Small business owner Vernalisa Bruce expected to take away a lot of important information from a women-focused networking event Thursday at Alabama State University, and she wasn't disappointed.
"I was taking notes, and I've just written all over the program," Bruce said.
Businesswomen from Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama Power and more spoke to the crowd of professionals and students at the annual Women 2 Women conference inside the ASU Acadome. Andrea Price of the school's Small Business Development Center said the speakers' stories help show the path to success, a message that has become even more important as new opportunities arise.
"There's always what we call the glass ceiling, but some of those ceilings are starting to go away now," Price said. "Women are moving into those top-level management positions.
"There are a lot of (federal) programs that are set aside for women. The door is really open for us right now, and we just have to step through it."
One of the speakers, Denise Baylor of Maxwell Air Force Base's Gunter Annex, talked about how more of those opportunities have surfaced in information technology amid a federal push to involve more women in the industry.
Another speaker, Montgomery Advertiser Executive Editor Wanda Lloyd, emphasized the importance telling employers what you really want to do and then pursuing those goals.
It was a message that rang true for Bruce. "I could tell my mom 'They said no,' and she'd tell me 'No, honey, you keep going,'" Bruce said. "I have a right to be happy and pursue my dreams."
Bruce followed that advice to start her own company, Two of Me Errand and Concierge Service. "There are a lot of busy, two-income families where nobody can pick up the dry cleaning, get the oil changed, get the license and tags," Bruce said. "If you forgot to get a gift, we'll go get it and your wife will never know you missed it."
She said one of the most important things she got at the conference was reassurance from other successful women that Two of Me was a good business idea, and she was among many people there who were anxious to establish business ties with the speakers and other fellow professionals.
The convention's "Designed for Success" title wasn't just a metaphor -- it ended with a fashion show that featured everything from office styles to outfits designed for after-hours networking.
Price said the goal of the show was to clear up confusion about different types of business attire, especially among the younger aspiring professionals in attendance.
"We have some young students in the audience from Montgomery Public Schools and also some ASU College of Business Administration students," Price said. "We want to show them the business appearance and what you should look like. Everyone gets confused on business casual, what it really is."
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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