The Government and NGO Panel at the Dyson Symposium on Women in Leadership asked four successful businesswomen to discuss what they have learned from taking the “road less traveled”, choosing to enter the world of non-profits over the corporate sector.
Jonelle Bradshaw (’96), senior director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at Stonybrook University, underlined the importance of integrity and how developing strong core values will always lead you in the right direction – no matter what industry you are in. It is not a debate of private vs. public sector, but throughout her career her values have consistently lead her back to the non-profit world of fundraising. Jonelle also took the opportunity to address the power of money; while money can corrupt, it is a principle motivator and it is important to understand the power of money, in addition to the power of power.
Jonelle’s Advice to Her 21 Year-Old Self:
- Be who you are, be patient, cherish Cornell. Cornell is a life-long resource.
Paula Peter (’77), Co-Founder of the Ithaca Institute and President of The Solstice Group, Inc., also highlighted the importance of values and how people who enter non-profits are typically driven by strong morals. Throughout her experiences working in the private sector, Paula has had the privilege of working with people who are driven to make a difference and authentic in their beliefs. She also mentioned that there are few post-grad jobs that will provide you with more skill development than being the CEO of a small non-profit organization. The diverse skill-set gained from starting off in a non-profit can take you anywhere.
Paula’s Advice to Her 21 Year-Old Self:
- Challenge the stories that you have heard and tell about yourself. Every year that you are alive you can throw out the old story about yourself and start a new one.
- When you feel stuck and don’t know what to do next, there are always 16 options (and at least three will be great).
- Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive.
Yve-Car Momperousse (’14, expected), founder and CEO of Kreyol Essence, has been guided by the question, “How do I empower those whose voices might not be heard?” ever since. No matter what sector you choose to operate within, there will always be the opportunity to be that voice. She noted that many people often choose to enter the corporate world first, but ultimately find non-profits to be more meaningful. Her company is based on social entrepreneurship and she stated that it is a relief to work in a field where revenue is not the only driver. “Having it all” does not have to mean climbing to the top of the corporate ladder–it can, but make sure that you define what “all” means to you.
Yve-Car’s Advice to her 21Year-Old Self:
- Work smarter, not harder. Although you might want to do it all, you do not need to do it alone; utilize your networks, talk with others before jumping in.
- Ignorance and confidence are the keys to success. Don’t limit or second-guess yourself–just go for it.
Shelly Porges (’77), National Finance Co-Chair for Ready for Hillary, pointed out that advantages and disadvantages [of the private vs. public sector] are relative to what you want and what your skills are. Her attraction to NGOs stems from her need to unite mission-driven strategy with getting meaningful, impactful, and tangible results. In times of doubt, ask yourself: “Why am I here anyways?” and “What motivates me?” Particularly in non-profit organizations, is important to remember that you are working towards a mission that is bigger than yourself.
Shelly’s Advice to Her 21 Year-Old Self:
- Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Broaden your vision, you don’t know everything–there is a world of opportunity in any industry so be open to it.
- What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Believe in yourself, know your value.
Check out the full panel conversation here!