It’s no secret there’s a shortage of female talent at the highest echelons of the business world. It took until 2014 for the percentage of female Fortune 500 CEOs to pass 5 percent. But if Kathryn Meany has her say, that number will soon skyrocket. Meany, director of the Women’s Leadership Institute at Manhattanville College School of Business in Purchase, is on a mission to help women develop the skills they need to lead.
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Meany understands what it takes for women to take a seat at the table in corporate America. She began her career in 1989 working with Fortune 500 companies in financial services, an industry in which women were not well represented. “It was a very tough environment,” she says. “There’s been progress, but we want to be sure there is progress through all industries.” Meany eventually moved on to design and facilitate development programs for Merrill Lynch, Reuters, and Deutsche Bank, and in 2009, she founded Phoenix Learning Solutions in Ossining.
Now, she looks to use her past to inform students’ futures. This fall, the Institute—which opened in January and offers educational programs, mentoring, coaching, and training for women—will launch Lead with Distinction, a graduate-level certificate program for mid-level female professionals and managers of high-potential female employees. The program will offer about 20 students the chance to learn skills such as financial acumen, leadership, executive presence, negotiation, and strategic thinking.
The planned certificate program has already gotten positive feedback from local corporations and entrepreneurs who see it as a potential pipeline for talent. Now, she says, it’s up to women to take advantage of the opportunity to develop their talents. “No one is going to do it for us,” she says.