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LI black women's group focuses on career goals

Are you living your life by default or by design?

That was a question posed by Marcia Beckford at a conference on career and wellness strategies sponsored by the Long Island chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women this weekend in East Garden City. Her point: Instead of just going along with an adverse situation, you need to set intentions for what you want in life, and make changes accordingly.

A financial services manager with the Prudential Insurance Co. in Howard Beach, she told the close to 40 women who braved the wind and rain Saturday of her major wake-up call 13 years ago. A department manager for a New York City hotel, putting in 15-hour days, holidays included, she said she spotted a homework assignment asking for her young daughter's happiest and saddest moments.

Beckford said she was "devastated" to read what her daughter wrote about how she cried as her mom left for work in the mornings. Beckford told those gathered for the event at Nassau Community College that that was a turning point and led her to move to a job that offered far more balance.

Nicole Turner, human resources director for MasterCard Worldwide in Purchase, told how important it is for her to stay true to herself. "If my mind and spirit isn't right, I will not be effective at work, at home, as a sister, as a friend."

A few years back, she moved from health care to the corporate world, which called for her to learn to play in "a different ballgame." She said she had to learn how to fit in with a new culture, and speak up when she needed to with senior leaders. She got help, she said, from friends, mentors and God.

On a nuts-and-bolts note, Barbara Whiting, a business development specialist, spoke of the support entrepreneurs can get from advisers at the U.S. Small Business Administration. She said her office is even getting calls from college students who are looking to start their own endeavors.

Laurie Harrigan, 36, who works in financial services, said the morning's pep talks motivated her to move forward with a wedding cake business she hopes to open as a side endeavor: "I'm inspired to work on the business plan that I've been putting off for three years."


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