The Simmons Leadership Conference 2017

The Simmons Leadership Conference was held on April 13, 2017 in  Boston and afterwards we caught up with three of the speakers on career topics. Josh Levs, award-winning broadcaster and journalist, and Barbara Fedida, Senior Vice President for Talent and Business, ABC News, The Walt Disney Company all shared their stories around leading with purpose, how passion matters and what insights on leadership they have learned.


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The Wage Gap is Real

Josh Levs gave a presentation at the conference called “Gender Equity: Leveling the Playing Field.” Josh says that he has witnessed first-hand the discrepancies of gender-based office policies that obstruct the development of any workplace. As a father and husband, shortly after his wife delivered, he was not approved by his employer at the time, to take time off to care for his child and wife. It became a case he took to court, and won. Josh is a pioneer in advocating for both women and men to have paid parental time off, and for women to have equal pay. Josh states, 

“The wage-gap is real. And ultimately, it also hurts men because their wives are under paid, and families need money.”

As a former fact-checker journalist, Josh provides evidence in his book, “All in,” on why men need to be actively involved in the conversation of pursuing equality for women. He is also active on endorsing the Family Act; funded through employee-paid payroll taxes and administered through their respective disability programs. Functioning as an insurance coverage, it is able to fund time off during Parental/Family leave.

Josh is not only passionate about what he does, he’s genuine and joyful about it!

Nurturing Talent

Barbara Fedida, Head of Talent and Business at ABC News, The Walt Disney Company who sat on the morning panel themed “Leading with Purpose”, commented on the importance of mentoring. She shares:

“There’s no secret sauce or formula to identifying talent, or at least not one that I can sum up in a few sentences. I think all the great journalists of our time share some common traits – passion, hard work, insatiable curiosity, a feeling that good is never good enough, drive, and, perhaps most importantly, a feeling that nothing is impossible.”

Barbara believes that the role of the mentor and boss is key because if you as a mentor can nurture these traits, she states, “Together you can be unstoppable.”

When asked what role a mentor has in nurturing talent, she refers to her own experience,

“I have always felt that I have done my best work when my bosses or mentors (and I have been blessed to have had some of the best in the business) encouraged me, had my back and made me feel like together we could conquer the world.”

And when it comes to keeping a team engaged and motivated, Barbara says, “Give people credit for their ideas and tell the bosses of their contributions. In fact, don’t just tell them – scream it from the rooftops.”

Whether a famous actress or an accomplished business leader, the speakers at the conference have all had to overcome doors closed in their faces, negative thinking and other obstacles. But they were driven by a purpose larger than themselves. They persevered. They blazed trails for others. They openly shared their experiences, to motivate and inspire us and we look forward to attending the 2018 conference scheduled for April 5 in Boston, MA.