Conference event

Impact Starts with Awareness: 2024 Simmons Leadership Conference

By Sue Scerbo, Sr. Manager of Public Relations and Communications

The day you are born and the day you know why you were born are the two most important days of your life, according to Maggie Cook, founder of Maggie’s Salsa and keynote speaker at the 45th Simmons Leadership Conference in Boston. Born and raised in an orphanage in Mexico, Cook dreamed vividly and intently of another life, one in which she would not have to go hungry as she and the other children sometimes did. Cook said she has been able to seize opportunities in her life using strategies to focus her mind and pay attention to her purpose. “You are so much more powerful than you think,” she emphasized.

Making life choices that are authentic to ourselves was a common theme at the conference, held April 3 at Hynes Convention Center in Boston. When we do this, we can fulfill our potential as women, and we help advance the inclusivity of the organizations in which we work.

With the theme “creating impact,” this year’s conference featured an impressive line-up of speakers who shared practical wisdom and actionable insights that can help advance inclusivity, equitable opportunity, and gender parity. The speakers included writer and TV host Padma Lakshmi, Change Enthusiasm author Cassandra Worthy, Rent the Runway CEO Jennifer Hyman, legendary feminist activist and writer Gloria Steinem, and comedian and former The Daily Show host Trevor Noah. Reflecting on how they have realized their own potential, the speakers talked about ways to harness the power of our own emotions and intuition to create impact in our own lives and the lives of others. 

Cassandra Worthy, a self-professed “change enthusiast,” encourages anyone going through a time of change to be open to the feelings brought about by the experience. “Allow the emotions of change to exist and find the opportunity in change – follow your curiosity,” she said. Worthy also shared notable advice given to her by a former manager, “You can be bitter, or you can be better.” These words sparked the realization in Worthy that she had the power to control how she is affected by change.

Olympus women at conference

Olympus Corporation of the Americas Women's Employee Resource Group members attended the 2024 Simmons Leadership Conference in Boston. Back row from left: Julianna Uresch, Brittany Donovan, Kolby Hebert, Kristin Pic, Sue Scerbo, Yadira Morejon, and Juliana da Silva. Front row from left: Alex Price, Maggie Vaccaro, Lindsey Turcotte, and Deanna Raub.

Rounding out the day was a conversation with Gloria Steinem and Trevor Noah, moderated by Susan McKenty Day, CEO of Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership. Difference is a blessing as we learn from difference, not from sameness, said Steinem. Noah talked about the responsibility male allies must play in helping to move our societies towards gender equality. 

Fourteen Olympus employees participated in the conference, eleven in person and three online. The Women’s Employee Resource Group, with support from OCA President and CEO Julien Sauvagnargues, made it possible for employees to attend by covering the cost of the registration fee.  

“The advancement of women at Olympus is important to the future of the company, and it is important to me as my wife and I raise two young women,” said Sauvagnargues. “We have concrete goals as an organization to increase the gender diversity of our management teams globally as part of our ESG (Environment, Social, Government) targets. The work of the Women’s ERG and its members helps support the development of Olympus women through professional learning and networking opportunities like the Simmons Leadership Conference.”

Key Take-aways from Olympus Attendees


“Coaching up – I want to understand the motivators of the individual and the success they care most about and then link my behavior to their motivators. I want to find out what are they striving for and align that with what I’m looking for.”  

- Paula Ketelaar, Director of Advanced Sourcing, Operations, and Women’s ERG Co-Lead

“I hope to utilize the change enthusiasm growth cycle presented by Cassandra Worthy to help my direct reports to move through changes while growing through them. I'll also implement the 1-to-10 concept presented by Susan MacKenty Brady at my weekly team meetings to check in with the team and encourage them to be present, energetic and open minded.”  

- Juliana da Silva, Professional Education Manager, Medical and Scientific Affairs


“I am going to work on understanding what my team members value and what their mission is. This will help to ensure alignment of the team's values and missions to create a more successful working dynamic. It will also help me to be a more effective leader when trying to motivate and inspire those team members towards a common goal.”

- Lindsey Turcotte, Program Manager in Research and Development, Olympus Surgical Technologies of America

“My top take-away from the conference is being aware of how I show up each day for my team—how I navigate the emotional signals for success. The red-light signal serves as a red flag, a trigger within our emotions. Having the ability to acknowledge a red signal allows for the opportunity, which is the yellow-light signal. Here we acknowledge and invite the emotion. We are led to the green-light signal, making an inspired decision.” 

- Yadira Morejon, Territory Manager for Endotherapy, Olympus America, Inc.


“Change should be viewed as an opportunity. When building something new, you have to make it a team sport—attract people who are motivated by the same mission but who are fundamentally different from each other. Focus on appreciating the journey rather than just trying to reach the goal.” 

- Deanna Raub, Executive Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Talent Management, and EM, Olympus Corporation of the Americas

“I plan to understand other people's signal (feeling towards change). People don't wake up in the morning choosing to be difficult or make others' lives miserable! Then I hope to start to identify the opportunities and make the conscious choice on how to influence and make an impact. Doing this now with my teams!”

- Kolby Hebert, Senior Project Manager, Project Management Organization, Olympus Surgical Technologies of America

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