This summer, I had the opportunity to revisit my alma mater and attend the Smith College Leadership Consortium. It’s a custom designed leadership program specifically designed to develop and advance women in business.

Faculty from Harvard, Wharton, and Tuck business schools and other thought leaders led interactive sessions focusing on business and wellness topics. I learned about business strategies, negotiation, communicating vision and forging stronger relationships on my team and at the company.

The all-woman environment at Smith focuses on the unique needs and challenges faced by women in business. Having spent the last few years organizing various technology meet-ups, I was already aware of the dynamics of a mix gender group and how the conversation changes drastically when the men are absent.  And I appreciated how this program allowed me to hear candid stories of accomplished, successful women navigating tricky politics in the workplace.

I was most surprised to hear that the majority of women have children and are the breadwinners in their families. Even more surprising was that these women are managing their families with the support of their stay at home/ part time working husbands. …And here I thought I was an anomaly.

This program was developed to help companies develop, retain, and advance female talent and promote inclusive leadership. Like many women, my focus can be narrowed to the goals of my product and team rather than forming a broader vision to create impact across the company. And I found it interesting to consider my own career from the perspective of creating a personal vision and strategy.

We’ll see if my learnings make me a better product owner and leader, but the shared experiences, personal connection, candor and trust I experienced in this women-only program felt truly transformative.