The L³ Alliance (Lifestyle, Legacy, and Leading by example) is the women’s group for the Wells International Foundation. As Founder & CEO, Dr. Monique Y. Wells believes it is important for high-achieving professional women to keep the idea of legacy “top of mind” and to observe how doing so influences their impact as leaders. She invites women leaders to reflect on this concept by contributing to the What Does Legacy Mean to You? article series.
Today, Vera Weill-Halle shares her views on legacy and leadership. Weill-Halle is a seasoned expert in strategy, fundraising, business development, and international development. She specializes in women’s empowerment and entrepreneurial development, environmental sustainability, and partnership with the private sector and international organizations.
L³ Alliance: What does the word “legacy” mean to you?
VW-H: We each have our own definition of the word “legacy.” The standard definition is bequeathing a gift or gifts of personal and/or financial value to those left behind after our passing. The gift/s can be intended solely for family members to benefit from.
I view legacy to be broader and want my actions and deeds to also benefit others and create a wider impact.
It is this deeper meaning of bequeathing that I wish to focus on. I want my legacy to be personal in nature but also wider in scope, influence, and impact. In short, I want also to be remembered for the contributions I made in my life and work that positively impacted on the lives of others.
L³ Alliance: How does this apply to you right now as a woman who is a leader in your field?
V W-H: Indeed, it applies very directly to my present mission in life. I have had over 30 years of director-level professional experience in international and business development, working with the United Nations’ system of organizations, as well as with the private sector in helping them create business opportunities with UN entities. Now, I have embarked on a new mission — with two other co-founders, I have established Brighter Ventures Inc., an organization dedicated to advancing women-led entrepreneurship.
Women comprise 50% of the global population, but according to Pitch.com, women receive less than 3% of financing for their business ventures and start-ups. I am committed to changing that scenario and helping women entrepreneurs further their access to coaching, networks, and finance — all of which are elements essential to women’s success in building their enterprises.
It is through my work in this area that I would like to leave my legacy, share my knowledge and work experiences, help other women achieve their goals, and advance the leadership role that women entrepreneurs can and should play in our global economy.
L³ Alliance: Do you believe there is a relationship between leadership and legacy?
V W-H: In my opinion, there is certainly a relationship between leadership and legacy.
A leader recognizes a problem exists and commits to addressing it.
I completed my TRIUM Executive MBA in 2009 and was shocked to learn that women face such significant obstacles in the entrepreneurial space. This motivated me and my two co-founders to embark on our journey and commit to building an organization that would help women overcome the obstacles they face as entrepreneurs.
Legacy provides a motivating framework and drives the individual leader to pursue a higher purpose in life by measuring her actions and ensuring that those actions bring about the greatest possible impact and benefit to our global society. This is what distinguishes leaders who are solely profit driven from those who are seeking to bring about sustainable economic growth coupled with human benefits.
I hope my contributions will bring about a sea of change, enabling women to have greater access to required resources such as coaching, networks, and finance. I want to create enabling environments and favorable policies that are supportive to women entrepreneurs so they will better succeed in their business ventures.
L³ Alliance: How can keeping legacy “top of mind” help you be a better leader?
V W-H: By focusing on legacy as their ultimate aim, aspiring leaders who seek to leave a long-lasting legacy will want to filter their life’s decisions and actions through that prism and continually keep in mind their selected life purpose and path. Having that barometer in place will make these women become better leaders because they will carefully consider and value their decisions.