Women & Business Seminar to Highlight Achievements

By Don Wade

Leslie Johnson will be one of the panelists at the Women & Business Seminar Feb. 27 at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, but she is not nearly as focused on what she might say during the panel discussion as she is what she might hear.

“I’d love to be a sponge and hear other people’s (views),” said Johnson, who is assistant director of Hutchison Leads at the Hutchison School.

The 2014 Seminar Series is presented by The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc. The Women & Business seminar will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 27. To register, go to seminars.memphisdailynews.com. A wine-and-cheese reception will follow the event.


Amy Howell, CEO of Howell Marketing Strategies, will deliver the keynote address. Other panelists include Robbin Hutton, of counsel in the Memphis office of Jackson Lewis PC, and Linda Lauer, managing director of CBIZ MHM LLC.

Although Johnson is intent on listening during the program, she will have a lot to offer, too. She spent nine years working at First Tennessee Bank, and most recently held the position of recruiting team lead and supervised recruiters, the recruiting process, and did executive level recruiting.

Johnson, 42, says she finds the history-making success of General Motors CEO Mary Barra and Yahoo President and CEO Marissa Mayer “very inspiring.”

She also says their achievements, and those of many women right here in Memphis, make it easier for the girls she works with at Hutchison to dream big. From more than a decade working in banking, she knows that only recently did women start to land executive positions.

“For so long, it was a hard place to get to,” Johnson said.

In the Hutchison Leads program, she says during students’ freshmen year they learn how to identify their own strengths in leadership. Their sophomore year, they hear from some of Memphis’ most successful women: “They come in and share their experiences.”

Once the students are upperclassmen, they have opportunities for internships and to travel abroad. Johnson says they also try to teach the girls that leadership often means doing the hard thing, but that there is also room for different leadership styles.

“In the questions we give them, we will ask them if they feel like they want to be liked by everyone or if they think there are times you have to have a thick skin to make decisions,” she said.