2022 Women’s Business Conference: Step Into Your Power

Dave Moore, Staff Writer

While the official theme of the Dallas Regional Chamber’s 2022 Women’s Business Conference was “SHEsurgence,” the effective theme seemed to be: “Underestimate us. We dare you.”

The event’s keynote discussions by BGSF CEO Beth Garvey and Mars rover mission lead Diana Trujillo shared that theme. Both entered the working world young, with little money, to rise to the top of their respective male-dominated fields.

“I’ve actually had to argue with people that I’m really the CEO,” Garvey told the crowd of 800 who gathered on International Women’s Day in the Hyatt Regency Dallas ballroom. Garvey was speaking fireside-chat style with Jackson Walker lawyer Suzan Kedron. The in-person event on March 8, with master of ceremonies Sara Madsen Miller, was the DRC’s 24th Women’s Business Conference.

Garvey recounted the exchange with one man in particular, at an investor meeting.

“You’re the CEO?” said Garvey, paraphrasing him. “Well, I thought I talked to your guy. And he’s not the CEO?”

“No,” Garvey recalled answering. “He’s my CFO.”

“It’s bizarre that males can’t fathom that I’m the CEO of a publicly traded company,” she said. “There’s (another male) CEO who cannot introduce me at a conference without a comment about my blond hair.”

Garvey said her family had little money. She quit junior college to care for her parents after they fell ill. She didn’t finish her degree. She entered the staffing world, where she ascended to CEO of InStaff, which, in 2013, was acquired by Plano-based BGSF. In 2016, she became BG Staffing’s COO, then, became CEO in 2018. BGSF now operates in 48 states and employs about 28,000 workforce solutions consultants.

At the WBC event, more than 130 female professionals connected with mentors at the “Let’s Kick Glass Together Coaching Experience,” which was presented by BGSF.

Garvey continues to lead efforts in the company’s “Kick Glass” campaign, which encourages women to believe in themselves.

Garvey said it wasn’t until later in her career, when she was transitioning from InStaff to BGSF when someone encouraged her to step into her power.

“I just think that we need to give those resources to people when they’re younger,” she said.

Fleeing Colombia at 17 with $300 and Determination

Mission Lead of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Mission Diana Trujillo told the story of when she emigrated from Colombia to Miami, with $300 in her pockets, and a desire to overcome the constraints that held back the women in her life for generations.

Trujillo – who was interviewed onstage by LH Capital CEO/President Nicole Small – said she worked day and night cleaning hotel rooms to earn money to attend college when she experienced an epiphany, after falling during a nighttime run, tearing her pants.

“I ripped them, thinking, ‘These are my only pants. What am I going to do now?’” she said. She realized then she could best honor the inspirational women in her life by rising above just surviving. She wanted to follow her dream of getting a “bad-ass job.”

She said she’s often the only woman in the room while executing interplanetary exploration projects, and some of the men asked her to get coffee for them, or asked her, “When is Dr. Trujillo coming?”

“I like being underestimated,” she said with a smile. “It makes me feel good to know that I need to be in that room.”

Jess Huang, a driving force behind McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace, also highlighted the data-driven insight on women’s progress in Corporate America and how the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a toll. McKinsey & Company is a global management consulting firm.

ATHENA® Award Winners

Receiving the ATHENA® Leadership Program Award on March 8 was Alfreda Norman, who oversees the Dallas Fed’s communications and public outreach programs.

“I have spent the majority of my professional career in pursuit of the ideal that everyone should have access to and enjoy the benefits of an inclusive and equitable economy,” Norman told the crowd. “The American Dream and belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born, the color of their skin or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society in which upward mobility is possible for everyone. This is my why. This is my assignment in life.”

Alexis A. Clark, business unit manager for Hilti North America, received the YPL Athena Award.

“To the young, scrappy and hungry, the earlier you take chances to learn and explore, the more exponentially your possibilities grow,” Clark said. “Hustle doesn’t mean do it all – it means be picky about where you invest your most precious asset – time – and then double down.”

The event’s presenting sponsor was Jackson Walker; gold sponsor was American Airlines; silver sponsors were Options Clearing Corporation, Paycom, and Simmons Bank; YPL ATHENA® Sponsor was Thomson Reuters; ATHENA® Sponsor was Wells Fargo; Let’s Kick Glass Together Coaching Experience Sponsor was BGSF. The event marketplace was presented by Frost.