Gearing Up

Gearing Up is a one-day conference targeted to women in the first decade of their careers. Bentley has offered this conference annually since 2006 and typically draws 125-150 participants from local corporations and professional services firms. Gearing Up combines a set of interactive skill-building workshops, an inspirational keynote and a panel of C-suite and mid-level executives from three different industries. In addition to the program itself, participants really value the opportunity to meet one another.

Over the years, corporate sponsorship of Gearing Up has grown steadily. Seventeen different companies each sent between four and twenty young women to the June 2013 conference. The CWB received evaluations from more than 80% of the 170 participants in Gearing Up. We use this feedback to update and improve the conference each year.


RECAP: Advancing In A Connected Age

Friday, June 7, 2013; LaCava Executive Dining Room

7:30 am - 3:30 pm

On Friday, June 7, 2013, the Center for Women and Business hosted its 8th Gearing Up Conference: Advancing In A Connected Age.  The Conference is offered annually for professional women in the first decade of their careers.  This year, over 160 women from companies and organizations around the Boston area attended Gearing Up.  Seventeen companies sponsored the conference – investing their resources in their accomplished and promising female employees.
Download the conference Program & Agenda.

The theme for this year’s conference, Advancing In A Connected Age, focused on career advancement through strategic and effective networking – communicating and connecting for personal and professional success.  Diane Hessan, Founder and CEO of Communispace, kicked off the morning with an invigorating and engaging keynote.  In her talk, she spoke of the importance of authenticity – being true to yourself, dreaming big, being strategic about your connections, meeting the right people, and when there are bumps in the road, trying not to take yourself too seriously.  At one moment, she told all participants to throw out the word “OR.”  She encouraged them to stop looking at work and life in terms of trade-offs, false choices, and extremes, and to adopt the word “AND” into their vocabulary and ambitions.

Attendees participated in two (out of six) interactive, skill-building workshops offered by prominent management experts and consultants. Workshop topics included: The Next 90 Days: Planning to Advance Personally and Professionally; Building Your Online Brand: Owning Your Name, Niche, and Look; Strategic Networking: Developing Critical Relationships; Connecting and Leading With Your Best Self; Connecting Through Non-Verbal Communication; and Difficult Conversations.   Workshop facilitators provided each participant with practical tools for career advancement.  One participant said, “I thought that the speakers were really motivating, especially at this point in my career. The workshops I took provided some great tips and the facilitators were very engaging.”  The facilitators were: Morra Aarons-Mele, Founder, Women Online and The Mission List; Alison Farquhar, Certified Executive Coach; Debra Kennedy, Director of Executive Education, Bentley University; Don Khoury, expert in non-verbal communication; Bonnie Marcus M.Ed., award winning entrepreneur and Forbes contributing writer; and Judy Shen-Filerman, Principal and Founder, Dreambridge Partners.

At lunch, a panel of accomplished business women shared their experiences and insights with participants.  This panel was unique in that it presented three pairs of women; each pair from an organization in a different industry — one senior executive, one middle level executive.  The panelists were: Natalie Corridan-Gregg, Sr. Director of Competitive Intelligence, EMC Corporation; Pam Cumming, Vice President of Corporate Marketing, Hologic, Inc.; Michelle Kang, Vice President of Client Relations, Bright Horizons Family Solutions; M L Krakauer, Executive Vice President of Human Resources, EMC Corporation; Becky McKie, Associate Vice President of Domestic Sales Administration, Hologic, Inc.; and Mary Ann Tocio, President and Chief Operating Officer, Bright Horizons Family Solutions. These women addressed a variety of important topics such as mentorship and sponsorship, overcoming gender bias and obstacles to advancement, skill development, strategic networking, and work/life integration techniques.  They confirmed Diane’s message that women need to be authentic and strategic.

The day culminated with a dynamic presentation by Lauran Star, an author, consultant, speaker, and leader in the field of emotional intelligence.  Lauran spoke on Developing a Personal Advisory Board; she provided participants with a strategy for forming a network of trusted advisors who assist in navigating the ups and downs of women’s careers.

The Center for Women and Business is grateful for the support of this year’s Conference sponsors:


Silver: Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Boston Scientific, Deloitte, Loomis Sayles, National Grid, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Sun Life Financial

Bronze: BJ's Wholesale Club, BNY Mellon, Bright Horizons, Brown Brothers Harriman, Commonwealth Financial, Fidelity, Iron Mountain, KPMG, LPL Financial

Quotes from Participants:

“Not only did I learn a lot from each of the speakers and sessions, but I relished having a day that I could fully devote to thinking about my professional growth. I came away feeling reinvigorated and inspired, and am already brainstorming ways to continue to learn, grow, and advance.”

“The conference was wonderful! I learned a lot at from each of the speakers, sessions, and panel discussion, from the more tactical tips and best practices for having difficult conversations and strategies for developing a strong online presence, to the broader advice for finding a mentor, developing strengths, and managing a work/life balance.”

More on Gearing Up 2014 coming soon.  For more information, please contact Toni Wolfman, Executive Advisor, at