One Year of WIN Spotlight

One year ago, we introduced the first cut of "WIN Spotlight," an ongoing monthly interview series that celebrates inspirational women in our community. Our goal was to shine a ‘spotlight’ on the amazing accomplishments of the women in WIN and pass on some of the secrets behind their success as leaders. Each feature dug into the diverse perspectives, influencers, missions, drivers, and dreams of these leaders, and of course, shared practical tips. In honor of one year of WIN Spotlight and so many interesting and enlightening stories, tips, and anecdotes, we wanted to reflect some of our favorite takeaways from some of our favorite women in innovation…

On what makes a great innovation:

“When a solution solves a pain point that you didn’t know you had or in a way you didn’t expect, and raises the status quo for what’s next.” —Lauren

“Amazing execution. I think it’s sometimes underrated in the innovation community [...] The details really matter. And by that I mean, the concept for a new product or service must be great, but if an app takes too long to load or the sign-up process is confusing, then people won’t stick through with it.” —Lindsay


On creative rituals:

“I have some of my best ideas during yoga — I find that the physicality helps me to push the non-essentials away so that I can let my subconscious bubble up ideas and solutions to problems I’m thinking about to the top.” —Justine

“It’s about balancing alone time to think and immerse in content, with coming together as a group to kick around ideas. As hard as it can be to fit a brainstorm into your schedule sometimes, it’s ALWAYS worth it.” —Lauren

“I love starting off new projects with a search through the podcast library to see what comes up – it’s a nice way to get some instant perspective on an industry.” —Lauren

“I’m also deeply inspired by the creative communities I belong to, including Women in Innovation, the Design Gym, and current and former members of the Wharton Innovation & Design club. Even as an introvert, I get tremendous energy from meeting and swapping ideas with creatively-minded people who love learning about new things, thinking about the future, and are open to all possibilities.” —Justine


Advice for women in the innovation industry:

“The best ideas aren’t necessarily the loudest ones in the room. A diversity of perspectives is crucial to get to great ideas that will work for various audiences. That means the perspective you bring as a woman is incredibly valuable. I believe it also goes one step further — to be a champion for diversity and inclusion within your teams, company, and clients.” —Lindsay

“Trust your gut. Don’t be afraid to take strategic risks in your career, even if everyone is telling you to take the tried and true way.” —Justine

The best advice she’s received:

““Jump in, figure it out later.” —Molka

“My husband, Hussein, gave me one of the best advice when I was applying to graduate programs, and again when I was already at my MFA at Parsons and applying for summer internships. Every time I sat down to apply, I would tell myself the “best” places would never look at me, and so I immediately started looking at my second options as the places I deserved to be at. Hussein, thinking I was being absurd for not believing in myself, told me to suck it up and apply to the best of the best programs I dreamt of. He said, “If you don’t tell these people sitting somewhere else around the world that you exist, that you are passionate, that you are capable, how are they to know you exist?”. That stuck with me. Even if we fail in the end, we believe that we stand a chance, aim high, and try our luck.”  —Aya

“‘Whatever you water will grow’—I love this because it speaks to so many levels, whether it’s your day-to-day outlook or your path in life. It’s something you can take into a tough meeting to fuel your confidence, instead of nerves, or know that you’re making the right big decision, no matter what direction you choose to take.” —Lauren


On things to never leave the house without:

“My signature sunglasses ring that I never take off. I bought it during a summer that I lived in Berlin a number of years ago. Before I went, many people I deeply respected and trusted told me it was a career-ender (or at the very least, MBA-application killer) to quit my job and move to a foreign country, however temporary. Yet it ended up being transformative on both a professional and personal level—and, I got my MBA at Wharton and ended up where I am today! My ring is a continual reminder to trust myself, don’t be afraid to take risks, and to treat life as a never-ending adventure.” —Justine

A fundamental truth recently realized:

“It seems obvious, but I’ve come to appreciate the huge divide between activities that give me energy and those that deplete my energy. We’re all trained to focus on areas of strength and development goals, but it’s not the only way to evaluate where to spend time. It can be worthwhile to redirect ourselves away from things we’re good at but deplete us, and enjoy the things that provide energy, even if simply to provide momentum. And recognizing that people on a team derive energy from different things can keep everyone sane and greatly improves team dynamics!” —Agathe


On the moments that influenced who she is today:

“I can very quickly think of the four or five moments that define my story. The common denominator? Strong female leaders who saw something in me that I sometimes didn’t see myself, believed in me, and pushed me in interesting directions every time. I am so grateful for these women (hey Catherine, Jeanne, Rachel, Vanessa, Nicole!) and I’m proud of the leaps of faith that I sometimes had to take to be where I am today. These ladies not only have an influence on where I am today, but also inspire the type of leader I want to become.” —Molka


Read them all here:

Lauren Furgason, ?What If!

Justine Lai, August

Lindsay Liu, Work & Co

Molka Fendri, Smart Design

Aya Jaffar,

Agathe Blanchon-Ehrsam, Vivaldi


Photos and interviews by Katie Burwick, post compiled by Katie Burwick and Emma Anderson.

WIN: Women in Innovation Copyright (c) 2019 All rights reserved. This content may not be reproduced or repurposed without written permission from WIN: Women in Innovation (501(c)3). This content, including the exercise and blog post, is provided for your personal use only.

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