Women Mean Business

From left: Shell Projects and Technology CIO Amy Sulz, Wood Group CEO Michele McNichol, HMSDC President Ingrid Robinson, IACCGH President Joya Shukla Photos: Bijay Dixit

From left: Shell Projects and Technology CIO Amy Sulz, Wood Group CEO Michele McNichol, HMSDC President Ingrid Robinson, IACCGH President Joya Shukla
Photos: Bijay Dixit

By Manu Shah

HOUSTON: Wood Group CEO Michele McNichol was once told she could never lead a project because she was a woman.

Ingrid Robinson was singled out of 200 applicants for the position long held by Houston’s father of Diversity – former HMSDC President Richard Huebner.

These remarkable women not only beat the odds to succeed but proved that they could do so without compromising on their personal values and putting family first.

HMSDC President Ingrid Robinson

HMSDC President Ingrid Robinson

At the Women Mean Business event held on December 13, at the Junior League of Houston, the two Keynote speakers shared their remarkable journey and the guideposts that guided them to a gathering of over 60 IACCGH members and guests who as President Joya Shukla remarked must be lauded for “fighting the traffic” to make it to the event.

In his remarks, IACCGH Executive Director Jagdip Ahluwalia recognized Gitesh Desai who represented Wood Group, one of the sponsors of the 2008 Trade Mission to India led by Judge Ed Emmett. The delegation’s efforts led to Mahindra & Mahindra, the world’s largest tractor company expanding their facility in Harris County creating local jobs and boosting Houston’s economy. He also acknowledged Vibhu Sharma’s role in connecting the Chamber with Michele McNichol.

President Joya Shukla welcomed the gathering and thanked Shell’s senior leadership not only for sponsoring the Chamber’s events but also giving up their “personal time to coach, mentor, strategize and share ideas” for the Chamber’s continual success.

Wood Group CEO Michele McNichol

Wood Group CEO Michele McNichol

The economic impact of diversity in Houston is a staggering $22.8 billion. Ingrid Robinson, President of HMSDC, an organization that provides certification for women owned enterprises shared several statistics that highlighted the phenomenal growth and leadership of firms owned by women of color over the last decade. Women, she noted, are not only leaders in Corporations but are increasingly embarking on an entrepreneurial path. Houston, she continued, is far ahead of its times and is showing “other cities the impact of encouraging diversity.” She wrapped up her talk by emphasizing that every woman who aims to be a successful entrepreneur must “set their own value, communicate that value to the world and not settle for less.”

In an equally thought provoking address, Keynote Speaker and CEO of Wood Group Mustang Michele McNichol underscored the importance of “Finding Your Purpose” – a practice which involves defining your life and vision. Her advice: Look deeply into what inspires you, define your best qualities and never lose sight of personal values which can be found by “digging into your soul.” As women and “nurturers,” she continued, we tend to neglect ourselves but it is important to invest time in any activity that is energizing, which for her, was as simple “as watching the waves on the beach.” These are questions that may take a bit of “soul searching” but when applied to life’s challenging moments can help you make conscious decisions that lead to success.

Shell representative and CIO Amy Suhl proposed the vote of thanks and presented plaques of appreciation to the Speakers.

(IACCGH’s next event – “2017 Inaugural Networking Works” will be held on January 11th at 4:00pm at the City Hall and will present the new Board led by President Allen Richards of United Airlines. For more information, please contact iaccgh.com)