The working world is changing — as the pandemic enters its third year, labor shortages, increased remote work and new calls for greater diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace are transforming organizations of all sizes. For many, this is a time of reflection on how individual and organizational values align. In this year’s Professionals Week, Feb. 28-March 4, participants were invited to “rethink their relationship with work” and consider how their professional lives fit into this brave new world. Approximately 600 alumni, parents, students and other members of the W&M community registered for events during the week, which ranged from panel discussions with experts to interactive workshops to networking hours. All programming was virtual this year to allow members of the W&M community worldwide to participate.
On March 1, HR leaders in our community shared their insights in the panel discussion “The Great Resignation: Competing for Talent in a Changing World,” moderated by Latoya Asia J.D. ’09, director of talent acquisition and workforce planning at Dominion Energy. Clem Cheng ’86, senior vice president of human resources at Comcast, Christa Hokenson ’93, chief human resources officer at Strategic Education Inc., Chris Lee, chief human resources officer at William & Mary, and Holly Tyson ’93, chief people officer at Cushman & Wakefield, discussed how their industries were affected by labor shortages and the rise of remote work. They shared strategies for leading with empathy during this time and how to intentionally create workplace culture in a hybrid environment.
The panel on March 3, “Building Community in the Workplace” was another powerhouse, with panelists Erika Moritsugu ’94 and Rita Sampson ’89, both senior executives in the federal government, BOV member Doug Bunch ’02, J.D. ’06, partner at Cohen Milstein and chairman of Global Playground, Nina Cavazos ’13, director of corporate relations at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, and Amandeep Sidhu ’00, partner at Winston & Strawn and co-founder of the Sikh Coalition. They shared personal stories about what it meant to bring their full and authentic selves to their workplaces, including their intersectional identities where race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, family situation and other identities overlap. They also discussed what it means to be an ally to others and how mentorship and simple conversations with others can open new doors.
Two online networking sessions provided a venue for participants to make new connections and discuss the topics of the week: one especially for recent graduates, current students and young professionals, and one for the entire W&M community to chat in a casual setting.
“Careers is one of the four overarching initiatives of the university’s new Vision 2026 strategic plan, and programs like Professionals Week fit perfectly into its goals of preparing our students and alumni not just for their first jobs, but all the professional opportunities they will pursue throughout their lives,” says Marilyn W. Midyette ’75, chief executive officer of the W&M Alumni Association. “This week is just one of the many programs and resources we offer throughout the year to strengthen and support the W&M network worldwide.”
To see all the W&M Alumni Association’s career and professional development offerings, visit wmalumni.com/career-networking.