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The Nistler College of Business and Public Administration hosted the 4th annual Be Bold UND Women in Leadership Summit on Thursday, April 11, 2024, at the UND Memorial Union small ballroom. Following the panel and luncheon, a fireside chat was held with Dean Henley and UND alumna Jill Sando, Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer for Apparel & Accessories and Home & Hardlines for Target.

In a world where we often measure success by external standards, it’s easy to lose sight of what truly matters. Sando reflected on some powerful quotes that have shaped her perspective on life, leadership, and happiness. She explored the importance of authenticity, gratitude, and embracing her true self.

Gratitude and Self-awareness

“I have so much gratitude for the experiences I have been given.” Sando shared how much she appreciated her journey, and how it started back at UND with her best friend and sorority sister. It is not always about the destination, but the lessons learned along the way. Reflecting on what you love and what truly makes you happy is a cornerstone of self-awareness. As leaders, it’s about being in tune with yourself and “filling up your cup” with things that bring you joy.

Authentic Leadership

“Who am I as a leader if I am not my authentic self?” Sando exclaimed that she views being authentic is a superpower and that it is okay to be different from other leaders. As leaders, leading from a place of authenticity is crucial because that is how true relationships are built. She shared how she has learned that being bold and true to herself has not only made her happier; but also, she has been an inspiration to others to do the same.

Optimism and Resilience 

“I want to be happy, I’m optimistic.” Optimism is a choice, and it is a powerful one. Life is filled with challenges, but Sando explained that it is how you respond to challenges that defines you as a leader. Embracing a positive mindset doesn’t mean you are ignoring the difficulties; rather, you face them with courage and resilience. As the saying goes, “the glass is half full, or half empty, but it’s always refillable.”

Leadership by Impact 

“Elevate and bring such good, positive energy.” She shared how leadership isn’t just about titles or positions; it’s about the impact we have on others and the energy we bring to every interaction. Whether it’s in your community or workplace, you can choose to be a leader who uplifts and inspires others.

Continuous Learning and Curiosity 

“Stay focused on learning and stay curious.” Sando explained how the journey of self-discovery and leadership is never-ending. Adopting a rookie mindset, always being open to learning and asking questions, keeps you humble and adaptable. It’s through challenges and learning experiences that you grow and evolve as individuals and leaders.

Sando reminded attendees of the importance of authenticity, gratitude, and optimism in both their personal and professional life. Embracing who you are, staying grateful for your experiences, and approaching life with a positive outlook can transform not only your life but the lives of those around you. Sando shared how continuing to be bold, authentic, and optimistic will help you navigate the ups and downs of life’s journey.

We extend our deepest gratitude to UND Alumna Mary Fischer, the Hultberg Endowment, and the Mellem Endowment for their generous support to make this event possible.