Last month, NAWMBA Nationals joined the Nashville Professional Chapter for their THRIVE Conference, an all-day conference that focused on the chapter’s annual theme of The Whole Body. Our Manager of Operations sat down with Claire Lord Jarrett the President Elect of that chapter.
I got involved with NAWMBA Nashville when it first began in 2011. It was an important time in my life because I was in the middle of a career transition. I was transitioning both with my job and career, which is difficult after you’ve been out of the job market for awhile. Jennifer Way, a member of this chapter and now a dear connection through my NAWMBA network, helped me! She helped me revamp my resume and got me back into the interview mode after I had been out for so long. With her help in navigating career transitions, I decided on financial advising. Now I am an independent financial advisor providing comprehensive planning services specifically focused on single, divorced, and widowed women. I know that the industry is male dominated but I want to provide support from the perspective of someone who has been there. As a young professional woman, NAWMBA provides me with a network of support to help me professionally and personally. The thing that I specifically like about NAWMBA is that it has both local and national support. There are a lot of local organizations and women’s groups in Nashville, but not many of them have a national presence. With nationals you have that backbone of support, a national conference, and a network no matter where you go.
The Nashville chapter began in 2011 and has grown and changed over the years as Nashville has changed. The city of Nashville has grown tremendously so we are trying to change with the city right now and figure out where we fit. We’ve especially enjoyed meeting new people, specifically younger women who are earning their MBAs. It’s a wonderful opportunity to interact with them and keep our skills sharp. That’s especially true for someone like me who may not be going into an office environment every day and interacting with a lot of different people. I like networking with women of all ages -- learning from young MBAs who have all of the new information and keep you on your toes but also from the women who have been in the field for 20, 30 years and have been through the trenches. It has created an incredibly effective work environment as we learn how to work together and delegate tasks that make sense generationally.
At NAWMBA Nashville we focus alot on programming and building practical knowledge that you can implement today. Our goal is that once you leave a NAWMBA meeting over breakfast or lunch you can implement what you learned at your workplace immediately. THRIVE is an entire day of that programming where you can reevaluate where you are and how to improve. Working with women across industries, we utilize our network of diverse women that can help provide a wider scope both personally and professionally. If I need an event space or marketing ideas I have a network of women already built in that can help me out. I think that most people think about networking as they look for jobs but I’ve used it more to learn different skillsets and mentoring even if it’s not formal. How people interact with their contemporaries or asking other women how they got from point a to point b is critical and our chapter provides the opportunity to do that. Our core group is women with MBAs but we reach out beyond that as well. If you don’t have an MBA we welcome you to join us. We put on a monthly event and then we do two large events annually-the THRIVE conference that we are at today and our “Little Black Dress” event that we use to celebrate our birthday in August.
Our other focus besides programming is membership. Our membership has been pretty consistent for the last 6 years that we’ve been involved. We have a dedicated group of about 75 women which is great, but we do want to grow our membership and monthly participation. We want to take the lead from nationals and incorporate mentoring as part of building a pipeline of engaged membership. On the other end of the spectrum, once we get members they tend to stay! We’ve only had two past presidents and they support us in everything that we do. Kristina Bow, the current president and I also work together on everything to ensure a stable succession plan. Even the board that started our chapter continues to provide support. We all work to make these events happen. I’m very proud that the people who started it are still involved. It speaks to the character of the local chapter. When I moved from my hometown, someone told me ‘you’re going to love Nashville because it’s just an overgrown small town.’ It’s very urban and new blood is constantly being introduced, but it’s still very personable. Our chapter reflects our city--it has the same feel of growth and development while maintaining community and warmth that defines our NAWMBA family.