Maryland today | Former social entrepreneurs take the stage at ‘Women…

Margo Thomas MS ’90 creates economic opportunity for women and underrepresented groups as founder and president of Women’s Economic Imperative.

L. Audrey Awasom ’18, Founder and CEO of Noble Uprising, is tackling economic inequality closer to home by educating and helping poor women by meeting their emergency needs and providing them with job training and skills. opportunities in Montgomery County, Maryland.

The two shared their thoughts on pursuing careers rooted in service as keynote speakers at Thursday night’s 11th annual Women Inspire event hosted by the Robert H. Smith School of Business. The event highlights past leaders who excel in business and celebrates women’s empowerment.

“Our two Women Inspire Award winners inspire the next generation of leaders, who will transform the world into a better place for all,” Dean Prabhudev Konana told the crowd gathered at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center. “They bring to the fore the extraordinary vision, talent and determination of the entire Maryland Smith community.”

Nicole Coomber, Assistant Dean of the Full-Time MBA Program and Associate Clinical Professor, moderated the discussion. A networking event followed.

Thomas and Awasom offered these career tips:

Be your own cheerleader. In meetings with more experienced colleagues, Awasom said she sometimes lowers her voice due to her own lack of experience. Many young professionals and entrepreneurs struggle with this, but it’s important that they recognize the value they can add to conversations. “I learned to trust my ideas, no matter how basic they may seem, and to stop filtering me,” said Awasom, who started her nonprofit as a student. “I believe what you tell yourself will determine your level of success because you have to be your greatest cheerleader.”

Make sure you’re on the right track. Whatever the goal or vision, it’s important to continually assess how you’re doing, said Thomas, who earned a Ph.D. and spent two decades as a senior official at the World Bank. Ask yourself questions like, “How am I? “Am I learning the right skills?” and “Is my vision what’s best for me?” “It will help you understand where you are, where you want to go, and what adjustments you need to make,” she said. “Be prepared to be brave if you have to change it.”

Pay it forward. Being able to serve and mentor the next generation of leaders is a privilege, Awasom said. You don’t have to wait until you’re older to become a mentor. start when you are ready. “There were so many people who mentored me when I was growing up giving me their time and resources and investing in my ideas,” Awasom said. “I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t do the same for others.”

Know your value. While looking for her first full-time job, Thomas said she received a call from a potential employer asking her to be more patient with her career aspirations. But she came away with a different lesson: Don’t settle. “When you’re trying to grow, understanding your worth is key,” Thomas said. “Stand in your power, but do it with humility. It’s something that has influenced a lot of my career decisions.

Find strength in numbers. Be a champion and stand up for others, not just in what you say, but also in how you invest your time and other resources. “I was able to participate and forge relationships in different settings that wouldn’t have been possible without these champions,” Awasom said.

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