A local business owner and two highly successful Mount Saint Mary College alumnae returned to their alma mater earlier this month to share their professional experience with the next generation of students.
The Women’s Leadership Forum, sponsored by the college’s Office of Alumni Engagement, featured a panel discussion with Maxine Lindsay-Shillingford ’98, US Army veteran and director of Nursing for Perioperative Service at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center; Kathryn Rose ’91, founder and chief executive officer of getWise; and Grace Sanchez, owner of Field Trip (on Liberty Street in Newburgh) and founder of The Grace Group.
The three discussed how they followed in the footsteps of the Dominican Sisters – the women who founded the Mount in 1959 – and made their mark with service, hard work, and a commitment to their community.
The event kicked off with an introduction by Nikki Khurana-Baugh, vice president for Advancement. The panel was moderated by Sr. Catherine Walsh, OP, a Dominican Sister and Mount professor emerita of Communications.
“We were founded by women,” said Sr. Walsh. “I want to welcome you on behalf of the college, but also on behalf of the Dominican Sisters.”
Lindsay-Shillingford, who was a Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) student during her time at the college, credited much of her success to the hands-on, real-world learning she received at the Mount.
“The leadership experience I had at the Mount through the co-op program was invaluable,” she noted. “Had I not had that foundational experience as a Nursing student, I would not have been able to be thrust into the leadership position I have today.”
Rose noted that leadership skills go beyond managing your team’s workload. Being able to connect on a human level with employees will help to foster a productive work environment.
“The number one business skill is empathy,” she said. “If you can really put yourself in someone else’s shoes and really be there and understand what someone else needs, that is the most important.”
For women trying to get a seat at the table in male-dominated businesses, the panelists agreed that confidence was important. For example, if a job calls for 10 years of experience and you’ve only got seven or eight, apply anyway, they suggested. Companies care more about what a candidate can do for them in practice than how they look on paper, said Rose.
Sanchez added, “If all else fails, make your own table. Create a place where you get to invite people to come. [For example] we have a lot of women owners here on Liberty Street in Newburgh.”