Career Advice, Weddington Way

The Future is Female: Weddington Way Founder Shares 4 Takeaways from Fortune MPW NextGen

Ilana Stern, founder and head of Weddington Way, recently joined fellow leaders, entrepreneurs and game changers at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women NextGen conference in southern California to discuss a wide range of topics affecting today’s world, and the women in it.

We asked her to share her thoughts, what she learned and how she applies it to her career. Here’s what she said:

  1. Women are empowered. During and outside of the conference, there is palpable momentum from a strong community of women who are advocating for one another and amplifying each others’ voices. Gap Inc. is made up of over 70% women and has a great representation of women in key leadership roles throughout the organization, and I’m proud to be a part of a company showing how it can be done.
  2. Small businesses and startups have big ideas. It was interesting to see how much energy there was around startups and learning what they have to offer. Large enterprises were excited to hear from early-stage companies and wanted to know: what are they seeing and where are we going? As a part of Gap Inc., my team and I are able to provide the portfolio of brands insights from a small startup.
  3. Solutions are in unlikely places. As a leader, it’s important to me to look to the outside world for inspiration and solutions. That’s why conferences like this are valuable – you get to learn from a diverse group of people across multiple industries, roles, and mindsets. Since day one of Weddington Way, I’ve tried to immerse myself in environments that are different, hear how people work through challenges and learn from other people’s learning curves. I challenge others to do the same.
  4. Now is the time. The advice I regularly give is that when you see an opportunity, step in and go for it. Don’t wait for someone to invite you. This advice was solidified when I met, reconnected with and spoke to women at MPW NextGen. There is a lot of passion and ability in this world, especially from women.    

Ilana is an advocate for women in leadership, which is reflected in Weddington Way’s female-led Bay Area based team. Learn more about her story here.