The Power of Collaboration
The Boardroom focuses on women's advancement
CLAIRE POWELL (pictured below) and JENNIFER MANOCCHIO (above) have stepped beyond their full-time executive roles as communications director at BAE Systems, Inc. and president of Sweeney marketing, respectively, to lead a mission to advance women to higher levels of leadership.
As the co-founders of The Boardroom, they are voluntarily leading the organization, which is focused on developing networks and training to help advance women. Launched this past September, The Boardroom offers women both a platform to tell their stories, inspiring them to think bigger about opportunities, and offering a structure to access C-suite leaders around the globe through on-demand and in-person programming.
Powell’s experience is the real impetus behind The Boardroom. Always wanting to be in a profession where she would find meaning, Powell has worked in many industries including retail, banking, and defense.
“Throughout my career journey, I often felt that I didn’t have an equal seat at the table. I realized that the solution was within myself, and specifically how I advocated for both the mission and the value that I added to the team environment. This was both an inward and outward fight, simultaneously working to develop and mature my own voice and self-confidence and to overcome barriers in how others perceived my value. My success was due in great part to the many women and men who coached me,” recalls Powell who reflects on the value of strong networks and mentorship.
Powell, who met Manocchio while working together on communications campaigns, contacted Manocchio with her idea to help other women obtain the necessary resources to advance their careers.
“I knew I couldn’t do this alone. I needed the power of Jen who is an industry leader and thoughtful strategist,” says Powell.
Manocchio, who has two daughters, age ten and seven, was immediately on board. “I want a better place for my daughters when they enter the workplace. And there is no one else I would jump in that boat with than Claire. She is smart, innovative, and a go-getter. We knew that together our power and influence would be more effective and complete,” says Manocchio.
Working together for nearly seven months, they mapped out a platform and a brand, and declared a bold mission for The Boardroom: Advancing women to higher levels of leadership.
“The Boardroom is free and inclusive. That’s key. We exist for any career level, any background, and any industry including corporate, academia, nonprofit, and government. The Boardroom is relevant for anyone and everyone,” Manocchio explains.
The Boardroom already has more than 400 members and is growing at top organizations across the country and internationally. While many of the members are mid-level managers, the event attendees range from students to CEOs, all who are attracted by the real expertise behind The Boardroom. “It’s the professional experts who are making every element of our platform strong,” says Powell. “We spend time progressing leaders to find their voice through cycles of trust. We are helping women reach their next level of career growth.”
Powell stressed that free does not mean an absence of quality. “We are not afraid to talk about topics that are challenging in nature, like diversity and diverse thinking,” she says.
The two women believe The Boardroom matters now more than ever. Since the pandemic, the largest number of women are dropping out of the workforce. “That trend is continuing, creating a shortage of women at all levels, especially in the C-suite. And corporate boards are recognizing the need for the power and influence that women bring to drive performance,” says Manocchio.
Almost every conversation with these two leaders comes back to the power of collaboration.
“Our name and logo are critical,” says Powell. “Every color, every pen stroke is core to our values. It’s the power of & (or ampersand): of the two of us together. And the power of all who believe in what we are doing.”
“We are humbled by the support we have received in our first year. We plan to continue to build our organization and touch as many women and men across the globe as we can. It’s important that men sponsor women in workforce as well,” adds Manocchio.
Powell concludes, “Each new day, we try to give the most we can to help other women rise. Even one person is a huge win.”
The next Boardroom session will be on February 28 at noon providing the opportunity for women to meet on an intimate level to build their networks. Find out more about The Boardroom on its website and on LinkedIn.
To view more of photographer Aris Harding’s work, go to arisharding.com.
Want more WILMA? Click here to sign up for our WILMA newsletters and announcements.