Connect Work Thrive: Reshaping Entrenprenuerial Growth

by Sheryl Chamberlain

Editor’s note:  Connect Work Thrive has Career Transition Conferences in March and May in Santa Clara, CA.

I believe that women represent a tremendous, untapped resource that has produced and will continue to yield huge returns for organizations and the communities they support. Through the power of women’s entrepreneurial activity, we create growth and prosperity while driving solutions for business and social problems. Women are a driving force of entrepreneurial growth and leading real, fundamental economic change that is reshaping the world.

Sheryl Chamberlain and Johanna Wise Connect Work Thrive Conference FounderThat’s why I said YES, when Johanna Wise invited me to be the morning keynote  at the 2013 inaugural Connect • Work • Thrive Conference: Refresh Your Career. She also asked me some great questions about hiring in today’s market (see interview below).

“The goal of the conference is to provide job seekers, who are returning to work after a career break or looking to make a career change, with practical tools and advice to better market themselves in the fast-changing Bay Area marketplace,”

–  Connect•Work•Thrive Founder Johanna Wise.

The conference target audience is men, women and employers.

I was joined by fellow keynote speaker Vivian Steir Rabin CoFounder iLaunch who said “The longer you’re away from work, the more you need to determine whether your interests and skills have changed.  For those who weren’t terribly happy in their jobs before they took a break, this is all the more important. For those people, the break is a gift.”

Vivian is the co-author of the acclaimed career reentry strategy book Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work and the co-founder of career reentry programming company iRelaunch.

iRelaunch’s signature product is the iRelaunch Return to Work Conference, which has attracted nearly 3,000 attendees across the US and in London.  After attending Vivian’s workshop it was clear Vivian inspired Johanna, me and all the lives she touches.

Brenda Bernstein AuthorFeedback from Brenda Bernstein, Founder and Senior Editor and event speaker, “My favorite moment of the day was in my Traversing the Resume Gap workshop. I put a section of one of the participant’s resumes up on the screen and asked for feedback from the group on how he could better leverage his experience as a “stay-at-home dad.”

The feedback and suggestions from the group were amazing! Spot-on and exactly what was needed. This exchange was a testament to the quality of the attendees. I hope they are able to continue to support each other into the future!”  Brenda Bernstein is the Author of the Best-Selling e-book, How to Write a KILLER LinkedIn Profile… and 18 Mistakes to Avoid

Sara Ellis ConantA participant at Sara Ellis Conant session titled Having it All: Combining a Meaningful Career with the Relationships You Desire wrote “ Your presentation really resonated with me as a working mother with a beautiful six and two year old, and constantly feeling torn between two worlds.  I am not usually a tactile/visual type of person but I am planning on filling a jar with my priorities (rocks and pebbles) and putting it in my home as a reminder to listen to my heart and also to bring me back when things get out of balance.”

Before speaking at the program Karen Burke, Director of Connect•Work•Thrive Public Relations interviewed me about my personal brand and qualities employers are looking for in their job candidates, why collaboration is key to a successful and fulfilling work, life, and the focus of my upcoming keynote entitled, “Burnish Your Brand – Using Your Best Talents More Often”.


CWT: What do you hope will be your presentation’s key takeaways for conference attendees?

Sheryl: There are many ways to be a successful leader in the world. By giving examples of leaders, some of whom are not well-known [have not had the spotlight focused on them] who achieved success by executing against their vision, I hope to inspire audience members that they too can make a career doing something they love. Essentially, burnishing, or polishing, your brand will provide the path for you to be more successful more often.  I also want to encourage attendees to use their success to help the next generation of leaders and innovators.

CWT: What is a “personal brand?” Are there any specific “brand” qualities employers are looking for when hiring candidates in today’s job market?

A: My brand is being an agent of change.  In every situation, I think creatively to develop new solutions to problems and, at the same time, engage leaders from every level in the organization as partners in the plan.  To do this, I combine business acumen and process to execute on strategic initiatives while fostering trust and building partnerships.  I routinely involve myself in multiple work streams while staying focused on my individual objectives and delivering results.  A big part of my brand is providing support and development opportunities for members of my team and my partners, and recognizing them for their contributions.

Today organizations are looking for individuals who are not afraid to challenge the status quo, but understand they must be part of the solution.  While it is important to have a social media footprint, it must be one that adds value to you and your organization. I would add, learning on the job is acceptable as long as you have positive energy and fresh ideas.

CWT: In the past, you have talked about the importance of collaboration and developing a community to achieve success in both work and personal life. Why is this important?

Kare AndersonA: My good friend Kare Anderson, Emmy Award Winning Journalist and Forbes columnist is committed to building a world that is better together, one of our shared passions.  When we live a life where we work together with and for each other in our work, personal interests, and social life, we will live better, more impactful lives.

Results can be achieved in three ways:

1) Use our best talents more often

2) Grow your circle of friendships

3) Be part of something larger than ourselves while recognizing the possibility and power of unintentional allies.

CWT:  As a successful corporate executive at EMC Corporation, what gets you most excited about coming to work every day?

A: I get up every day, knowing I have two jobs: 1. Identify new opportunities for creating local and global communities of leadership and innovation and 2. Lead Industry Standards and Open Source Strategy in my role within the Office of the CTO. Together these two passions give me the energy and drive to come to work for EMC every day.

CWT: Can you name some men and women who have inspired you throughout your career?

A: I am surrounded by amazing executives at EMC, VMware and VCE many of whom have held out their hand of support freely. They include Pat Gelsinger, VMware CEO; Frank Hauck, VCE President; Joel Schwartz, EMC SVP; Dan Campbell, EMC SVP; Helene Barnekow, EMC SVP.  But when I consider the work I have done in the community, there are two people that stand out:Rayona Sharpnack, Founder & President Institute for Women’s Leadership and Linda Alepin Founder and CEO Global Women’s Leadership Network and 2013 Eleanor Roosevelt Fund Award Winner  Both of these women have committed their lives to changing the world and have created leadership programs to train and support women to achieve ground breaking results.

Linda Alepin, Eleanor Roosevelt Award Winner

This past week I had an opportunity to reflect on the power of this conference, and impact on the employers and attendees.  Employers which included EMC Corporation, Stanford Graduate School, Bain & Company, Yale Silicon Valley Club, and Gleam had an opportunity to share successful back-to-work approaches in today’s job market while networking with on-site with local firms.

AEmployers attending Pam Fox Rollin's sessiondditionally, Pam Fox Rollin delivered a session called ”Onboarding Executives:  Grasping The Opportunity to More Senior Teams Forward”.  Pam an Executive Coach, IdeaShape regularly facilitates senior leadership team workshops shared tips from her book 42 Rules for Your New Leadership Role. Pam is seen here in the front row with some of the employers  who attended her session.

Conference founder Johanna Wise, met her goal to provide job seekers, who are returning to work after a career break with practical tools to better market themselves in the fast-changing Bay Area marketplace.  But most important attendees had an opportunity to:

  • Assess personal skills and determine applicable careers
  • Address the gap years on a resume and during job interviews
  • Determine necessary job search resources and how to leverage them to get a job
  • Maintain confidence during job search and dress for success
  • Identify and reach powerful job networks

I look forward to staying connected to this community led by Johanna Wise, while helping men and women get back into the game, finding employment, and refreshing their career. For more information on CWT Network, conferences and special pricing, visit:

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Sheryl Chamberlain is EMC Senior Director Corporate Office of the CTO, where she directs strategic initiatives and innovation. A hands-on F500 technology executive, her focus is cross-functional team leadership, business & partnership development, GTM strategies and executing tactics for growth and innovation. Sheryl reports on innovation and entrepreneurship from around the world.

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