2018 GenNext Recap - She Runs It
Event Recaps

2018 GenNext Recap

By She Runs It

Written by: Kydee Williams, YE Member 

To be young, gifted, and successful is a dream for many, and this year’s She Runs It GenNext Awards at Forbes on Fifth proved that it can actually be attained. The GenNext Awards are a celebration of the next generation of female leaders between the ages of 25 and 35 in the business and entertainment worlds. Attendees ranged from junior to senior executives of various industries, who were more than open and willing to use the stories from the GenNext recipients as a teaching moment for their own careers.

The event kicked off with a keynote speech from Forbes Under 30 recipient, Seema Bansal, owner of Venus ET Fleur (a million dollar, global flower delivery company that was conceived after Seema received a horrible flower delivery from her now fiancé). “It’s so crazy to think that from this disappointment, our lives were changed forever,” said Bansal. She did not have support from her family, but was optimistic about her vision to change the flower industry. Unbeknownst to her, she would not only change it; she’d disrupt it.

“Just like love, business requires big risks.” Seema’s speech ended with practical takeaways that can be applied to anyone’s career path:

  1. Have a Positive Mindset; “It’s easy to put doubt and fear into everything especially when you risked so much, but staying positive and imagining the outcome you want works.”
  2. Work Life Balance; “Burning out didn’t serve us, nor did it serve our business.”
  3. Build the Right Team; “You can’t do it all.”


The event progressed with a business panel moderated by Jenny Rooney, Editor of the CMO Network, Forbes, and an entertainment panel moderated by Bonnie Fuller, President & Editor-in-Chief, Hollywood Life. The panel included topics ranging from women’s leadership to vulnerability. Here are some of the best quotes of the night from each of the phenomenal nominees:

On using storytelling for brands: 

“Every brand has a story but every brand thinks they are the story.” -Melanie Deziel, Founder, StoryFuel

On Work Life Balance: 

“Find what challenges you, brings you joy, & really make sure that you’re making time for that in your life.” -Lindsay Farrell, Sr. Marketing Manager, FreshDirect

On being an effective marketer:

“Always push the envelope when innovating. Part of being an effective marketer is knowing your audience…What are those crazy super fans doing? Because once you gleam these insights from their behavior, that’s when creativity ignites and that’s where successful digital campaigns come from.” -Emily Giannusa, Director, Digital & Social Media, HBO

On Bravery: 

“What I believe bravery stems from is when you face adversity and you find your strength. You have a point of view and you stick with it, push, ask questions, and keep pushing, even if people don’t understand right away. That’s what gives you courage.” -Nancy Hoque, Product Marketing Manager, Symantec

On strength, positivity, and determination in the midst of challenges: 

“My biggest source of strength is my friends and family…A lot of women in this organization (She Runs It) have been great supporters of mine. My biggest source of inspiration is my son who is 18 months old. He led me to detect my cancer so I am forever grateful & I work to be a good role model to him so I can lead by example.” -Tracy Keller, Sr. Account Executive, Disney

On reciprocal passion: 

“You have to have passion and the client has to have passion for what you are creating as well.” -Natasha Maasri, Creative Director, The&Partnership

On vulnerability to succeed in work and life: 

“Vulnerability gets a bad rap. It’s often seen as a sign of weakness, especially in corporate culture. To me, it can be the ultimate sign of strength. It propels me in all aspect of my life in a variety of ways…my ability to use vulnerability to work through emotion, and share with those around you.” -Lindsey Schmidt, Managing Director, mcgarrybowen

On using comedy to build connections: 

“Making people laugh is sort of the first goal…some of the best conversations I’ve had after shows would be with people who are very different from me. There’s a connection when you make someone laugh.” -Ashley Nicole Black, Actress/Comedian/Writer

On women having a seat at the table: 

“There’s one script per year that I read where I find a woman I can relate to, and I read a lot of scripts. That’s unacceptable to me. Women need to feel comfortable not only with talking to other women in the room, but with really being honest with the men in their lives and industries.” -Kayli Carter, Actress

On the ups and downs of being an artist:

“Being an artist is not easy. It has a lot of ups and downs. It can drive you crazy and make you feel that it is both your passion and also what is ruining your life!” -Phillipa Soo, Actress/Singer

On acting on stage: 

“It’s the energy. The show is nothing without the audience to engage with and that kind of energy is why I like the stage so much.” -Mandi Masden, Actress/Writer

On the lack of women in leadership positions within the dance world: 

“We get so used to not using our voice. I never thought that I could be in a leadership position because the Ballet World is male-dominated…I think it is because we are seen on stage as this glamorous thing. But now I know that I can direct a company and I know I can do it really well.” -Tiler Peck, International Ballerina