A big deal: Global Studies students at Womensphere Conference, New York

Monash students in Central Park, NY
Monash Bachelor of Global Studies students Constanza Núñez Malebrán and Jessica Kensey

Monash Bachelor of Global Studies students, Jessica Kensey and Constanza Núñez Malebrán, were excited when they knew they would be travelling to New York in early March 2016 for the Womensphere Emerging Leaders Global Summit, but nothing prepared them for how friendly it would be, and how the spirit of positive thinking would give them new energy to pursue their studies and ideas.

The Womensphere Emerging Leaders Global Summit (World Trade Centre, March 3-5, 2016) seeks to empower “the next generation of women leaders and innovators” and “to advance women in leadership and innovation, to envision solutions to humanity’s greatest challenges, and to collaborate in creating the future.”

For the two Monash students it was a first to be mixing with a group of such high profile business leaders, politicians, entrepreneurs, academics, philanthropists, artists and musicians – but they soon felt welcome.

Constanza describing the atmosphere as ‘homely’. “It wasn’t that type of conference where the speakers only go to make their speeches,” said Constanza, “You could even have lunch with them afterwards, and they were very open to new ideas and perspectives.”

Jessica agreed, “Someone would just come and sit with you and start talking, and after a while you realise they are someone who was a big deal. I just loved the smart, amazing woman who we got to hang out with!“

Womensphere delegates
Womensphere delegates

Jessica and Constanza were inspired by the ‘get up and go’ of speakers who talked about the importance of not waiting for change, and of having the courage to go ahead and create it for yourself and others.

Jessica explained “One of the speakers told us she introduced herself to the CEO of a major consulting firm and said ‘look, I want to do this job, but you don’t have it yet, so I’ve created the job description for you’ … and they gave her the job!”

The second day of the summit there was focused on leadership and innovation, and Cindy Pace, Global Leadership & Diversity Leader at Metlife, talked about the four pillars of success: what you are rooted in; what the world needs; what you can get paid for; and what you are good at.

Jessica found this particularly interesting because she realised that in the past she had a tendency to think that if she was doing good work, then it probably meant she wouldn’t get paid for it. She can now feel her thinking change towards expecting to be able to do both.

“I can see now that I can create new possibilities for myself, and that I will have the skills through my studies to see a need, and work out how to fix it,” said Jessica.

Constanza Malebrán and Jessica Kensey at the Womenshpere Summit
Jessica Kensey and Constanza Núñez Malebrán at the Womensphere Summit

One of Constanza’s favourite speakers was Jacques-Philippe Piverger, co-founder of MPOWERD Inc, and one of the few men at the summit. Piverger used the analogy of the way the world works being like a bird, one wing corresponding to women and the other to men, so for the bird to fly properly, both wings need to be working, together.

“It made me think that gender equality is not just women’s business, it’s everyone’s and that we have reached  a time in where we need to include men to the conversation, and having summits and organizations like Womensphere it’s a great place to start,” said Constanza.

Jessica Kensey in Times Square.
Jessica Kensey in Times Square.

Jessica and Constanza also found time for some sight-seeing in New York, visiting Central Park, Times Square and the Rockefeller Centre, and it even snowed whilst they were there, to the delight of both students.

Jessica and Constanza will share their experiences and insights in the form of a presentation to their fellow Bachelor of Global Studies students.

Jessica and Constanza attended the Womensphere Emerging Leaders Global Summit with some financial assistance from the Faculty of Arts.

Find out more