Women’s Leadership Summit: Ready, Set, Go!

Celebrate International Women’s Day with inspiring women who have been where you are. They’ve broken through the glass ceiling to successful lives and careers. Now, they’re here to show you exactly how to get there too.

The 2022 Women’s Leadership Summit includes a mix of panel discussions, social networking, informal mentoring moments, and Q&As. Each is led by successful women business leaders and young women from across the country. These women have been hand-selected from a number of important industries, each bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience from their unique perspectives to the topics discussed. The celebration culminates with a special cocktail hour featuring our signature Executive Auction.

Register HERE.

Play Like a Girl’s executive auction is made possible by top leaders and senior executives from companies like Asurion, Bridgestone Americas, HCA, and others who graciously donate their time to be auctioned off to raise funds in support of our work. Each year, this premier fundraising and networking event offers hundreds of women the opportunity to compete for exclusive time with corporate leaders and C-suite executives across all industries and sectors. But wait – that’s not all! The highlight of our evening are the young women impacted by your contribution to and support of Play Like a Girl.

Proceeds benefit Play Like a Girl’s mentorship programming providing role models, mentors, tools and resources for middle school girls to confidently pursue a future in STEM.

Register HERE.

Success is a Mindset

Women’s Leadership Summit keynote speaker Merary Simeon on gaining confidence and paying it forward

It’s finally here. In just four short days, we’ll be saying, “Welcome to the 2021 Women’s Leadership Summit.” In the weeks leading up, we’ve been sharing the stories of some of the inspiring women (and men!) who will be sharing their wisdom with us on Friday.

You’ve heard from Jesse Lovejoy, Amy Bream, Katie Goyette and Linda Hope. Now it’s time you get to know Merary Simeon, a former Play Like a Girl board member, a human resources executive at PepsiCo and one of the nicest, most encouraging, most courageous women we’ve ever met.

Merary will be delivering the keynote address on Friday, and from what she’s told us, we better have the Rocky theme song queued up. “I want women to recognize that they already have everything they need to succeed,” she says. “I want them to understand that they own their own narrative. I want them to know they were made to change the game!” 

In addition to speaking, she also is lending her time and talents to our Executive Auction, which gives lucky winning bidders one-on-one mentoring sessions with executives, athletes and other leaders.

We caught up with Merary last week to learn more about her professional journey and the central role mentorship has played in her life. Catch the highlights from our conversation below and then get your ticket for the Women’s Leadership Summit.

On working at PepsiCo

While the last year has been a great awakening for many companies that previously placed little value on diversity and inclusion, Merary says PepsiCo has been focused on these issues for a while. In 1947, the company created its first Black sales team. In the 50s PepsiCo named the first woman to its board of directors. In 2006, an Indian-American woman, Indra Nooyi, became only the fifth CEO in the company’s history. Today, women represent just over 40% of the company’s managerial global workforce, and the goal is to hit 50% by 2025.

“We believe that we thrive because of our diversity,” Merary explains. “We still have work to do, but I’m confident in the work this company [PepsiCo] continues to do to empower every woman.”

One of those ways is through a pair of employee resources groups—one for all women and another specifically for women of color. In addition to being a community where women (and allies!) can connect, learn and celebrate together, it’s also a way to influence workplace policies and the company’s impact in the community. In celebration of Women’s History Month, these groups chose to highlight Play Like a Girl, and for every $25 employee donation, the company will match it. (Thanks, ladies!)

If you’re at a company that offers ERGs, Merary encourages you to get involved—even if you don’t identify with that community group. If your company doesn’t offer them (many small- and mid-sized workplaces don’t), she encourages you to seek out this type of community in other ways. “There are many community organizations that have women networking opportunities,” she says. “Play Like a Girl’s Women’s Leadership Summit is a great example.”

On finding her confidence

In addition to being an executive at PepsiCo, Merary is also a sought-after public speaker and leads transformational workshops for women. But she didn’t come by these talents easily. While taking college classes, this Puerto Rican native also was learning English. She spent some of her early career suffering from imposter syndrome—the belief that she lacked what it took to succeed while feeling undeserving of the praises she received.

“It’s not easy to stop listening to the negative voices,” she says. “If I would have believed some of the things people said to me about where I would be today, I would not be here today.”

She credits mentors with helping her beat the feelings of inadequacy. My mentors played a powerful role in helping me see in myself what I couldn’t see by myself. Now I know you can’t wait for permission to invest in yourself. You can’t allow anyone to bully you with their limited imagination.”

On being a mentor

Even early in her career, Merary found ways to pay it forward. She started by meeting with students at her former high school. “English was a second language for them,” she says. “I didn’t know English that well at the time and I was going to college. They saw me trying. We all have the opportunity to empower others, no matter our career level. You do not need a title to inspire.”

Despite taking on more responsibilities at PepsiCo, Merary still teaches a monthly leadership course at a local church to empower undereducated women to become entrepreneurs.

And of course, Merary is looking forward to meeting her mentee from the Executive Auction.

“I’ve never been part of an event like this and I’m really looking forward to it,” she says. “I can’t wait to meet my mentee and help show her how capable she is of realizing her full potential.”

Why Purpose and Mentorship Matter

Meet Linda Hope, a panelist at our Women’s Leadership Summit on March 19.

When Linda Hope started her Beautycounter business almost six years ago, she was confident her sales pitch about clean beauty products would resonate with others. Only it didn’t—at least not at first.

That feeling of failure wasn’t familiar for this Miami-born businesswoman, wife and mother who was accustomed to success. But, thanks to a strong North Star, she did what any smart and savvy woman would—she picked herself up and kept at it. 

“It was a defining moment in my career,” she says. “It felt like a failure, but it was actually the moment in which I decided to choose my dream over my fear.”

Linda will be participating in next week’s Women’s Leadership Summit, sharing her tips for how to create personal wealth - even in a pandemic. She joins more than 30 leaders donating a one-hour mentoring session to the Play Like a Girl Executive Auction. We caught up with her recently to discuss the power of a strong purpose and the role mentorship has played throughout her career.

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: What’s the best career advice you’ve gotten?

LINDA: It came from one of my mentors, who was a top executive at a Fortune 100 company at the time. She told me, [bctt tweet="“Never underestimate the power of networking and always leverage the discipline of following up.” That's advice @BeautycounterHQ ambassador @LindaDHope received from her mentor 20 years ago. Hear more at #NewRulesNewWorld Summit, March 19th." username="iplaylikeagirl"] This was a seed she planted in me over 20 years ago and one that is still bearing fruit today. My career success since then has greatly depended on the practice of her words of wisdom.

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally?

LINDA: When I launched my clean beauty business, the topic of toxic ingredients in personal care products in my community was nonexistent. As a woman of color with an audience that looks a lot like me, and considering the disparity in our toxic burden, this was a much-needed conversation that I needed to initiate. But when I did, I received a lot of objection, rejection and opposition. I learned that you have to have extraordinary patience in the process and belief in the mission you are carrying out to remain steadfast and focused. Unbeknown to many, there’s a lot of sweat and emotional equity that goes into being a trailblazer. I thank God for my strong ‘why’ and commitment to my purpose because without it, I could have easily been deterred.

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: You have a daughter. How does she influence how you show up in the world as a business leader?

LINDA: My daughter is my greatest inspiration, and I am committed to being her best role model. I want to teach her by my example, not just by my words. Growing up, I was definitely more impacted by my parents’ actions than by their words. The work ethic and business acumen I have developed over the years was first instilled in me by my father and mother. I witnessed their determination and resilience in business, and it inspired me to become the entrepreneur and leader I am today.  

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: The theme of the summit is “New Rules for a New World.” What do you believe are some of the long-term implications (good and not-so-good) of the COVID-19 pandemic for women? What are your new rules for this new world—as a wife, mother and business owner?

LINDA: I have never experienced a crisis that has significantly impacted our society like the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time in my life, I witnessed the world shut down and saw some of the busiest cities become ghost towns. From the loss of loved ones to the loss of livelihoods, this unprecedented time has presented us with challenges that we could never have imagined. The amount of loss that we have had to endure is devastating. As women, we often carry the heavier load of such loss and are hit the hardest. Studies have shown how women are more vulnerable economically considering the inequalities that already exist in the workforce. Also, the job loss rate is higher among women compared to our male counterparts.

But I must say, during this pandemic our resiliency and ability to pivot as women has been revealed. Many of us have become entrepreneurs during this time and have pursued more meaningful work. We figured out a way to thrive and leverage our virtual platforms. We have also gained a new appreciation for our health, our time and relationships with those we love. Having the flexibility to grow a business from the comfort of my home is what I appreciate most. In this new world, I will continue to create opportunities, and not just wait for them. I hope to make an impact in the lives of those I touch by continuing to unapologetically pursue the best version of myself as a mother, wife and business owner.

PLAY LIKE A GIRL: Let’s talk mentoring. Why is it important for girls and women to seek out mentors?

LINDA: I am where I am today because of the mentorship and guidance from others that have graciously poured into me. I once read a quote that said the greatest legacy anyone can leave behind is to positively impact others. And one of the greatest values of surrounding yourself with great mentors is that you can learn in less than an hour what it took them a lifetime to figure out.

Bidding is now open for the Executive Auction, and there’s still time to get your ticket for this can’t-miss event. Join Linda and other successful, emerging and future women leaders for the Women’s Leadership Summit, happening on March 19.

Women’s Leadership Summit


Join us for an inspiring (and super fun) afternoon of chats, workshops, mentoring, and more devoted to championing women professionals - at all ages and stages of your career. We will tackle the hard-hitting conversations about the future of work from pivoting to digital to remote leadership, reimagining life in our new reality and so much more! It’s time for some big-picture strategy, so let’s plan for what’s next, together. And, check out our fun workshops and the FREE mentorship opportunity for girls too.

Proceeds benefit Play Like a Girl’s Meet + Mentoring virtual mentoring program for middle school girls.

Secure your spot HERE