I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect—and was more than pleasantly surprised!
Even before arriving, after joining WIN and registering for the conference, I received a personal email from a WIN member warmly welcoming me to WIN and offering assistance with any conference questions. This was to set the tone for my experience.
Day 1: Monday, May 5th
The meeting kicked off on an uncharacteristically blustery day (for San Diego, anyway). I received another warm welcome at the registration desk, and was super stoked to unwrap a stylish black pashmina from my welcome packet—it certainly came in handy!
As I walked into the conference room and looked around for a seat, I paused and smiled as I realized that it was a room full of women (well, there were a few men). I settled in next to friendly faces as the emcee, Michelle Sullivan, welcomed a record number of 178 conference attendees.
“When I think about why I get so excited about WIN, for me it is all about camaraderie—camaraderie is the spirit of WIN.” Sullivan then introduced the theme of the conference by inviting attendees to “Power Up!”
Next, 2013-2014 WIN Board of Directors chairwoman Margaret Knell recognized WIN achievements over the past year, the 2014 WIN Conference sponsors, as well as committee chairs, co-chairs, and other members. In addition, she presented Denise Caspersen and Ruth Weniger with the 2014 WIN Cornerstone Award, which is awarded to individuals on the WIN Board of Directors who exemplify the values and vision of WIN.
Laurie Cusic, senior facilitator for Brody Professional Development, then presented “Bridging the Generational Gap,” which addressed the need to understand generational differences in a workplace with four distinct generations—traditionalists, baby boomers, generation Xers, and millennials (or generation Yers)—and attendees participated in a related networking event.
My overall first impression was that there was great energy in the room, and, unlike a lot of other conferences, everyone seemed genuinely excited—and “powered up”—to be there, friendly, supportive, and proud.
This feeling was solidified during the welcome dinner at Paradise Cove, where attendees mingled with old friends and new over a luau-themed menu, followed by roasting marshmallows in a bonfire to make s’mores.
Day 2: Tuesday, May 6th
Attendees started day two with the annual WIN Scholarship Walk to raise funds for the WIN Scholarships.
Following a continental breakfast, charismatic keynote speaker Dr. Verna Cornelia Price, CEO of The Power of People Consulting Group and author of “The Power of People: Four Kinds of People Who Can Change Your Life,” tapped into the WIN “Power Up!” theme with her message of “The Power of You!” Dr. Price explained that you are born with power; no one has more power than you; no one can take your power (but you can give it away); and your power multiplies when you use it. She also talked about the four types of powerful people: adders, subtractors, multipliers, and dividers.
Next up, the engaging Colette Carlson, founder of “Speak Your Truth”, talked about “The Hard, Cold Truth—Working Hard Isn’t Working,” including how to communicate successes, cultivate connections, and develop strategic relationships.
After lunch, attendees went to one of three workshops about technology (“Mastering the Muck of Your Technology” by Kathi Burns), negotiation skills (“Truth About Negotiation: A$k and You Shall Succeed” by Colette Carlson), or sustainability (“The Green Revolution” by Mike LeVasseur).
The day ended with the WIN Annual Membership meeting, which provided the 2014 Report to the Industry including reports from the Communications, Membership, Finance, Scholarship, Nominating, and Governance committees. In addition, the WIN Board of Directors, new WIN Executive Committee, and WIN Scholarship winners in attendance were recognized.
The evening festivities started with a cocktail reception, followed by the annual WIN Gala and Most Influential Women Ceremony. After dinner, WIN colleagues and friends recognized and introduced the honorees: Frederica Carter, president of F. Carter Events, LLC (former communications manager at AkzoNobel); Jordan Hendler, executive director of the Washington Metropolitan Autobody Association; and Leanne Jefferies, director of Collision Programs for AIA Canada. And last but not least, dessert was served!
Day 3: Wednesday, May 7th
After a continental breakfast, John Kett, president and CEO of Insurance Auto Auctions (IAA), presented “The Increasingly Interconnected APD System,” covering the operational and technological forecast for IAA and key information about the direction of the industry.
Following the break, Jane Hylen, senior vice president of North Central Operations Enterprise Holdings, presented “Keys to Success” within the automotive industry.
Tracy Holberry from Sherwin-Williams presented the 2014 Scholarship recipients in attendance, Stephanie Baker and Suzanna Hernandez, with a certificate for tuition and travel-related expenses paid in full for any automotive training course at a Sherwin Williams Training Center of their choice.
Margaret Knell closed the conference with a summary of the events and officially passed the torch to Denise Caspersen, newly-elected chairwoman of the WIN Board of Directors.
If you’re a woman in the collision repair industry, I highly recommend that you join WIN and attend the 2015 WIN Annual Education Conference.
If you’re already a WIN member, WIN asks that you please consider joining a committee as WIN is entirely volunteer-based. Sign in and click on the Committee description to find full descriptions and contact information.
If you missed the 2014 conference but will be attending the 2014 NACE/CARS Expo and Conference, stop by the WIN booth.