Los Angeles – Day 5 Takeaways

Barbara Cendejas and Kerri Schroeder

“When I came here I thought I shared with Carrie everything about my business,” said Barbara Cendejas, owner of a digital marketing firm in Mexico City. “But we unveiled opportunities I didn’t even know had existed.” While working with Global Ambassador Kerri Schroeder, Barbara found a way to increase revenue by 27 percent. She’ll also prioritize paying it forward: “I have a responsibility to go back and share what I learned with others. It’s important to understand the wealth of knowledge that your mentor is giving to you, but it’s even more of a gift to be able to share it.” For Kerri, the experience was humbling: “I wondered what on earth could I offer to someone in digital promotion. But what I learned was that this independent point of view and different perspective seemed to be valuable.”

Dahlia Wilde and Maria de Lourdes “Lulu” Sobrino

“We are not superwomen. We have to decide which areas we’re good at and exactly what we can do.” Tough love and focus is what Global Ambassador Lulu Sobrino brought to her mentee, Dahlia Wilde, CEO of Pretty Smart Woman Company in Los Angeles. Dahlia produces creative projects and educational initiatives that encourage girls to be strong, curious and innovative. Lulu, founder and CEO of Lulu’s Foods, a multi-million dollar dessert company, took a hard look at the bottom line, noting “Dahlia has a very big heart, helping a lot of people with a good networking group. But she doesn’t charge enough for her services.” Their plan for the next six months is to meet regularly to work on the business — this will help Dahlia create more of her original written content with strong female characters and allow her to produce more of her theatre, film and book projects, as well as free up time to explore social enterprise and teaching opportunities.

Gizella Greene and Marilyn Johnson

“SuperFoods was a dream,” said Gizella Greene of Ecuador. “When you dream you’re not worrying about projections and financials. My dream was making people eat better. I was saving communities, saving the world.” Working with Global Ambassador Marilyn Johnson, however, helped open her eyes to a financial reality that needed attention. The first action item is to work with an accountant on sound financial management best practices to keep SuperFoods Ecuador stable and profitable. “You couldn’t have given me a better mentee,” said Marilyn. “We’ll continue our friendship and business relationship.” Monthly WhatsApp connections are planned, as well as a trip to Quito, on the calendar for 2018.

Teyra Ehlers and Abigail Edgecliffe-Johnson

“We came here expecting to be changed by our mentors,” said Teyra Ehlers, founder of an innovative property management company in Panama. “I have Abigail, but I also have another 10 mentors I can rely on.” For Abigail Edgecliffe-Johnson, the experience was transformative. “Being a mentor was shocking and I tried to live up to it. We all have something to give.” The pair hunkered down on discrete, actionable steps toward streamlining Teyra’s company and maximizing efficiency. Human resources issues will be improved with tools for better remote team management and productivity tracking. There will be more frequent but smaller team meetings. The organizational chart will be revamped and all staff will meet new goals to be set for 2018.

Amy Friedman and Vera Futorjanski

“I’ve been so inspired by the leadership and commitment of this community,” said Amy Friedman, co-founder and executive director of POPS the Club in Los Angeles. “My goal this week was to get out of the weeds and look at the organization and opportunities more strategically. To think bigger and broader, and to figure out ways to implement a new strategic vision.” She was paired with Global Ambassador Vera Futorjanski of Dubai Future Foundation. “My goal was to zoom out and look at the bigger picture of what she does,” said Vera. They worked on everything from creating an organizational chart, mapping growth opportunities, and brainstorming ways to integrate a for-profit social enterprise using book sales to support the clubs.

Maria Kaltschmitt and April Francois

Long-term growth and succession planning were focal points of Maria and April’s mentorship in Los Angeles. “I have to confess I was freaked out,” said Maria. “I learned more about what I thought I knew.” The pair took a step back to look at financials and project out three to five years. When she returns to Guatemala, Maria will undertake a strategic planning process to map out the direction of the company and her role within it. “It was really positive work. I think the confidence April gave me was really important.” The sentiment was shared by April, “I never imagined how much I would take away from this week. It was humbling and intimidating. I leave the week feeling very recharged.”

Agustina Fainguersch and Shelly Diamond

With some of the biggest brands under her belt – such as Xerox, Dell and Campbell’s – Y&R Chief Client Officer Shelley Diamond knows a thing or two about marketing. For a young Argentine tech entrepreneur looking to scale her successful start-up to the U.S., it was a mentorship match made in heaven. “When I was partnered with Shelley, she knew the market and she understood where I was coming from,” said Agustina. “She really helped me put my thoughts into place, have a plan, and take the next step.” Storytelling and marketing rank high on the to-do list, as well as securing more partnerships in 2018. Another huge GAP takeaway was the instant network of women leaders ready to connect: “We are helping each other and we are empowering ourselves, seeing that there are more people like us.”

Carrie McKellogg and Nensy Bandhoe

“Nensy is truly a warrior,” said Global Ambassador Carrie McKellogg of REDF. “She’s singlehandedly trying to save the women of Suriname from getting sick and dying from diseases that are preventable.” Nensy Bandhoe is executive director of the Lobi Foundation, saving lives while fighting an uphill battle of entrenched bureaucracy and challenging cultural norms. Strengthening cash flow position and building a marketing and communications strategy are two objectives she’ll tackle back home, along with paying more attention to work-life balance. “Leadership seems to come naturally for me,” said Nensy. “It was motivated by seeing injustice. I’m not a warrior, I just do what I do.”

Cecilia de la Paz and Geraldine Laybourne

One simple, radical idea ignites Cecilia de la Paz: Make learning fun for kids and education in Uruguay will be transformed. “I’m an expert in education and technology and what they can do for my country,” said Cecilia, founder of E.ducate Uruguay, an organization that empowers children through education. She was matched with Geraldine Laybourne, whose lifelong commitment to advocating for kids has guided every career move she’s made, from Nickelodeon to Oxygen and beyond. As they worked through the week, they devised strategies for simplifying the message, fundraising, networking and preparing for expansion. “Cecilia has what it takes to make a transformative change in her own beloved Uruguay but also South America and beyond,” said Geraldine. “She has a big vision, a sound foundation and philosophy about children and education, she has a creative brain, and a genius at connecting with communities and connecting communities with resources. Her passion for children gives me hope for the future. Nothing will stop her.”

Ariela Suster and Gabriela Leon

GAP was a wake-up call for designer Ariela Suster, a visionary social enterprise leader changing lives in El Salvador. She was paired with Mexican nanotechnology executive Gabriela Leon and getting a handle on budgeting and finances was paramount. “The numbers just brought a sort of a sense of being more grounded,” said Ariela. “I’m very creative, but being more grounded will help me to make a difference. I want to make money for myself, it’s not just about helping other people, and I can do a lot more when I am empowered. The numbers show exactly what you can do, how you can negotiate, how you can set your goals, and what you need moving forward.” Ariela and Gabriela explored new ways to leverage e-commerce and packaging innovation, all while threading brand values throughout the transaction experience. According to Gabriela, “Ariela doesn’t want to be a rockstar — she is a rock star.”

Veronica Soto and Claudia Herreramoro

“Whoa – let’s take a step back.” That was Global Ambassador Claudia Herreramoro’s first reaction when she learned about her mentee Veronica’s business, GID Industries and her nonprofit organization, a side project that empowers women in the community. She needed to focus, prioritize a stable financial landscape and rebuild the organizational structure. To accomplish this, Claudia suggested Veronica closely evaluate each of the GID brands, including MS Trucking and the Forklift Store, before separating them. “The common denominator in all of this is customer service,” explained Veronica. “That translates to providing quality logistics and safe mobility in the transport of goods.” In addition to customers, Veronica takes good care of her employees — especially female employees. The GAP week allowed her the time map out a new approach to empowering women at GID, implementing a new strategic plan in the human resources department, as well as advising a financial program.

Photography: David Hume Kennerly