By Pam Chvotkin, Special to PGATOUR.com
The AT&T National goes beyond in-game play this week. Inaugural events added to tournament week have already started off on the right foot. Monday noted the newest addition to AT&T National's tournament week with a jam-packed schedule for an Executive Women's Day presented by Astellas.
The day-long forum focused on career building, networking and touched on educating women on health and wellness issues within the sport of golf and within their own business environment. After a breakfast buffet at Congressional Country Club's clubhouse dining space, local business and community leaders spoke about their own experiences on how they were inspired and engaged with attendees and encouraged them to pursue their goals in their personal and professional lives.
The panel began with moderator Rebecca Cooper Dupin (@ABC7Rebecca), ABC 7 News/WJLA-TV anchor of Washington Business Report with a warm welcome, cheering the celebration of women.
The discussion began with panelist Hilary Fordwich, Senior Vice President of AOC Key Solutions, serving as the host of Government Contracting Weekly, dedicated to the winning of government contracts. Fordwich, a dedicated golfer, encouraged women to embrace the sport, if they have not already done so. She suggested taking lessons from a PGA professional, citing that as the number one thing she would have done differently when first introduced to the sport. She also engaged the audience in a poll, asking what the two most important things her cardiologist told her that prolongs health and longevity: exercise and hydration; to most, a surprise. The next speaker, MG N. Lee S. Price impressed attendees before even stepping foot on stage. As the United States Army's first female PEO (Program Executive Officer), her official title, PEO, C3T (Command, Control, Communications -Tactical), allows her to guide a workforce of more than 1,600 personnel that executes an annual budget of over three billion dollars. She promoted the "You can do it, be the best you can be, whether male or female," attitude of achieving her goals.
After questions from the audience, she noted that she learned more from her failings in life than her successes and adds that the key takeaway is to keep growing from those experiences. Price credited her family and friends as her strongest support system. Next on the panel was Dr. Cheryl Burgess, Medical Director at the center for Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery. She is recognized for her advanced technology in non-evasive aesthetic procedures. She began by encouraging women to get involved locally in professional groups that support women in business to help promote networking and relationship building. An attendee asked advice for women ages 30 and older on how to keep skin radiant. Burgess mentioned using sunscreen throughout the year and to educate oneself on sun safety and protection, especially for those who enjoy being outdoors. The final panelist was Kay Kapoor, President of AT&T Federal. Overseeing a team of 4,000 professionals whose focus is on delivering customized information technology and professional service solutions to the Federal Government. She suggests women "lead with empathy" and seek out unique ways to find energy in order to do your best work.
As the panel wrapped, the attendees took a behind-the-scenes tour of the AT&T National at Congressional. The tour began at the Grey Goose 19th Hole Lounge where Tiger Woods Foundation Vice President of Strategic Partnerships Michele Kim discussed corporate sponsorships and different ways to entertain business clients with the help of local golf tournaments. The lounge is open to all sponsors of the tournament. Next stop was the We Salute Our Heroes Wall presented by PenFed, allowing fans to write their own personal thank you messages to military troops. The next stop took a tour of the tournament's Media Center, a hub for all credentialed journalists, photographers and PGA TOUR and Tiger Woods Foundation staff. Broadcasts, interviews and press conferences as well as tournament standings are located there. Tiger Woods Foundation Public Relations Manager Rachel Rees escorted attendees around the facility, the space converted from Congressional's tennis courts to accommodate around 500 members of the press throughout the week.
The next stop, and probably the most interesting portion of the tour was the Shot Link truck. On average, PGA TOUR tournaments have around 1,400 volunteers. About 400 of those volunteers work on shot link, including walking scorers and laser shot operators. What is unique about Shot Link is that all information is transmitted wirelessly where an intranet is created on the course. Around 100-150 computers are given out that interface with volunteers. This information then goes back to PGA TOUR Headquarters in Ponte Vedra, Fla., archived, and then sent out through PGATOUR.com. The entire process, takes about five to 10 seconds to transmit. Shot Link records and distributes roughly 400 statistics throughout the tournament. The production trucks are at every PGA TOUR event, except the majors and has anywhere from seven to 13 people working in the trucks themselves, including four people up front, network administrators and technology staff out in the field. Retention rate from year to year is strong, and Shot Link staff strives on accuracy. Shot Link has been around since 2001.
The last stop was a trip to the Congressional Country Club’s golf shop, which has been named America's 100 Best Golf Shops for 16 years in a row. Normally, hats are the best seller for the shop, but what is the best-seller during tournament week? Hands down, the Tiger Woods Nike shirts, according to the store manager.
After the tour, Merrill Lynch sponsored lunch and spokeswoman Carol Nevins reiterates one of the themes of the day: "We are better when we are together!"
Following lunch was a seminar with keynote speaker Molly Fletcher (@MollyFletcher). She is the type of person that once she started talking, you were so captivated in what she had to say that the rest of the ladies in the room disappeared and she was talking to you and only you. A mother of three, Fletcher was nicknamed the modern day "female Jerry Maguire" by CNN because she has worked with top athletes, coaches and notable personalities throughout her impressive career. She began to introduce herself, by sharing stories from how she started out and the unique paths she took to get to where she is today. She shared concrete examples of how to shift certain behaviors in the absence of crisis and ways to improve our lives by making simple changes. She reiterated the importance of embracing those changes and to use fear as a motivator for success. She used several examples of athletes and coaches to further her point. Other topics Fletcher mentioned included relationship building, discipline and work ethic, and finding your own way on the path to personal discovery. Several points that I thought were particularly interesting, including understanding the major differences between relationships and transactions within your network in business development. Why do athletes continue to succeed and bounce back from defeat? Fletcher says that those athletes have a special ability to recover quickly from adversity. Finding clarity and focusing on what is in front of you (whether on the golf course or in our personal/professional lives) is a good start to "being the best." Fletcher has written two books, "Your Dream Job Game Plan" and "The Business of Being the Best" -- highly recommend reading them.
As the keynote wrapped, all of the women got together for a photo, then engaged with one another during the Wine Down Network Up part of the program. The local, regional and national businesswomen were given a unique opportunity to meet with one another and exchange business cards and ideas while sampling various desserts from Congressional's pastry chefs.
The value of events like Executive Women's Day is undeniable, offering women a stage in which to meet, interact with, and educate each other about promoting their overall well-being.