Los Angeles – A "Game-Changing" Experience
Agustina Fainguersch, U.S. Managing Director and Partner, Wolox, San Francisco
The Global Ambassadors Program (GAP) was a game-changing experience for me. When I first learned about it I thought it would be a good learning and academic experience and a great complement to my formation as a leader, but I couldn’t imagine how much I would learn from and give back to the rest of the participants.
Being an entrepreneur means you’re always rushing from one place to the other and you rarely give yourself a minute to stop and think, but this was a forced stop with great outcomes. Until the very first day of the program, I didn’t take the time to see who would be attending. I remember my first thoughts as everyone introduced themselves on our first session, I went through the famous “impostor syndrome,” that feeling where you feel like you don’t belong there and that everyone else is way too amazing. With time I learned I had some value to add to the group as well.
One of the greatest things about the program is the time you get to spend with your personal mentor, which is somehow a perfect fit. Zoe and the GAP team do a great job at matching mentees and mentors and this ends up being the key factor to success and the very special differential aspect of this program.
Agustina Fainguersch and Shelley Diamond
My mentor is Shelley Diamond, chief client officer at Y&R and one of the most inspiring women I ever met. She’s clearly a great fit to me and my current needs. When I got paired with her I couldn’t understand how such a busy person would travel to LA just to spend one week with me but when I met her I realized the kind of person she was and it made perfect sense.
Global Ambassador Shelley Diamond (left) with Agustina (right) during one-on-one mentoring
With Shelley we did things our own way as we realized we were very likeminded on how to do things and that worked perfectly well through the week. We did part of our brainstorming and deep talking walking through the streets of Westwood and UCLA, in the style of the famous Vital Voices Mentoring Walks. That turned out to be a great way of getting away from the routine and finding a more creative approach to the different topics we needed to cover. Then we debriefed in short working sessions aligning thoughts and setting action items. She did a great job at helping me create a plan to address the most challenging issues I’m having as a foreigner in a new market. Also, she opened up many opportunities and triggered many ideas in my head. I finished the program with many things to address and with a much better understanding of how to get things done.
Agustina, third from right, with GAP mentees in Los Angeles
Another very important aspect of the program is the great network that comes with it. The programs are very well curated and this results in a great powerful network of women around the world. They are people who are not only very talented and high achievers but also willing to help, give advice and support each other. I find this one of the greatest aspects of the VV network and I have already seen evidence showing how it works here in the U.S. and in Argentina, as well.
Finally, this program has been a great opportunity for me to reflect upon some personal and professional aspects of my life that I never give myself time for. This is why I experienced this whole week as a gift to myself in many different aspects as well as a great productive working session for planning Wolox‘s coming years.
Agustina presents plans for a new marketing strategy for Wolox and expanding key partnerships
GAP is probably a very different experience for each person but one thing I’m sure of is that it is a game-changing and very inspiring journey for all, with great thoughts, bonding with incredible people and new opportunities like very few programs in the world do! Vital Voices and Bank of America have proven, once again, to be key players in connecting and empowering women in business and I can’t be more grateful for that!
The writer was a participant in the GAP Los Angeles program in November 2017. She is U.S. managing director and partner of Wolox in San Francisco.
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Photography: David Hume Kennerly