Smith-Tuck Global Leaders Program for Women Welcomes 10th Class
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – It happens every year at the beginning of the Smith-Tuck Global Leaders Program for Women. At least one participant seeks out the program director with the same question: “Why did my company send me to an all-women program?”
Iris Newalu, director of Smith College Executive Education, which partners with Tuck Executive Education at Dartmouth College to host the annual session, has fielded the same query from successful businesswomen since the first class in 2002.
Now in its 10th year, the Smith-Tuck Program has earned a reputation that recently garnered international media attention and a following among companies with such household names as John Deere, Johnson & Johnson, and JP Morgan.
Meanwhile, Newalu has perfected her response to that repeated question.
“I don’t even answer it anymore,” said Newalu, who asks participants to leave behind their laptops during the program, which runs June 20 to 24 this year. “By day two, they just get it.”
When surveyed, past Smith-Tuck participants, which number more than 300, indicated that what they “get” – confidence to lead global, multicultural teams – is fairly noteworthy, given their status as leaders in their companies.
Noteworthy, but not shocking, said Newalu. The women, who have overcome stacked odds, say they leave the program with the backing of a strategic network of women and a greater ability to leverage diversity for global opportunities even if it requires taking risks.
The program’s strength, Newalu believes, is the powerful partnership between Smith, a leader in women’s education, and the Tuck School, a leader in business education. And, Fortune 500 companies have responded to the success they witness among their women executives by sending groups at a time.
“Strategy used to be about protecting existing competitive advantage. Today, it’s about finding the next advantage,” said Vijay Govindarajan, the Earl C. Daum 1924 Professor of International Business at Dartmouth, who serves as faculty director for the program. “Women leaders are the next advantage.”
This week, 43 senior-level woman executives—from Australia, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United Sates—take time away from their demanding work to participate in a curriculum that requires their attention and participation beginning with an array of assignments before they arrive and culminating with interaction in the classroom. The absence of laptops fosters that critical interaction, Newalu said.
Past participants of the Smith-Tuck Program include such well-known leaders as Mary K. W. Jones, vice president, global human resources at Deere & Company, and Karan Sorensen, former chief information officer for Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development.
“The program had an immediate impact on my work,” said another Johnson & Johnson executive when surveyed about her experience. “I walked away energized about my professional life and personal goals.”
And, on the way out, she picked up her laptop.