The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship golf tournament kicks off today at Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, but yesterday, the topic of women in business took center stage. The KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit, held Wednesday at Sahalee, was a daylong summit about how to boost women into corporate executive positions.

Olympic athletes, golfers, CEOs, company presidents, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke about leadership, work-life balance, and following dreams.

Rice kicked off the summit with a keynote followed by a fireside chat with NBC’s Michele Tafoya. She encouraged women to advance in their careers with confidence, especially if a mentor or sponsor comes alongside them.

“If somebody sees something in you, go ahead and see it in yourself,” Rice said. “Go ahead and have the confidence to take those positions.”


Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Photos by Scott Halleran / Getty Images.

Several panelists and speakers, including Rice, spoke about the pools of talent from which executives are drawn. The key to having women in leadership is to fill those pools with women capable of taking charge. Rice charged women to never be afraid to be the “first” at something.

“There would be no firsts if you had to see somebody in a leadership position,” said Rice.

Rice can back up that talk. She was the first black woman to be secretary of state, and she was the first woman to serve as a sitting president’s national security adviser.

“Don’t let anybody define your passion because of how you look,” Rice said. “Make sure you’re defining your own passion.”

Wednesday’s conference was the second annual. Attendees are mostly women sent by companies for a chance to network and build relationships.

“The main goal of the event is to move more women into the C suite,” said KPMG CEO and U.S. chair Lynne Doughtie, who was named to the Fortune magazine Most Powerful Women in Business list.

For KPMG, it’s a chance to elevate both women’s golf and women in business, Doughtie said. This year, the conference focuses on women along the tech-heavy West Coast. Last year’s summit and tournament was in New York.

The KPMG PGA Women’s Golf Championship will be in Sahalee through June 12. Tickets are still available.