Networking Nirvana? Fond memories of the Honeywell Women’s Council….. January 6, 2010

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One of Shareology’s key interest areas is networking.   Recently, she has been remembering one of the strongest networking groups she has ever been a part of:  The Honeywell Women’s Council.

During Shareology’s 10 year run at Honeywell, she spent three years on the Honeywell Women’s Council; for two of those years she served as Programs Chair.   A few standouts:

1.  The use of strategic planning  Honeywell in general was strong on strategic planning.  The process was integrated throughout the company.   The retail business unit had a  three-day summer session once a year to develop plans for the coming year.  In the fall, the entire division created the strategic plan for the next year; Shareology was a part of that process and presented on the marketing communications plans for the RBU. 

But that was all a tad corporate.   And as strong as it was, there was an inclination (incorrect) to think that the plan got clipped in a three-ring binder and tossed on a credenza for the rest of the year.  The Honeywell Women’s Council took the strategic planning process and integrated it into the group.   If you were Programs Chair, you couldn’t begin to understand what you were going to do that year until you knew what the strategic direction for the Council would be that year.  Smaller than corporate, yes, but much more immediate.  It taught me to love the strategic planning process from beginning to end and back again.

2.   The sheer talent of the women on the HWC  To give but a few examples, one woman left Honeywell, taking the public relations function with her, and began a firm bearing her name that continues to this day to stand tall in Minnesota public relations.   Another council member left Minneapolis to run a division of Honeywell in the eastern US, served not one, but two terms as a Minnesota State Commissioner, and is now head of the Minnesota Better Business Bureau.  A third council member served as Chairman of the Board of the Guthrie Theater.  To be working as peers with these high achieving women was a strong, empowering experience.

3.  Miscellaneous HWC joys  With the Honeywell Women’s Council, you just never knew what would happen next.  One year, we were host to a group of women from Russia.   To say that culture shock existed is to put it mildly.   The Russian women entered a room at Honeywell Golden Valley filled with women who made their living by designing, marketing and selling electronic controls.  In Russia, such a thing as The Round did not exist, let alone a programmable thermostat.  In Russia, if you  were too hot, you opened a window.  If you were too cold, you closed a window.  That was temperature control in Russia.   Yet we listened and we learned.  This happened in the 1980’s, and we thought often of these Russian women, as the economy and politics in their country created changes that we could not hope to imagine.

So there it is:  Shareology loves the Honeywell Women’s Council.   That three-year experience was a key building block; in fact, after her HWC term, Shareology had so much spare time on her hands, that she decided to “take a few courses….”   Well, dear readers, before you know it, Shareology was back in academia, beginning her MBA road.

Recently, Shareology met a former President of the HWC, and started glowing in memory land.  It dawned on Shareology that these women were still in existence, out in the world they have now made such an impact.   How to reach these alumni?   One answer sprang to mind immediately.   A LinkedIn group!   It started a couple of months ago with a mere two members.   We’ve located more alumni and they join us on LinkedIn under the group:   Honeywell Women’s Council Alumni.    If you know anyone who was at Honeywell and on the Council, direct them to LinkedIn….. they will get a joyous welcome! 

Kay Roseland   @KayLoire


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