After recent conventions in San Diego and Louisville, the National Association of Women Business Owners is holding its 2013 meeting in Miami. Beginning Oct. 3, as many as 500 women executives from across the country and outside it will gather for sessions on leadership and entrepreneurship training, business and funding strategies and expert presentations. Slated speakers include owners and executives in banking, real estate, communications, technology and design.
As president of NAWBO’s Miami chapter, Anne Freedman, owner of SpeakOut Inc, a consultancy, has been integrally involved in planning. We emailed her to find out more about her business, the local NAWBO chapter and the upcoming national meeting.
Q: What is NAWBO, and what does it do?
NAWBO was one of the first groups established that is entirely devoted to advancing the success of women entrepreneurs and now has about 70 chapters in the U.S. with international affiliations as well; our local chapter has about 40 members. The organization seeks to propel women entrepreneurs into economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide through training, building strategic alliances, shaping the business culture and transforming public policy. We help our members expand their horizons through educational and networking events specifically geared to their needs and interests as business owners. We provide exposure with our local website: www.nawbomiami.org and the national site, www.nawbo.org.
Q: NAWBO is holding its annual conference here this year. Why Miami? How many people are expected, and what kinds of people will they be?
The national planners thought Miami would be a totally different kind of experience from the past two years, given Miami’s international flavor. Who doesn’t want to come to Miami! We’re expecting about 400 to 500 participants from all over the U.S. and from other countries as well. In Florida, the other NAWBO chapters include Fort Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Orlando and Lakeland, and all are sending members as well.
The NAWBO Women’s Business Conference is designed for business owners but open to men and women, regardless of their position. Many of the sponsors are also sending their high-level executives to speak on and moderate panels, and to share their expertise with us. For example, UPS is one of our big sponsors and they’re speaking on international panels and donating flip flops for our opening night reception at Nikki Beach Club.
Q: NAWBO is oriented toward women business owners, not women managers. Still, we’ll ask: there’s a perception that South Florida isn’t as fertile a place for developing senior women managers as some other parts of the country. Do you think that is true? Why or why not?
I believe the issues of management expertise and how it’s developed — or not — tie into the reality that we don’t have as many large corporations as compared to other cities. In most forward-thinking and successful companies, investment in management training is a priority. Especially since the economic decline starting in 2008, we haven’t seen much of this kind of investment happening locally in the larger businesses here, for either men or women. Lately, there does seem to be a small resurgence of commitment to management development and I certainly hope that women will get their fair share of this type of education, too. The universities offer some management courses and leadership programs, and that’s all good, but it’s not the same as on-the-job mentoring, in-house training, and long-term commitment to developing senior managers.