eXXec 2021 Recap of SWE’s Executive Leadership Program

SWE's’ Executive Leadership Program, eXXec, seeks to provide a comprehensive, holistic approach for participants that help develop and hone skills to increase effectiveness and lead in engineering and technology sectors.

Article By: Sonya Rahmani, Chief Scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the Society of Women Engineers’ Executive Leadership Program, eXXec, a three- and half–day event hosted in Chicago, IL.

The program seeks to provide a comprehensive holistic approach for participants that help develop and hone skills to increase effectiveness and lead in engineering and technology sectors. As a female technical leader, I was really excited about the opportunity to participate in this program! I had been trying to find a way to attend in the past and was fortunate enough to get approval this year. The experience was all I had hoped for and more! In attendance was an incredible cadre of technical executives from across broader DoD and industry sectors. SWE hosted an interactive series of workshops centered around three key leadership pillars (Leading Self, Leading People and Leading Change) and provided access to three Hogan leadership assessments as well as a post-event coaching and feedback session.

From left to right: Kimberly Caldwell, Sonya Rahmani, Kelly Brinkley, Sue Schwartz, Jennifer Zoeller, Silvia Karlsson, Dayna Johnson, and Martine Stillman.
See additional photos from the event.

I appreciated the fact that the instructors tailored the workshops for engineers with quantitative data and toolkits provided to support application in the real world. It was quite an introspective experience sifting through the massive amounts of quantitative data from the three separate Hogan assessments. This provided an opportunity for some deep self-reflection on “what makes me tick” including insight on my strengths, challenges and values. The follow on one-on-one Hogan coaching session was also really helpful.

Perhaps most surprising were the common challenges discussed amongst the technical leaders in driving innovation and change across market sectors. The workshops encouraged cross dialogue, and each day we split into different teams to help share experiences as well as learn from others.

SWE did a phenomenal job ensuring a comfortable vibe. Instructors facilitated insightful, candid discussions across many topic areas spanning the gamut of work-life balance, diversity and inclusion, and high performance motivation tactics.  SWE provided breakfast, snacks and lunch. They also made time to unwind through Morning Wellness Yoga and a trip aboard the Chicago River Dinner Cruise. See picture below.

SWE eXXec Chicago
From left to right: Dayna Johnson, Jennifer Zoeller, Sue Schwartz, Kelly Brinkley, Martine Stillman, Silvia Karlsson, Kimberly Caldwell, Sonya Rahmani. See additional photos from the event.

Even the hotel was remarkable! SWE hosted the event at EMC2, part of the Autograph Hotel Collection -the hotel’s tagline is “at the intersection of art & science” and their décor creatively reinforces it. Fun fact, robotic attendants Cleo and Leo were a neat experience. I made sure to get a delivery to my room to experience that firsthand.  Every morning we ate breakfast in a room that paid homage to Emmy Noether’s and her contributions to the field of mathematics – her theorem is depicted as a series of chalkboard drawings. If you haven’t heard of her, Google her!

If you are interested in attending next year, contact SWE at Valerie Bland, Director Content and Programs at SWE for more information!

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