I am Ethnie Miller Simpson, a 2011 FORTUNE/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Partnership mentee and co-business owner of BRANDZ Avenue a marketing and branding company based in Kingston, Jamaica. While in New York, I am shadowing top PR executive Julie Winskie, global president, clients at Porter Novelli as a part of the program, and what can I say? “My Porter Novelli experience has been fantastic so far!!!” My mind has been stretched by Senior Partner, Global Director, Business Strategy Michael Ramah’s mind mapping which I have not done in soooo many years and I am beginning to see how I can adjust aspects of my own company’s strategic framework and direction (the Insights & Big It Up Sessions were phenomenal!) Very often we have ideas that we simply need to “bounce off” someone else and thanks to EVP and Director Business Development, Chris Lynch, I have validated a new business idea I have been toying with.
It did not stop there as Mike Scheiner, EVP, creative director of integrated branding & digital, later inspired me to streamline my processes using a brand ecosystem as a guide; it is going to be so much easier to walk into a client meeting now. Lots learned and this was only the first three days and more to share, but first allow me to tell you a bit about the structure of the program.
The FORTUNE/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Partnership is a mentoring program for emerging women leaders from around the world, some of whom are business owners, involved in politics or human rights. It is offered through the Office of Citizen Exchanges the U.S. Department of State In Washington, D.C. in collaboration with Vital Voices Global Partnership, the preeminent non-governmental organization (NGO) that identifies, trains and empowers emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs around the globe, enabling them to create a better world for us all. Started in 2006, this program has placed 148 women from 41 countries and the West Bank and Gaza in mentoring programs with some of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women leaders.
The program consists of a four-day orientation and leadership and skills training in Washington, D.C., an approximately two-week mentorship assignment, and a two-day communications training and debriefing in New York City. The D.C. program included meetings with U.S. government officials, academics, and representatives of business associations . We visited the U.S. State Department as well as the White House and met with previous mentors and businesswomen in the D.C. area. Following the D.C. orientation. We all traveled to the companies we were assigned, which for me was Porter Novelli. Here I have met a fantastic group of professionals beginning with my mentor Julie Winskie. I have the opportunity to shadow Julie as well as meet and learn from other Porter Novelli team members and engage in activities specifically designed by the company to meet my professional and leadership needs and interests. The final component will be a two-day debriefing in New York City, where participants will receive communication training, evaluate their mentorship experiences and develop follow-up activities.
The lessons learned so far have been many, but if I were to list two things I hope to take back to my reality in Jamaica, they would be how to be a more informed leader with stories to share and how to build a stronger, more robust and socially responsible business that generates employment for others.