
  8. Sharing a room with engineers was a great experience too as I got perspectives from other engineers of the day and felt even more enlightened.
  9. Just loving the WE14 Mobile App and then buying books by the zillion as I picked up books on the amazon app from a talk on coupling tone and word choice.

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