Female Leadership: Bacardi Execs and Friends Share Secrets

When it comes to female leadership, women who get to the top don’t do it alone.

Whether you are in a big or small company, you get to the top with help from others and when you get there, you need to help others get there, too.

At the Bacardi S.H.E. Summit, more than 500 women learned how to make that happen. The summit gathers women (and some men)  to discuss female leadership and unleash the potential of women in the workplace. Here’s the advice of the experts who spoke throughout the day. 

Within the workplace

Claudia Chen, founder of the S.H.E Summit, said: Big companies are one of most powerful vehicles to accelerate change. “If women make one micro action to improve the workplace for other women, it can have a ripple effect throughout an entire company,” she said.

So…like Nike says, Just Do It. 

Ashtin Berry, food and beverage activist, said: for those with privilege, men and women, lend it to others. Ashtin Berry speaker at SHE Bacardi SummitWhen speaking at a meeting, acknowledge other women’s good ideas and when asked about another women by a manager, talk her up by saying something like…“I don’t know her well but had this interaction and it was positive.” Berry calls it “conversational sponsorship” and defines it as an easy way to make the space for women in companies equitable and safer.




Within the financial world

Ashley Feinstein Gerstley, founder of the Fiscal Femme, said: “We need more women to be wealthy.”

She offered lots of reasons why.  “Women need to control wealth, they invest it in families and communities. If more women were wealthy, more venture funding would go to women-owned businesses. We need women to be wealthy because we face many big problems we are missing out on half the population bringing potential solutions. When women are wealthy, we all benefit.”

So, how do we get wealthy?

We need to 1) track our spending. 2) Pay ourselves first by regularly putting even a small amount of money into savings. 3) Have regular money check ins to review our spending, savings and goals.

Within the business world

SHE Summit Bacardi 2018


KC Kavanagh, global chief communications officer for Bacardi, said: “As women, to get to the top you have to apply for jobs or promotions even when you’re not convinced you’re 100 percent qualified. “Don’t get so caught up in the rules that it holds you back…be okay with figuring it out.”

Kathy Caprino, International Executive Coach, said: “Look at where you feel less than confident, and close that gap. It can be by taking one small step, like taking a class in statistics or studying research methodology.” Change the way you talk to yourself to recognize that every word you speak is going to either motivate or diminish you. Instead of “I can’t do this” say “In this moment I’m not able to do it but I can learn.”

Emilie Aries, Founder and CEO of Bossed UP, said: “Good leaders are assertive and powerful and hyper confident. Men are more likely to overestimate their abilities and women to underestimate them. As women get more senior, they need to help young women be as confident as they can and should be and give younger women a safe space to share their voices.”

Within the world of being a game-changer


Dune Ives and Shannon Allen


Shannon Allen, founder of Grown, said:  “Being a change maker is affording everyone an opportunity to do their best work. Some naturally are born on third base and don’t realize that others aren’t. Giving people of all backgrounds access makes you a game changer.”

To make things happen, just get started, Allen said. “Do not apologize for being in the room. You have to demand your voice is heard and you can’t sacrifice your goals to appease others in the room.”

Set a goal. Write it down. Cross it off. Make another goal. Keep going.

Dune Ives, Executive Director of Lonely Whale, said: It is easier to be a game changer than one would imagine. Every day we have choices that test us, she said. “You need to ask,  ‘Am I going to live my life in comfort or am I going to allow myself to be uncomfortable and speak for someone else?’  No one should sit by and let injustice happen. Create your intention and take a step forward. It doesn’t matter if that step is right or wrong, just do something until you feel you have done what you can, and then pass the baton.”

Within our personal lives


Heather Monahan, CEO of Boss in Heels and author of the Confidence Creator, said: “We all struggle with confidence. “Confidence is a choice. Everything we say can either build our confidence or chip away at it.”




Within the meeting room

Claudia Pertierra, group director of Brand Engagement for TEAM Enterprises, said: “Even senior leaders run into client conflicts. To be a standout leader, you have to be able to walk into the room to meet with the client and say I understand we are having a problem. I’m as concerned as you are. Let’s fix this together.”

Pertierra notes on your way up the corporate ladder, “Not everything goes smoothly all the time. You have to know your business and defend it, but also know how to be diplomatic.”

Wesley Cullen, General Manager of Casa Bacardi, rocks a mohair, even though she works in the corporate Wesley Cullen of Casa Bacardiworld. She walks into a meeting room with confidence.  Cullen said: “I continue to put myself in situations where I am uncomfortable. For me, that works. When you decided to own your unique look you have control. If I am not good fit somewhere. Then it’s not a good fit for me.”


Bacardi is a strong advocate for advancing women in leadership and has a conscious effort underway to increase its existing gender diversity at all levels. Let’s hope other companies and the men and women think consciously about this too.

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