Last week, Wichita Business Journal hosted the Ignite ICT Women’s Conference at MarkArts, and it was indeed an event for the books.
Upon walking into the Ignite ICT venue, I was overcome by positivity and anticipation. The decor was swanky and dare I say, “highly-Instagrammable.” The attendees were all dressed to the nines, as if everyone had woken up that morning with the same memo to “dress classy.” The familiar faces of influential women from different realms of the Wichita business community filled the room. There was an overwhelming presence of empowerment and knowledge electrifying the scene. I knew it was going to be a phenomenal day, and I could not wait to take the stage for the social media panel later that morning and proudly represent Greteman Group.
The day began with an opening keynote from United WE President and CEO Wendy Doyle. Doyle spoke to the fact that Kansas women only consist of 8% of all CEO positions across the state. In light of how under-represented women are in leadership roles, she challenged Kansas women to be louder and to “establish their voices at the table.” To conclude her session, Doyle encouraged everyone in the room to stand up and give someone else in the room a shout out. This request ignited an outstanding response.
The social media panel took the stage shortly after. I had the honor of sharing the stage with Kacie Faye Edwards of Steven Enterprises, Joan Rapp of The Specialist Group, and Annika Wooten of Lead for America. We conjured a powerful conversation around utilizing social media to advance one’s career. Topics of the discussion ranged from how to know what to share, how to know when to post, using LinkedIn to recruit and to find jobs, and even when to use TikTok and Instagram Reels. The theme of the discussion was to stay authentic, consistent, and deliberate with every post.
HR leaders from across the city commanded Ignite ICT participants to stay humble and focused in the workplace. Jennifer Blundon of Koch Industries, Kara Hunt of Delta Dental, Alana McNary, and Jessica Zacharias of Meritrust Credit Union echoed the messaging of the social media panel by reminding everyone to “be their authentic selves.” Additional tips suggested that career women need to surround themselves with people who will give honest feedback at all times, and to not be afraid to make a voice for themselves. Kara Hunt added that “Having someone fighting for you when you’re not in the room is extremely helpful.”
The day concluded with panelists Angela Green of Wichita Mom, Kaye Monk Morgan of Kansas Leadership Center, Rachel Thomas of Thomas Gray Interiors and Amy Williams of Spirit AeroSystems discussing “the new normal.” It was quickly noted that the ability for companies to function remotely has collectively become a “new normal” following the pandemic. Spirit AeroSystems was somewhat of an outlier to this point, but Williams admitted that even they have started recognizing more flexible scheduling. “Not everything works for everybody,” Williams added. Flexibility and growth opportunity were recognized as the two most-asked-for things by women in the workplace in 2022.