Using Technology to Empower Women and
                                Stay Organized

Using Technology to Empower Women and Stay Organized

January 31, 2018

Carolyn Pon, Community Director for Professional Business Women of California shares her insights. 

Carolyn Pon
Carolyn Pon, Community Director, PBWC

Established in 1989, Professional Business Women of California (PBWC) provides skill development, networking opportunities and inspiration to women at all levels to achieve their own ambitions and collectively advance gender equality in professional settings.

LiveImpact had an opportunity to talk with Carolyn Pon, who is responsible for turning PBWC strategy into reality by galvanizing its network of 35,000 community members to host webinars, community events, conferences, speaker series’, and ensure that the network continues to make an impact.

How has technology helped you engage, educate and empower your network?
Staying connected to an extensive network of professional women is an essential part of doing business at PBWC, so obviously social media has had a tremendous impact on how we communicate and reach out. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram have enabled us to take our theme of what we do and what we want to do to inform our community, and pass on what others are doing  to inspire and empower our network.

For example, we were able to talk about the movie Hidden Figures and the role of women on social media before our annual conference in March. The theme of our annual conference this year was “#InclusionNow,” and sharing this movie helped inform a lot of young people, who don’t have a history of events, and don’t understand that some of the things we take for granted today, including the right for women to vote, is new. Similarly, we used social media to promote our conference speakers including Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and Congresswoman Jackie Speier. And we are continuing to use social media on our website to market the conference even after it’s over.

The other tool we use extensively is a platform to host online webinars. We host several webinars that are attended by thousands of people annually. A wide range of subjects are covered from teaching basic skills to negotiation techniques, how to look for a position that you are qualified for, discussing what some of the obstacles women face at the workplace, providing guidance on how to speak-up and how to make sure you are being treated equally and get recognized in team meetings. Of course, technology permeates everything we do today, but in the last decade social media and webinars have been the most impactful for us.

It’s all about inclusion and building your brand for professional advancement and personal development.

Let’s talk about the backend technology that helps you stay organized. What benefits have you seen from using LiveImpact software at PBWC?
In the last nine years that I have been involved with PBWC we have grown significantly. The main challenge we were facing was that there was no easy way to keep thousands of names and information about our community in one place and up to date.

We had spreadsheet for members, volunteers, sponsors, events, and webinars. Everyone responsible for each of these activities would keep the spreadsheet to themselves. There were no cross checks and managing data was becoming very difficult.

We first started using LiveImpact for our database management and even though we have not quantified the savings, we have become a lot more efficient. All the data is easy to access for all our staff, consultants and volunteers. They can do what they need to do without having a conference call or requiring a meeting, which is a huge time savings.

We also use email and events features in LiveImpact. It’s great because now our event information is integrated with the database. Everything is synched and is in one place.

What made you select LiveImpact?
We had evaluated several CRM products, and the two main criteria for us was how the solution would work for us and cost. In some products even if we got free user licenses we would land up paying for consulting services. We felt we were being nickel and dimed!

We are a very diverse organization, we don’t have a main office, we all work from different locations and each one of us has our own computer versions, some of the most common cloud software products were not ideal for us.

LiveImpact got recommended to us. Once we saw the LiveImpact demo, the integration of data with different apps in LiveImpact, and the flexibility it offered to be customized to the way we do business, it made sense. Another advantage of LiveImpact is that we can manage all our events, and email and newsletters via the system. LiveImpact is designed with a nonprofit in mind. Even though corporates and nonprofits are both businesses, the way we do business is different.

The support we received from the LiveImpact team at the time of onboarding was outstanding. They asked us questions to understand how we operated, what we were trying to accomplish and understood what functionality we needed. I felt LiveImpact respected us as customers, and respected how we did our business and did not try to fit us into their mode.

At some of our networking events I tell women that it’s important to stay involved, connected and to continue to learn, and working with LiveImpact we found just that – a partner that connected with us, learnt our way of doing business, and implemented a customized solution that works for us.

Michelle is a LiveImpact consultant with 17+ years of experience in nonprofit management. Prior to consulting, she worked for a large public utility company as a Network Specialist. Michelle’s expertise includes nonprofit management, conference/event planning, software training and database design.