4 Takeaways from Qualcomm's Women's Conference
‘Ships in the harbor are safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.’ With this powerful quote by John A. Shedd, Kate Atkin --- trainer, speaker, facilitator, and author of The Confident Manager --- walked the audience at Qualcomm’s Women’s Conference through how “impostor chatter” can be a factor that holds someone back from leaving safe harbor. She invited the audience to venture out and put up the sails to do something different.
Organized by Qualcomm’s Inclusion and Diversity Team in collaboration with the Qwomen employee network, the virtual event focused on celebrating “The Power of You.” Qualcomm’s first ever Women’s Conference focused on connecting, inspiring, and empowering employees while sharing insights and experiences.
The forum included more than 60 internal and external speakers with diverse experiences, different roles and career journeys, as well as cultural backgrounds. Qualcomm President and CEO, Cristiano Amon, gave opening remarks and shared the company’s 2025 representation goals, which include increasing representation of Women in leadership by 15%, increasing underrepresented minorities (URM) in leadership by 15%, and increasing overall URM representation by 20% percent.
The common themes throughout every fireside chat, keynote speaker and shared personal experience were the importance of fostering innovation, encouraging empowerment, and navigating careers. Here are four takeaways from Qualcomm’s first ever Women’s Conference:
1. It is not failure- it’s a learning opportunity
Most people feel apprehensive about potential failure. However, all agreed that so much learning occurs when mistakes are made and learning from those mistakes is crucial.
While failure can be a common part of life, it is important to understand failed experiences as growth opportunities and to work on characteristics like persistence and resilience to continue to learn throughout one’s professional path. Through this lens, failure can be seen as a steppingstone for continuous improvement.
2. Stay curious and keep learning
Speakers highlighted the value that lifelong learning has provided their career journeys. Curiosity and exploring new potential areas of interest can lead, in some cases, to new professional opportunities and pathways that may have not been previously considered. Curiosity and the motivation to continually learn will assist in becoming more aware of strengths and weaknesses. Learning throughout life and the pursuit of exploration is not only fun but allows individuals to push the boundaries on what can be done and what they can do.
3. Preparation is key.
Each panelist stressed the importance of preparation – whether for a meeting, a presentation or for a project, thinking thoughtfully, critically, and thoroughly about the problem to be solved. Doing so, will help ensure the success of the activity.
4. Speak with confidence
As women navigating executive and Board level responsibilities, where the room is often filled with men, panelists discussed the importance of owning what you do and what you say through transparency and clear communication. They also talked about the importance of just being yourself and confidently owning the fact that you bring unquestionable value to the table.
Qualcomm’s first ever Women’s Conference was one of the Company’s latest efforts to continually foster a diverse and inclusive workplace to continue to promote the innovations that will power the future. Vicki Mealer- Burke, our Chief Diversity Officer, thanked the organizing teams for their tireless effort and shared that this vision will continue to grow. “We will build this up as a tradition for the years to come,” she highlighted. The audience emphasized how engaging the speakers were and how interesting and valuable the content covered was. One attendee said, “Absolutely loving this. It’s like a virtual Grace Hopper but with Qualcomm women.”
John Augustus Shedd (1859-1928) was an American author and professor who wrote “Salt from my Attic”
 For these purposes, leadership is the Principal and above level in technical roles, and Director and above in non-technical roles For technical positions, “URM” includes Black, Latinx, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, and American Indian or Native American.
For non-technical positions, “URM” includes Black, Latinx, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, American Indian or Native American, and Asian.