Events Features

Shaping the Next Generation of Future Leaders – A Panel Discussion

San Francisco, California – On Thursday June 9, 2016, the Armenian International Women’s Association San Francisco Affiliate (AIWA-SF) hosted a lively panel event entitled “Shaping the Next Generation of Future Leaders” at PicsArt headquarters in downtown San Francisco. The panel was the second in a series of panel discussions that AIWA-SF has planned across an array of industries and topics.  The captivating panel discussion focused on the roles of leadership, technology, business, and community engagement in our modern society.

The distinguished panel, moderated by Nina Achadjian, Founder of Hive and Principal at Cota Capital, included the following six panelists: Argam Derhartunian, VP Product at PicsArt, Dan Marshall, SVP Worldwide Sales at Elemental Technologies, Alex Saghatelian, Senior Director Pricing & Product Cisco Systems, Dr. Francois Antounian, MD at Kaiser Permanente Health Care, Orthopedic Surgeon, Rick Moradian, President and CEO at DTC Logistics – Wine Shipping, Karén Gyulbudaghyan, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Yahoo.


The inspirational and thought provoking discussion on the challenges and opportunities women face offered plenty of sincere candor as  genuine, diverse, and passionate perspectives were shared.

In her welcoming remarks, AIWA-SF President, Christine Soussa, noted, “The series of panel discussions are dedicated to creating a space for dynamic discussion and networking. It was significant to have a ‘flip the script’ set up with an all male panel, moderated by a female. Changing the conversation in this way allowed for candid discussion on topics that are typically difficult to discuss. It was quite moving.”  It was great to have some attendees who were in town from Armenia for the Armenian IT Forum at Synopsys in Mountain View the next day.  It was powerful to receive real-time feedback from guests from Armenia who had not considered the reality of some of the gender challenges prior to attending the discussion.

Moderator Nina Achadjian remarked, “The recent AIWA panel discussion was unlike any other; it fostered a powerful and honest conversation about many of the challenges women face in the workforce. It was incredibly insightful to hear the perspectives of men from a variety of industries.” The panelists answered questions around many topics including, pay-gaps, reporting to / managing / hiring and raising females and their insights around research on personality characteristics. Given the discussion focus, the panel answered some prepared questions, leaving a majority of the time for questions and answers.

Dr. Ani Tajirian, AIWA-SF board member and attendee shares, “I found fascinating the different approach men and women take in asking for a raise.  Argam Derhartunian, PicsArt, discussed how his employees ask him for raises during their annual reviews.  Men it turns out ask boldly “I worked hard on this project can I have a raise?” whereas women, if they do end up asking, come with a packet of information of comparable positions/salaries and having deliberated as to why they qualify.  I learned that income disparity among men and women broadens as women consistently do not ask for bonuses/raises out of embarrassment or fear of being declined.”

Panelists and attendees offered great positive feedback we are excited to continue hosting events in the Bay Area. Sophia Moradian, Vice President of AIWA-SF, commented, “The full house and energy in the room reflected the lively and engaging conversation led by our moderator and esteemed panelists. I’m looking forward to the next series of AIWA-SF events and to hearing feedback from both new and existing members.”


A special thank you to PicsArt for opening their doors to us, moderator Nina Achadjian, and all of our amazing panelists! An additional thank you to La Méditerranée and Rick Moradian for providing the delicious food and wine, and Hearts of Armenia! All donations collected over the course of the evening support AIWA-SF’s initiatives and make events like this possible.


To learn more about AIWA, please visit  To get involved with the AIWA SF affiliate, please visit or send an email to


1 comment on “Shaping the Next Generation of Future Leaders – A Panel Discussion

  1. Pingback: A Fateful Evening with AIWASF – AIWA San Francisco

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