Webster University President Beth Stroble was invited to speak to the Boeing-St. Louis Women’s Mentoring Group earlier this summer on the topic of leadership and vision for global academic excellence. About three dozen members of this select group attended the presentation, representing a broad cross-section of Boeing’s female employees — from upper management and directors to the young and up-and-coming.
“At least one success factor for those of us who seek to advance in formal leadership roles is the fit of the individual and the organization,” Stroble said. “Pursuing the right leadership and development opportunities in a welcoming culture helps position each of us for the greatest opportunity for success, and for each of us in turn to support others’ success.”
Stroble shared the story of the innovative Sisters of Loretto who shaped Webster’s development over the years, then discussed her own leadership experience at Webster and her vision for the University as it approaches its centennial.
“The values and commitment of the Sisters of Loretto have endured and continue to inform those of us who respond, who innovate and who lead today,” she said.
In particular, Stroble discussed how Webster’s unique global network of campuses requires a distributed form of management. “This was a challenge that intrigued me as a potential leader for Webster.
“Effective leadership of this kind of organization requires us to identify and develop the leadership talent of the worldwide Webster community. It is important for our management teams to have the tools to lead from where they are and for Webster to develop future leaders from the ground up.”
One such tool is Webster’s new Global Leadership Academy, which is intended to enhance the knowledge, skills and experiences that help employees enrich their capacity to accomplish personal and professional goals, leading from where they are in the university.
“As we developed this program, we partnered with other leadership-focused organizations across the country like Boeing and the U.S. Air Force Academy, as well as leaders in the field of professional development at universities and corporations,” Stroble said.
“By tapping into what makes us different, we found unlimited potential in Webster’s rich diversity, which becomes a collective strength for us and the communities we serve.”
A lively question-and-answer session followed Stroble’s formal presentation. In response to one audience member who wants to mentor her 10-year-old daughter, Stroble offered the following advice: “Have her interact with as diverse a group as possible,” she said.
“Make sure she learns another language. Take her with you to events where she has the opportunity to meet and interact with many people. Encourage her to do volunteer work, so that her focus is on others. And, finally, when she enters middle school, make sure she doesn’t close off the opportunity for careers in math and science – the ‘STEM’ disciplines. Too many girls today self-select out of these areas at a young age.”
Another audience member asked Stroble to share the best advice she ever received. “Say yes as frequently as you can,” Stroble responded, “Keep an open mind and be willing to take risks.”
That’s good advice for Boeing’s burgeoning leaders — and for everyone ready to lead from within at Webster!