At our recent OPTIMIZE 2021 conference, AspenTech’s Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF) sponsored two sessions around the topic of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DE&I). Since our last (in-person) conference in Spring of 2019, we have renewed our commitment as a company to promoting diversity, equality and inclusion both internally and externally. We are proud of the effort made by our women’s leadership team, and excited that we have expanded our DE&I teams to include forums to support our Black, LGBTQ, LatinX and AAPI colleagues.
The first session at OPTIMIZE 2021, Fostering Diverse and Inclusive Communities Across the Process Industries ran Thursday morning, with over 300 attendees representing an array of companies and industries. Speakers included Roberta Ressler, Corteva; Ines Montagna, raizen; Pamela Deidda, Saras; and Maria Franca Rosina, Saras. If you have registered for the event, you can view the recording on-demand though June 30. The session was introduced by our new Chief Financial Officer, Chantelle Breithaupt, who also holds a certificate in women’s leadership from Cornell University. Interviewers included Suchi Badrinarayanan, Adriana Gulino, Ivana Gianfrate, Daniela Cermeno and Rosa Montesinos representing WLF regional teams in Houston, EURA and Latin America. The session was followed by a live Q&A featuring Chantelle, our speakers and the WLF team.
The panelists shared their own experiences, as well as some of the DE&I initiatives at their organizations. Roberta talked about having empathy for the different functions within your organization. At Corteva, for example, they have a Women’s Inclusion Network that functions similarly to our WLF team. They have eight similar “business resource groups (BRGs)” Their goal? To elevate and develop female leaders within the company.
Pamela spoke about initiatives at Saras, primarily focused on the European team of which she is a member. At Saras, they have a number of DE&I groups, in which they aim to foster a culture of equality for all. She shared some specific advice with our listeners, including:
- Be inspired by everyday experience
- Follow your passion
- Be open to innovation, confrontation and new ideas
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
- Accept challenges and become a reference point for others within the company
Maria Franca Rosina talked about her own journey and spoke about the inclusive culture at Saras, where “human capital is a priority.” She also talked about what she perceives over the next ten years to be a big opportunity for women, since women are known to “think outside the box’ and turn ideas into concrete actions. She also discussed the need to be passionate about what you are doing. Our WLF team likes to say, “magic happens when passion meets purpose,” and this sentiment seemed to resonate with all our speakers.
Maria Ines Montagna, raizen, spoke about knowing the “why’s” and the importance of leading with diversity which she said provides positive stimulation for teams. “More diverse teams = better decision-making,” she said, and advised everyone to practice self-reflection and “know yourself.”
At AspenTech, we often talk about diversity of thought which is a powerful by-product of a more diverse and engaged organization. Maria went on to quote Brene Brown, author of Dare to Lead on the subject of personal “ARMOR.” She mentioned how important it is to recognize that when dealing with Imposter Syndrome, to which we are all prey. Her advice? Don’t worry about peer feedback, solicit it! Be vulnerable and open and learn to listen and learn from criticism.
The second OPTIMIZE session on the “hot topic” of diversity and inclusion was moderated by AspenTech SVP, Kelly Harred and focused a multinational energy company’s roll out of Aspen Mtell across multiple sites and locations. According to Kelly, the diversity among team members was considered to be a significant factor in the smooth implementation of this new technology. As Kelly aptly put it, “A critical success factor in large scale projects is ensuring team diversity. This diversity in experiences, cultures, backgrounds and thinking comes together to drive far better solutions and outcomes for the project and people than could otherwise be achieved.”
The positive energy coming from both sessions was impressive. It tells us that we are on the right path as we try to better understand the diversity in our own organization in order to support and nurture our employees. Since OPTIMIZE 2021 only a few short weeks ago, there has been a flurry of activity among our DE&I forums.
Our women’s leadership team has a number of events planned this month, including a session on “Success in a Post-COVID Work Environment.” This session is open to everyone in the company, as are all events run by our DE&I teams.
We are excited to also share that we are celebrating PRIDE this year as a company for the first time. Our LBGTQ Leadership Forum has a number of activities coming up including a photo contest in which employee allies are being asked to submit photos showing their support of the LBGTQ community at AspenTech and in their region which will be turned into a “rainbow photo collage” we plan to share socially at the end of June. The company, with our HQ in Massachusetts, will also be making a donation to Boston PRIDE and sharing a video interview with our DE&I team lead, Ben Hahne who will discusses his personal journey.
Follow us on LinkedIn to join our celebration.