IACCGH Hosts Women in Leadership Mentoring Circle Event


From left: Rachana Wood, Kelly Showalter, Francene Young, Joya Shukla and Karen Francis

By Manu Shah

HOUSTON: This was the subject of an interactive mentoring session that was keenly discussed by a group of women at the IACCGH Women in Leadership Mentoring Circle. Held on October 28,  at the Hess Club, the event was led by Francene Young, former VP of Talent and Diversity at Shell and present Rector at St. Luke’s the Evangelist.

For the past few years, IACCGH has been successfully organizing the Women Mean Business Series and the Women in Leadership Mentoring Circle exclusively for its women members. The Chamber invites inspiring women like Hermann Memorial’s COO Malisha Patel, world renowned author Chitra Divakaruni, and C.T. Bauer College of Business Dean Latha Ramchand. These remarkable women who’ve reached the top of their fields not only share their experiences and lessons learnt but in the process empower other women to face challenges and succeed. Sponsored by Shell, these life enhancing series will feature future speakers like NASA scientist Sabrina Singh and Channel 13’s Cynthia Cisneros.

President Ashok Garg, in his opening address, observed that a mentor can change the trajectory of one’s life and career and while “he often forgets names, he has never forgotten the names of his mentors.”  Introducing the Speaker, he stated that when Francene retired from Shell, she “didn’t pick up a golf club but continued doing what she has always strived to do – helping people and serving the community.” President Elect Joya Shukla also welcomed Francene and IACCGH Past President and Shell retiree Madhukar Prasad.

In an address that was light in approach but serious in content, Francene spoke about a fundamental component of success, a trait that differentiates winners from losers. This is resilience or the ability to press forward in the face of difficulties. To illustrate her point, she shared a story about the lack of resilience and it was as personal as her own brother who hit “rock bottom” and couldn’t pull himself out of it.

Comparing our everyday encounters to an “emotional rollercoaster ride” she stated that it is inevitable that we all, at some point or another, “hit those places where we come undone.” According to her, it’s perfectly acceptable to visit “pity city” but the question is how long do you live there, how do you respond and how quickly do you find a way out of the turmoil in your life.

Francene encouraged the attendees to seek those answers within themselves by dividing the gathering into groups. Each member shared their personal experience of resilience and how they tackled the difficulties in their lives. One member of the group summed up the group’s discussion and shared it with the larger group. Madhukar Prasad moderated the group sessions and articulated the takeaways from each group.

Faith, prayer and meditation clearly played a large part in helping the women find the courage in dealing with seemingly insurmountable issues, many gave themselves permission to remove the “superwoman cape” and cry it out, while others shared and leaned on a support system. Some women went into analytical mode while others stepped back, paused and changed their perspective.

Summing up the evening, Francene encouraged the group to “stick with the confidence, stick with the faith, stick with the partnerships you make with each other and “listen to that inner voice because you’ll pull out of you what you already know.”

In appreciation, Shell’s Rachna Wood draped a beautiful shawl around Francene’s shoulders in the Indian traditional way of honoring a person while Kelly Showalter presented her with a plaque to thank her for leading such an enlightening and empowering session.