Perspectives: WLC: A Certain Kind Of Special

One of my favorite events of the year is always the PPAI Women’s Leadership Conference  (WLC). In June, I attended the 15th annual conference and it did not disappoint. Since this was my ninth time at WLC, I’m no longer surprised at how a room full of competitors can be so open and willing to share their ideas, best practices and success stories. But I always sit back in awe—in awe of the knowledge, in awe of the strength, in awe of the collaboration and support, and in awe of the connections and collisions that otherwise might not happen.

This year we had 160 attendees, 61 who were first-timers. It was a great mix of familiar faces, friends and colleagues, along with those who have been in the industry for many years and never attended, and those who have only been in the industry for a short time—as little as two months. The combination of the legacy attendees with the new energy created a great dynamic for networking, knowledge sharing and forward-thinking conversations.

This year, we were also able to honor and celebrate two inspirational Woman of Achievement Award winners—Daryll Griffin, MAS, and Irene Kogutt, MAS. Their stories make you want to be the best version of yourself, and are such great reminders of the importance of giving selflessly. Read more about them beginning on page 50.

One of the most impressive sessions was led by Vicki Ostrom, a futurist and trend analyst at SanMar. Her general session on trends, Influence(her), was extremely informative and left us all wishing we had more time to dive into this topic. Ostrom talked about the WEgeneration. She coined the term herself, so you aren’t going to find it on Google. She explained that we are going through a transitional time where collaboration is king because what’s new is old and what’s old is new. The lines are becoming more blurred regarding styles and products from age to gender to race, and becoming more inclusive—or ALLclusive as Vicki said.

She took us through a journey of how social media, bloggers, influencers and the generational mashup are influencing the products we buy and the way we buy them. People want to embrace their differences and what makes them unique, but they also want to be relatable and understood. Until recently, I hadn’t even heard the terms “gender fluid” or “differently-abled,” but brands are picking up on things that once seemed taboo and capitalizing on the reality of the world we live in and the issues we deal with. It’s pretty nice to see inclusion, acceptance and celebrating our differences become “trendy” and supported. I hope it becomes less of a trend and more indoctrinated in our cultural norm.

I recently read an article in Forbes that asked why in an age of diversity and inclusion, do we still need women’s events (like WLC). I have attended many conferences on leadership, marketing and sales, technical skills and soft skills and none have left me as inspired, empowered and feeling as mentored as WLC does. I’ve received many takeaways, gifts and value from these other conferences, but this one is a certain kind of special. It’s not a slumber party and it’s not a big kumbaya session. It’s an event that brings together female leaders and future leaders and gives them space to network, learn and thrive in a different kind of environment.

I truly love this event and am already looking forward to what’s in store for next year. Join me in Charlotte, North Carolina, June 22-24, 2020. Watch for registration to open in December.  


Brittany David, MAS, is chair of the board at PPAI.


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