Propelling women forward in their career journey

Viasat employees find a lot to like in the company’s first Women’s Leadership Program

Viasat hosted its first Women’s Leadership Program last fall, and the response from its participants was overwhelmingly positive. In April, the company will launch the second offering of the program, with plans to continue it into the future.

“We will keep offering it as long as we need it and it’s having a positive impact to the business and for the participants,” said lead program manager Jaclyn Konoske. “I was thrilled by the response to the first offering. Many of the participants shared examples of the positive impact it had on their growth and development as a female leader at Viasat. That says we’re on the right track, and we’re helping our employees.”

The nine-week program is currently held online, with the potential for in-person in the future. It brings together 40 women from various campuses and business segments. Participants are considered a mix of high-performing and high-potential talent, and are typically technical or people leaders within the company.

Both times the program has been offered, more than 130 women have applied to take it.

Konoske is Viasat’s manager of talent development, and she helped vet various female leadership programs to find the one best suited to Viasat. It ultimately chose to collaborate with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and its Anderson Executive Education. That program draws from the knowledge of UCLA faculty to help develop the next generation of global female business leaders.

Viasat’s Women’s Leadership Program helps women develop a mindset that promotes innovation and enhanced decision making, increase executive presence, and broaden their network of influence.

Those are skills Konoske hopes will propel Viasat’s women further in their career journey.

“We noticed a lot of women were not moving beyond the individual contributor and mid-level management range,” Konoske said. “We want to give them the education and tools necessary for their growth and development to elevate and move them closer to achieving their career aspirations. We hope it promotes a more diverse and inclusive leadership team, but our primary goal is to develop our female employees to reach their highest potential.”

Here’s what some of these Viasat employees had to say:

Mallory Howard | Carlsbad, CA

  • What was your biggest takeaway from the program?

My biggest takeaway was that I have a network of women at Viasat, a support system, that I can and should tap in to for guidance, mentorship, and camaraderie. The feelings that come with being a woman in a male-dominated industry can sometimes feel isolating, but this program reminded me that I’m not alone.

  • Why would you recommend this program?

No matter where you are in your leadership journey, you are bound to come away with new tools to grow your career. The team from UCLA put together a solid program that doesn’t just touch on leadership, but also teaches critical aspects of business.

  • What’s one piece of advice you’d give future participants?

Clear your calendar and show up ready to participate. You get out what you put in.

Jennifer Kirst | Denver

  • What was your biggest takeaway from the program?

Connections! Connecting with other Viasat women leaders who value themselves and their talents was so important to me. The connections were what made the experiences in the program so valuable. Having the visibility to other areas of the business and working through real-life projects, challenges and issues was so much fun. We each provided ideas and asked questions of each other. I felt so supported!

  • Why would you recommend this program?

I’ve met women that I can lean on who will support me, challenge me and help me grow. The women I met in the program are smart, strong and offered solid advice. The program will challenge your thinking and push your limits of possibilities. It will give you practical tools to advance your talents as a women and leader at Viasat.
Also, the professors and speakers at UCLA are topnotch, experienced professionals and leaders. They provide solid advice and keep the program so engaging for all. The course has opened my eyes to even more possibilities with women in leadership. I will forever be looking behind me to pull other women up and looking in front of me to see how other women lead successfully.

  • What’s one piece of advice you’d give future participants?

Dive in, lean in … do it all! Really pour yourself into the program and get to know the professors, the topics, and other women leaders. Participation and being open and vulnerable is key to getting the most out of this program. It will re-energize you!

Leen Schafer | Carlsbad, CA

  • What was your biggest takeaway from the program?

For me it was the realization that we have so many rising and impressive female leaders in this company. It was inspiring to be around other women who have a passion for leadership and executing it with grace. I found it very enriching to establish camraderie with my fellow female leaders.

  • Why would you recommend this program?

Over the years, I have observed the challenges of being a woman in male-dominated sciences and industries. This course left me empowered with data and research that validated some of those challenges I have observed, as well as ways to mitigate them. As a result, I feel more prepared and confident to lead at Viasat.

  • What’s one piece of advice you’d give future participants?

For the future participants, go into this course with an open mind, and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. You will find that you are not alone, and that there are many around you who want you to succeed.

Laura Wilke | Carlsbad, CA

  • What was your biggest takeaway from the program?

During the program, you interact with a group of amazing women throughout the company who work in different business areas and domains. This is a great opportunity to learn from these women who are working on different problems. The program has expanded each of our networks throughout Viasat.

  • Why would you recommend this program?

Each lecture had excellent nuggets of information to carry on into every day. For example, creating an elevator pitch to clearly articulate your brand and your role within the organization. Another one I am actively working on is improving my communication skills by story banking — gathering a set of stories that I can pull from while communicating with individuals and/or groups.
An exercise I enjoyed, was evaluating your current network within and outside of Viasat to understand how your network can lift you up and assist you in your career development.

  • What’s one piece of advice you’d give future participants?

Make a point of meeting everyone in the class, and participate in the group discussions to get the most out of the class.

Jane Reuter was a Colorado journalist for 20 years before transitioning to Viasat as a corporate communications writer. A mother of one, she lives in Golden, CO and is an outdoor enthusiast.