Panel Recap: Mentoring the Next Generation


The first panel of the event was an in-depth discussion with leading female executives about mentoring the next generation of women leaders. The personal experiences they shared demonstrated the importance of having a mentor early in one’s career to provide the knowledge and guidance that’s invaluable in today’s complex business environment.

Shared insights from the event:

2021 Inspirational Women

Jenn McCabe, Consulting Partner, Business Outsourcing Services, Armanino: The next generation is looking for what prior generations were looking for. They want someone to share their experience in a way that informs them, so they can accelerate their career growth. They want guidance around handling the accumulation of skills and business acumen. They want someone to be honest with them about their shortfalls, too.

2021 Inspirational Women

Stacy D. Philips, Partner, Matrimonial & Family Law Practice Group, Blank Rome: I encourage everyone to seek to be a mentor and/or mentee. Although we primarily talked about more senior women mentoring younger women, mentoring across the sexes and ages can also be valuable. Mentors are important at any age. We all want to continue to grow and learn. Mentors can be peers of a similar age or can be younger than you. There is something you can learn from or teach anyone. Keep an open mind and seek out those that can advance your career.

McCabe: Leadership is a “continuing education” that we should all commit to. Every generation is differently motivated. I don’t know the answers in every case, so I personally do a couple things to learn about the person I am mentoring: a) I once had a “Millennial Whisperer” come into my company. I was the Founder/CEO and I was having a hard time figuring out how best to inspire the 45 people who worked for me. We did team exercises that were fascinating and super educational for me; b) I like to find out what people read, why they work, who they respect – because today’s mentorship is a lot more about getting to who a person is, rather than jamming them into a role no matter who they are.

2021 Inspirational Women

Linda Kornfeld, Partner and Vice Chair, Insurance Recovery Practice Group, Blank Rome: When talking to younger professionals, I’ve sometimes felt that I need to make it look like, as a woman who wants it all, you can have it all. The reality is, if you want success, you’ve got to work hard, and there are balancing acts involved. Today’s mentees don’t want me to “guild the lily” in terms of what it takes to get to where they want to be. There is a give-and-take if you want success, and you need to figure out where the give is and where the take is.

2021 Inspirational Women

Danone Simpson, President & CEO, Montage Insurance Solutions: What I have experienced is that Gen Y women are very independent, yet want straight talk, to be heard and need a sounding board to bounce off ideas and can work well in silos, so we need to communicate in person and listen well to them – pull them out. I find when they do ask for advice, including my daughter, I need to start with questions to help them come up with their own answers. So, listen and ask great questions, so the women in the next generations can come up with their own answers.

McCabe: At Armanino, we’ve created an Executive Sponsorship program. Through an industry-wide research survey, we learned our mid-level (manager) women were dropping out. Though we were not pushing them out and there was no real evidence of bias, they were simply opting to quit. We also found that men at that level reported that they were two times more likely to have a “sponsor” (not a mentor) in an influential position in the firm. Our program matches high-potential females with powerful and influential firm leaders for a year at a time. Those “sponsors” use their political capital to help the ladies get into the room! As this program gains influence, we are seeing more women get into partnership preparation.

Kornfeld: A mentor doesn’t have to be a mentor for all time. At different times in your career, you need different things and different mentors. As a young attorney, I had a mentor with a huge presence. At some point, I knew I was going to have to come out from under his wings to spread my own wings. If I’d waited too long under his wings, it would have inhibited my ultimate success. Figure out what you need from the mentoring relationship and when it is the right time to fly.

Simpson: Start with a mission statement – personal and professional. Even if you are a home CEO or co-CEO, set your boundaries, praise and get up under the wings of your leaders and partners in life. Learn from them, gain their trust and they WILL promote and care for you all the days of your life, as you will them.

Phillips: I believe it is really important for women in an organization to uplift other women within the organization. When I joined Blank Rome six years ago, I had an idea to host an annual conference for all of the firm’s women partners and clients. Five years later, it has been a game-changer for the firm. Beyond developing business, it has built strong bonds between the women partners across the firm, which has lifted up all of the women in the firm.

About the participants:

Moderator: Stacy D. Phillips

Partner, Matrimonial & Family Law Practice Group

Stacy D. Phillips is one of the country’s most well-known and respected family law practitioners, handling primarily high networth and high-profile divorce cases. She is known for her skilled persuasion, adept negotiation, aggressive advocacy, and compassion in representing her clients, whether in litigation, mediation, or collaborative divorce.

Stacy is an author, philanthropist, mentor, and sought-after speaker and commentator on family law and other issues in the news. She is consistently selected to the “Top 10 Southern California Super Lawyers” list, to Best Lawyers in America©, and to the “500 Most Influential People in L.A.” list by the Los Angeles Business Journal. In 2020, Stacy was named to both the “Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America” and “Lawdragon 500 Hall of Fame” lists. She was selected as a “Most Influential Woman Attorney” by the Los Angeles Business Journal from 2018 to 2021.

Linda Kornfeld

Partner and Vice Chair, Insurance Recovery Practice Group

Linda Kornfeld is one of the nation’s most prominent insurance recovery attorneys, representing corporate policyholders in highstakes litigation for more than 25 years. Using creative approaches in her trial and appellate practice, Linda assists her clients in the recovery of hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance assets. She is a strategic adviser to senior executives and in-house counsel on mitigating risk and maximizing insurance recoveries.

Linda is a sought-after speaker, media resource, and writer on women’s issues and complex litigation issues, and co-authored “A Policyholder’s Primer on Insurance,” which was published by the Association of Corporate Counsel. She has been named a “2021 Insurance Law Trailblazer” by the National Law Journal and a “Leading Lawyer” by The Legal 500 United States, as well as “California Star,” “National Litigation Star,” and “Top 250 Woman in Litigation” by Benchmark Litigation.

Danone Simpson

President & CEO

Founder and CEO of Montage Insurance Solutions with over twenty years’ experience in all lines of insurance, Danone has built an agency focused on employee benefit and property & casualty programs for the commercial and non-profit sectors. Under Danone’s leadership, the firm has partnered with over 100 carriers in order to find perfect insurance solutions for their clients. She has built a dynamic Service Program, Third-Party Administration Department, and My HR Summit, training clients on compliance monthly.

In 2012, she founded a sister company, Simpolicy, that handles small business, event insurance, travel insurance and Medicare.

Jenn McCabe

Consulting Partner, Business Outsourcing Services

Jenn has more than 25 years of outsourced accounting, finance and HR experience, with particular expertise in start-ups and the advertising and creative production industries. She is passionate about seeing companies utilize the latest accounting and HR technology to maximize their efficiency, productivity, and ultimately success.

Jenn has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Pepperdine University and is a member of several professional associations, including the National Society of Accountants, ProVisors and the Women’s Business Enterprise Network.