Community Engagement

Another Sold-out Women’s Emerging Leadership Forum

On November 3, 2023, the Lam Family College of Business (LFCoB) at San Francisco State University welcomed a sold-out audience to its ninth annual Women’s Emerging Leadership Forum (WELF), hosted in collaboration with KPMG at their San Francisco office, located at 55 Second Street. An inspiring, one-day event designed for those seeking to advance in their profession, WELF 2023 featured informative and motivational discussions tied to the event theme, ‘Embracing Change and Alchemizing the Future,’ and delivered by prominent community thought leaders and top managers.

The speakers, representing a variety of industries and fields, included Kelly Wong Craven Director and Associate General Counsel for Facebook, Meta; Sally Thornton, CEO and Founder, Forshay; Chia-Lin Simmons, CEO, LogicMark, Inc.; Rachel Konrad, Chief Brand Officer, The Production Board; Heather Watkins, Co-Founder and COO, Bold Reuse; and Thuy Vu, Co-Founder and CEO, Global Mentor Network. They shared their unique stories, which demonstrated how they materialized various forms of change in their professional and personal lives.

The event started with a welcome and opening remarks from Guisselle Nunez, Associate Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Communications and CMO at SF State.

Kelly Chow Craven took over the speaker spot for Rebecca Tierney - the inspiration for the event theme - who couldn’t make it due to a last-minute health issue. Craven shared an insightful presentation on the ways companies and employees think about change, especially within the context of Silicon Valley, in general, and Meta, in particular.

After a coffee break, the keynote speaker, Sally Thornton, took the stage to share a presentation on the future of teams, work, and well-being. She shared her personal story of change that led her to start Forshay and her insights on change with behavioral science references that captivated the audience. 

Representing a wide range of industries and professions, including students, the 100 attendees had time to network with one another throughout the day.

After the lunch break, a discussion with a three-person panel made of Chia-Lin Simmons, Rachel Konrad, and Heather Watkins, was moderated by Bahar Javadi, Assistant Professor of Management at SF State. The discussion allowed each panelist to not only share their own perspectives on change in the world, in their professions, and in their personal lives, but also to interact with each other, creating a robust conversation and an exchange of ideas about the different tools and strategies to deal with challenges and change.

The last session of the event was a fireside chat featuring Thuy Vu, with Guisselle Nunez as the moderator. The audience appeared highly engaged and inspired as they listened to Vu share her story of immigrating to the U.S. on a boat separated from her family, followed by a long and successful career.

One of the event attendees was last year's keynote speaker, Carine Schneider, FGE, now Founding Partner at Compass Equity. Asked what she thought of this year's WELF, Schneider replied, “it was a really good conference, great speakers and good guidance for people of all ages.” Another attendee, Kelly Chuck from LinkedIn, said, “It was special to take a step away from the day-to-day of work to network and invest in my own professional development.”  Dominique Hoover, another attendee from LinkedIn, added, “It was also inspiring to connect with the students present and hear about their goals, career aspirations, and fresh perspectives on the job market and future of work.”

Rachel Konrad, one of this year's panelists, commented, “What a spectacular event. Big enough to get a diverse, engaged crew together but small enough to facilitate one-on-one networking. I talked at length to people throughout, and they raved about the content, the networking sessions, and the overall convenience [of] a one-day gathering in the heart of San Francisco. I plan to attend again next year. Congrats on an excellent event, and huge thanks for inviting me to be part of it. It was a highlight of the entire year.”

WELF is the flagship event of the Lam-Larsen Community Engagement Initiative, led by Marketing Professor Gulnur Tumbat, who commented, “as a public education institution, we value our collaboration with KPMG greatly to materialize this event in a very professional space. Such external partnerships are key to what we aim to accomplish with these events, that is, connecting with more people within the communities we are part of, inside and outside of our campus.” She added, "We are also grateful to all the inspiring speakers who donated their time to this event and generously shared their personal and professional journeys and insights." 

Visit the WELF 2023 Event Photos page to view more photos from this special event.

WELF 2023 event photos montage

Women’s Emerging Leadership Forum Welcomes a Sold-Out Audience

On October 13, 2022, the Lam Family College of Business (LFCoB) at San Francisco State University hosted its eighth annual Women’s Emerging Leadership Forum (WELF) in collaboration with KPMG, one of the Big Four accounting firms, at their San Francisco office, located at 55 Second Street. Billed as a lively, one-day, interactive event designed for women seeking to advance in their profession, WELF 2022 featured informative and inspiring presentations tied to the ‘Blazing Your Path’ event theme and delivered by prominent community thought leaders and top managers, along with activities to stimulate the minds and bodies of the sold-out audience.

Representing a wide range of industries and professions, the 90 people in attendance had time to network with one another during breaks taken throughout the day. The program began with a talk delivered by Keynote Speaker Carine Schneider, FGE, President of AST, an industry leader in cloud-based capitalization table software for private firms. The audience listened intently as Schneider discussed executive compensation for women and the issues women experience when negotiating compensation—particularly with respect to equity ownership, considered the true source of wealth creation for top managers. A lively question-and-answer session with the audience followed Schneider’s talk, which also included engaging stories of her personal journey to top management.

A  panel discussion on how to ‘Create Your Path:  Thrive During Change and Uncertainty’ was moderated by the event master of ceremonies, Jingmei Li, a faculty member in the Management academic department at San Francisco State and HR consultant with decades of experience in global HR, education, design and strategy. The panel speakers were Lucy Chen, Vice President of Claris FileMaker Platform Engineering at Apple, and Cathy Peng, CEO at ROCS Global, Inc. They shared interesting stories and insights from their unique journeys to the top of their professions. Among other topics, Chen spoke on issues of how she overcame demanding engineering problems in her role at Apple. Peng discussed personal power and emphasized the importance of self-efficacy and the power of nurturing one’s personal energy.

The Plenary Speaker, Gulnur Tumbat, Professor of Marketing at SF State and Director of the Lam-Larsen Community Engagement Initiative, spoke of her personal journey to the top of Mount Everest, an extraordinary tale of perseverance and sheer determination, as well as skills and experience development. Tumbat’s talk was accompanied by dramatic photos and video clips of her experiences “blazing her path” to the top of Everest. As the only female in her climbing party, Tumbat touched on multiple themes broadly relevant for anyone seeking to advance in their careers, regardless of industry. Interestingly, Tumbat has now climbed  the highest mountain peaks on each of six continents, with the seventh continent, Antarctica, awaiting her.  When she achieves this next goal, Tumbat will join the ranks of a select group of women who have summited the highest peak on each of the seven geographic continents.

Peng wrapped up the session with an invigorating round of high energy and fun exercises enthusiastically performed by everyone at the event. Peng believes that forums, such as this one, should stimulate the body as well as the mind.

When asked what it took to pull off what appeared to be a seamless event, Lam-Larsen Community Engagement Director Tumbat commented, "The event took months of planning and executing. It would not have been possible without the commitment and hard work of my colleagues on the WELF 2022 planning team, Professors Bruce Heiman, Venoo Kakar, Jingmei Li, and Matt Hu, and Robert David, an external professional development expert." 

Event attendee Corrina Dilloughery, Cohesity Academy Onboarding Manager at Cohesity, said, "I absolutely loved Carine's session on negotiations. I have no problem negotiating for an organization, but sometimes hold back negotiating for myself because I don't want to appear greedy or that I am just here for the money." She also noted the diversity of the speakers' backgrounds.  Dilloughery added that WELF was a great opportunity, and she would recommend the event to others as she gained insights to help with her future career advancement.

Tumbat considered the sold-out event a major success and stated, “Everyone is looking forward to next year’s WELF with eager anticipation. We are grateful to the speakers who agreed to share their valuable experiences at WELF and to our event partner, KPMG San Francisco, for providing their amazing event space and for elevating the professional advancement of women."

Visit the WELF Event Photos page to view more photos from this special event.

WELF 2022 - all speakers; 5 different women in front of audience