On Thursday, September 19, 2019, Springboard conference attendees were invited to a panel discussion titled “Change the Course of Your Emerging Brand: The Female Leadership Perspective”. The panel, moderated by Sherri Fishman, President of Fishman PR, sought to explore the unique leadership and emotional intelligence skills inherent to female executives in the franchising world. The panelists included:

– Liberty Bernal, COO of Baby Boot Camp;

– Karissa Johnson, CEO of Moms on the Run;

– Jennifer Cutillo, Director of Operations at BeBalanced;

– Andrea Scott, CEO and co-founder of skoah; and
– Anna Phillips, CEO and founder of The Lash Lounge.


Each of these executives imparted their advice, wisdom, and anecdotes from their own experiences that contributed to their success in franchising. Key themes from the panel discussion included the importance of adaptability, especially as executive teams seek to add more women to their ranks, and the strategic ways in which women can use their emotional intelligence to connect with franchisees.

Cutillo and Bernal shared their perspectives on recent studies that show that female franchisee ownership is increasing at a steadier rate than that of male franchisee ownership; the panel discussed ways in which franchisors can appeal to this growing demographic. Both Johnson and Phillips emphasized how female leaders can use their emotive storytelling skills to connect to franchisees on a more personal, human level than their male counterparts. They encouraged attendees to capitalize on their personal stories in an emotionally engaging way, rather than downplay their experiences as women are so often advised.

The panelists responded to a wide range of questions, including the importance of mentorship, the ongoing struggle to promote women in male-dominated spaces, and calls for their advice for emerging female franchisors operating in women-centric or gender-neutral business models.