I am happy to be part of a great company initiative: the creation of an employee group focused on giving the women of Konica Minolta ongoing inspiration and support to help them achieve their goals. The group, Step Forward, will be a platform to encourage women to pursue their ambitions and change conversations in the workplace.
I am so proud of the strong women in my own life: My grandmother, who owned a newsstand at the Wichita, Kansas, Union railroad station; and my mother, who started her career after raising a family and who worked closely with the CEO. I look back at their professional paths as I look forward to my daughter’s path. When Katy graduates college, she will have earned three degrees and studied in four countries. Her career is in front of her. My family is a perfect example of the increasing opportunities that women, through the generations, have been given.
The advancements we have made as a society and as a company are inspiring. Here at Konica Minolta, we are passionate about identifying, nurturing and rewarding the best and the brightest. Our year-old Business Innovation Center is led by Ekta Sahasi, an entrepreneurial veteran of start-ups and Fortune 500 companies throughout Silicon Valley. She is responsible for fundamental business and cultural transformation, incubating new products and solutions and investing in new ventures and technologies. Roopa Parekh is the company’s first female Market Vice President, in charge of our Direct Sales channel in New England. Roopa began her career at Konica Minolta a decade ago as a sales manager, taking on greater responsibility and challenges with dedication, talent and motivation. Holly DeSantis was recently promoted to Senior Vice President of Financial Planning, Analysis and Reporting, a role in which she will oversee and manage the company’s entire financial planning process. Holly has spent almost two decades in roles of ever-increasing responsibility through the finance and accounting side of the business.
Kay Du Fernandez is Step Forward’s executive sponsor. As Vice President of Strategic Business Development, she is another senior leader in a position to positively affect our company, especially with the creation of this important employee organization.
These four are representative of our commitment to bringing more women into management. Over the past 5 years, we have increased the total number of women in professional roles by 42 percent, including an increase of 21 percent of women in leadership roles. We expect to have more announcements in the future.
Our development of internal talent is a reflection of our alignment with the diverse populations of our nation and the industries we serve. The creation of Step Forward is the first of many conversations we will have around the future of our most important resource: our people.