By Lauren Ridlon
On Monday March 14, 2016 Georgetown welcomed Carly Fiorina, whose IPPS-sponsored “Reflections on Running” talk spoke intimately with students about the challenges of running for political office, the triumphs of success in the business realm, and persevering through a cancer diagnosis and the death of a child. She gave the perspective of a woman leader who had to deal with questions about shoe designers and a fellow candidate making tactless comments about her appearance. By talking with GU students, Mrs. Fiorina opened the window into her reasons for running but also took the time to guide and inspire. Justin McCartney (’19) states that he was impressed by her ability to inspire confidence and optimism in the future of America
Moderator Mo Elleithee asked Mrs. Fiorina to begin the talk by discussing her early career in business. Mrs. Fiorina takes great pride in her rise from secretary to where she is now. She addressed students by saying that anyone interested in participating in politics should serve jobs in other fields first. The more knowledge and variety one can bring to politics, the better, she advised, but also remarked, “don’t wait for the perfect job, just get a job.”
After leaving law school because she “just hated it”, she began her career at AT&T and worked her way up the corporate ladder to guide a spinoff company called Lucent. Her leadership ability and impressive understanding of the growth of technology convinced Hewlett-Packard to hire her as CEO. After leaving the company with questions and critics in tow, she entered politics beginning with leadership roles supporting the government. Most recently in 2015, she set her limitless gaze higher- she announced her Republican candidacy for President.
This limitless gaze has become characteristic of Mrs. Fiorina. Turning to her audience, she remarked that America is losing its sense of “limitless possibility.” She states that she has and will continue to champion this outlook, because “I think we carried a powerful message. And I’ll continue to talk about it.” This quote really resonated with Aaron Bennet (’19) who, even though his political views differ, feels she has a lot to offer the Republican party as well as America.
Not only is Mrs. Fiorina unique because she is a strong woman in politics with a background in business, but also because she is a politician not jaded by politics. Mrs. Fiorina created an open and light-hearted environment, reaching out to both parties, both genders. She delivered her message, not her party. Summed up nicely by Alex Sideropolous, Director of Communications at Georgetown University College Republicans, “She was even better than I thought she would be. She is an inspiration to conservatives and liberals alike.”
The Georgetown community was very lucky to have Mrs. Fiorina on campus, not only as a leader in business and politics, but also as a woman leader. A woman who is as intelligent, confident and experienced as Mrs. Fiorina is an excellent example of what a woman in politics and business should work towards. What is most impressive about Mrs. Fiorina is that as a female leader, she does not divide the line between herself and men. "Gender’s only role in politics or business is that it offers diversity in ideas" says Kendall Silwonuk ('19). "Mrs. Fiorina stressed her experience and her accomplishments, not her gender. She seemed to believe that there is no reason gender should play a role in leading."