Inspiring discussions with Carla Harris and fellow executives in the heart of NYC.

In October, leaders from SAS and other organizations in life sciences, health care, and health care-focused finance participated in a transformative leadership event. This experience left a lasting impression.

The event was the kickoff of SAS’ first Women’s Executive Engagement Series and was led by Carla Harris, a true powerhouse of a leader. Hosted in New York City, this event offered invaluable insights and leadership lessons that will extend long after the event.

The SAS Women’s Executive Engagement Series is an invitation-only series designed to enhance relationships among female leaders. Susan Lenderts, leader of the SAS life sciences business unit in the US, noted in her opening remarks: “Now more than ever, we need to build relationships in our converging industries to solve problems plaguing global public health. On a personal level, we need to be able to look across the table to another woman who understands the distinct challenges of leading while simultaneously holding the role of mother, partner, sister, and daughter. The intention of this group is to create a space where each of us belongs and is supported where we are now.”

Here are some of Harris' pearls of wisdom:

1. Emphasizing authenticity

Harris said to bring your full, authentic self to work and your multi-faceted nature. The key is to relax, assess the work environment and use your strengths that best fit the occasion.

2. Building trust

Building trust is a cornerstone of effective leadership. Trust is cultivated through actively listening to what people value and providing consistent delivery.

3. Creating clarity

Harris urged everyone to embrace the idea of failing fast, with the understanding that each failure holds a lesson waiting to be learned. Clarity is created from the ashes of failure. Fostering an environment that celebrates failures with productive and constructive responses is essential

4. Empowering others

A powerful concept Harris shared is the idea that power is created by giving it away. Leadership isn't solely about execution; it's also about empowering others. The true essence of leadership lies in the journey from execution to empowerment.

5. Fighting bias

We all are vulnerable to unconscious bias. Harris encouraged everyone to resist inclinations to reach for the familiar and to be intentional about fostering diversity in our teams and organizations. She spoke about the power of soliciting diverse voices and engaging team members by name, showing them we see and hear them.

7. Finding courage

Transparency and the courage to address issues head-on were recurring themes. Harris emphasized the power of one's voice to bring attention to and address problems.

The unifying thread running through all these pearls of wisdom is courage. We were challenged to speak with courage and engage with, and develop, our "why" – the core reason that drives us.

Harris ended with a profound message: To define expectations clearly, celebrate both effort and outcomes and acknowledge the growth opportunities that come from investing in others.

Attendees forging connections beyond the boardroom.

This leadership event wasn't just about acquiring knowledge; it was about forging deep connections. Personally, I emerged from this experience with a renewed sense of purpose, commitment and the courage to lead with authenticity.

Let's continue these conversations, celebrate our successes and challenges and grow together as leaders as we cultivate the talent of others.

Read more stories about women in analytics!


About Author

Michelle Proctor

Director of Operations, Risk, Fraud and Compliance Solutions

Michelle Proctor is the Chief of Staff for SAS's Risk, Fraud, and Compliance Solutions division, overseeing more than 350 global resources in R&D, Risk & Finance Advisory Services, Portfolio Strategy, and Operations. She leads the SAS Women's Initiative Network (WIN) and the Women in Analytics (WIA) program, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. With previous experience at IBM and NASA, Michelle actively contributes to women's empowerment through non-profit board service, driven by her passion for STEM.

1 Comment

  1. What an incredible opportunity Michelle! Thank you for sharing the pearls Carla dropped at the event. She is an inspiration as are all the women from SAS that I see in these pictures!

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