• ''Empowerment'' the buzzword at River Region Chamber panel discussion

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    September 14, 2018
    ‘Empowerment’ the buzzword at River Region Chamber panel discussion on women in leadership roles
    Women shouldn’t let fear deter them from pursuing career opportunities and taking leadership roles.
    That was the takeaway from panel discussion on Women in Leadership held Sept. 13 at Belle Terre Country Club in LaPlace.
    Panelists included Raj Pannu, CEO of Pannu Enterprises, which operates seven Subway restaurants in the River Region and New Orleans area; Rhonda Hotard, CEO of Louisiana Federal Credit Union; and Rodney Greenup, president of Greenup Industries, a multi-state, multi-service organization that provides industrial maintenance, land surveying and more.
    The discussion, part of the River Region Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly general membership meeting, was the brainchild of moderators Katie Klibert, of Reserve Telecommunications, and Aspen Murphy, of Marathon Petroleum Company. Klibert and Murphy also serve on the Chamber’s Board of Directors.
    Women leaders figure heavily in all three of the companies represented, with Louisiana Federal Credit Union boasting an all-female executive team.
    Topics ranged from the perception of strong female leaders in the workplace, to the #metoo movement, work-life balance and the importance of mentorship.
    Hotard, a military veteran who served as an electrician, said she started her career needing to show that she could do the job in more male-dominated fields.
    “We had to work a lot harder to prove ourselves,” she said. “I say let your execution, performance and results be your testimony.”
    The panelists agreed that fear of failure sometimes holds entrepreneurs back, regardless of gender. But their advice was that failure is inevitable along the journey. It’s OK to fail, but fail fast and keep going.
    “You have the power to make the change – use it, don’t abuse it,” Pannu said. “We need to understand that we are all equal. Use your knowledge to become more productive.”
    Greenup also pointed out that women businesses are currently growing at a faster rate in all sectors.
    “At some point, if you want to grow, you have to decide to get out there,” he said. “Don’t be embarrassed or afraid – you can stand up at the head of the room and be in charge.”
    “With the advent of #metoo and women’s issues continuing to represent a huge part of national discourse, we thought hosting a wide-ranging discussion on this topic would serve our membership well,” 2018 Chamber Board Chair Kim B. Bourgeois said. “One of our top priorities is to be responsive to the needs of our members with regard to current business topics.”
    Anyone interested in starting their own business is encouraged to contact the River Region Chamber of Commerce at (985) 359-9777 or riverregionchamber.org. The Chamber offers resources for entrepreneurs, including workshops, ribbon cuttings and more.
    The mission of the River Region Chamber of Commerce is to grow, strengthen and unify businesses in the River Region. Since 2004, the Chamber has helped build relationships that impact and improve the quality of life through strong leadership that advocates a pro-business environment in St. Charles, St. James and St. John the Baptist Parishes. It focuses on serving as the voice of River Region businesses, providing business support and value to members and building coalitions. Visit the Chamber online at www.riverregionchamber.org.
    Chassity McComack
    chassity@riverregionchamber.org, 9853599777