What we took away from Watermark 2018


On Februrary 23rd, 6500 women and forward thinking men converged in San Jose for the Watermark Conference for Women. While looking forward to the leadership panels, career changing workshops, and networking—let’s be honest—we were there to see Amal Clooney and Reese Witherspoon!


The energy buzz was amazing. We sat spellbound as we listened to the live interview with Amal Clooney. (She only mentioned George, I think, once). What an intelligent, inspiring, and courageous woman! I wanted to be her, not just be awed. Amal graced the morning stage and shared her transition from corporate law to international law and human rights. “There was no class on Human Rights law at Columbia. Now, I teach that class.” The conversation shifted from her work with political prisoners to the challenges of securing accountability for genocide, sexually enslavement and other horrific acts Yazidi women suffered in Iraq.


Amal draws you into her work, making you look at how you, too, can take a stand. Not only in the world’s courtroom, but also at the individual level of hosting refugees as a guest in her home, and in the streets joining the Parkland march, Amal leads by example.


Following Amal, we ferried through a breathtaking selection of break-out sessions focused on leadership, professional advancement, career and life transitions, and personal development.


The action packed day continued with Maysoon Zayid taking the stage with humor, chutzpah and intelligence. A strong voice for disability, Maysoon rocked the hall starting with how she got her name to what we can do to create inclusion and the many layers of diversity. What a show! If you haven’t seen her, check out her Ted Talk.


And, if you thought you knew Reese Witherspoon, hearing her interviewed at Watermark gives you a new perspective on the trailblazing actor and advocate. Having been accepted, she started attending Stanford but found herself financially strapped. So, Reese made her way to Hollywood—abandoning Palo Alto for Los Angeles—our gain.


Reese spoke candidly about her first production company’s demise and how she pivoted and took ownership to create a venture that worked for her. While talking about Hollywood, all agreed that the system is broken and needs to change. Reese for me represented a professional woman balancing the challenges of work, motherhood, personal well-being, life and success. We look forward to what she will do next, and appreciate her leading voices for Time’s Up.  Tweet: #timesup. More on the Legal Defense fund>>


Watermark takeaways:
  • Use your expertise and time to create positive change
  • It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you and where you excel. Make strong allies.
  • There is a difference between listening and hearing. Pause, and really hear.
  • Balance intuition and analytics to make decisions.
  • Is it a gender lens when making ‘the’ decision? Or is it just technical, financial, and strategic acumen that drives decision making?
  • Do you talk about your strengths? It’s time to start practicing.

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