How is the program structured?

Each Ellevate Squad meets for 12 meetings (30 minutes each week), always on the same day and at the same time. All Squad members will connect for the meeting virtually via Zoom, a video conferencing tool. If you're placed in a Local Squad, you're welcome to hold meetings in-person, but it's not required to do so.

The Squad Curriculum is structured around four types of meetings:

The Kick-Off (Week 1): All members introduce themselves to the group, including their Top 2 goals for the program. Each Squad will also come together to select Hot Topics for the program.

Read next: The Kickoff Meeting Prep Guide

Hot Topics (Week 2 + Free space in program schedule): Each Squad will select 1-2 weeks for a group discussion on shared professional interests and/or challenges. From Personal Branding 101 to Honing your Mentorship Skills, we've curated several recommendations along with Ellevate resources to drive the discussion. Have an idea for a new Hot Topic? Send your suggestion to squads@ellevatenetwork.com.

Read next: Preparing for your Hot Topic

Hot Seats (Weeks 3 - 11): Each member of the Squad has at least 1 call fully dedicated to discussing her career goals. The Hot Seats are an opportunity for each member to provide advice and to share ideas for achieving career success.

Read next: Preparing for your Hot Seat

Retrospective (Week 12): The last week of the program is an opportunity to reflect on what you have learned. Each member comes to the call outlining their next steps for working towards their goals. After the conclusion of the formal program, Squads can choose to continue to meet for catch-up chats; we encourage Squads to continue meeting either once a month or once a quarter.

Read next: Preparing for your Retrospective

The program schedule for your Squad is available on the Ellevate website at https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/squads. If you ever have questions about the program schedule, or would like to suggest updates, you can send a message to your Squad Mod directly from your Squads Dashboard.

Did you know...? Squads are created with nine women, but it's common for a couple of members to bow out of the program due to schedule changes. Often, Squads end up being around five to seven women, which is the perfect size for easy conversation. Your Squad Mod is responsible for communicating any group changes and for finalizing the curriculum.

The Mandatory Kick-Off


This kick off call is mandatory for all Squad members; on this first call, you’ll get introductions out of the way so you don’t have to waste time on future calls.

Each Squad member should come with their Squad Goals Worksheet, ready to introduce themselves, to share some highlights from their self-reflection, and to tell the Squad what they want to get out of the program. (Download the worksheet here: Setting Your Goals)

Kick Off Meeting Agenda

  1. Welcome from the Squad Mod

  2. Introductions - each member should take 2-3 minutes to share:

    1. What do you do?

    2. Highlights you’re comfortable sharing from the Goals Worksheet

    3. What do you want to get out of the program?

  3. Together, review the Squads Code of Conduct.

    1. Respectful, safe, confidential space that maintains Ellevate’s Values.

    2. All members are expected to attend calls; you should miss no more than 2.

  4. What to expect next:

    1. Any members who don’t follow up in 24 hours can be removed by the Squad Mod

    2. The Squad Mod will make final selections for Hot Topics and add them to the curriculum, in place of any Hot Seats for removed members.

    3. Same time and place next week for the first Hot Topic!

Read Next: Setting Your Goals
Read Next: Preparing for Your (Mandatory) Kick Off

FAQ: What if someone doesn’t show up to the Kick Off?

After the Mandatory Kick-Off, you’ll have a good sense of how many women are engaged with your Squad. The Squad Mod will then finalize your curriculum by replacing the Hot Seats of any missing members with Hot Topics.


Hot Topics


During Week 2 and then later during breaks from Hot Seats, Squads discuss common professional pain points and questions. To prepare for these discussions, Squad members listen to a mini podcast and come ready to discuss their point of view on the subject.

Hot Topic Meeting Agenda

  1. Review the Hot Topic Resource - did everyone check it out it in advance?

  2. Work through the Hot Topic Discussion Questions

    1. Do you agree or disagree with the suggestions in the resource?

    2. Has anyone in the Squad struggled with this?

    3. Has anyone in the Squad succeeded with this?

  3. Confirm next week’s meeting agenda - same time, same place.

Read Next: Picking Your Hot Topics (Prep Guide)


Hot Seats


Each Squad member gets one week in the Hot Seat, where the whole call is focused on her goals and challenges. This ensures that meetings aren’t all small talk and that each member gets an opportunity for dedicated feedback. In fact, members have told us they learn more from other Hot Seats than from their own!

Remember: the goal of the Hot Seat is for each member of the Squad to get the best advice on her specific situation. Your Squad is a confidential, safe space - share openly, and respond with empathy. We’re all in this together.

Before the Call 

  1. At least one day before the call, the member in the Hot Seat shouldshare the situations and questions from her Hot Seat Worksheet.

Hot Seat Meeting Agenda 

  1. Review what the Hot Seater shared with the group. She can read through and share a situation (or two) from her Hot Seat Prep Worksheet.

  2. Discuss as a group.

    1. Members should ask clarifying questions

    2. Members should share how they’ve tackled a similar challenges

      1. Note how the Hot Seater’s conditions might be different, based on her situation; other members can suggest how to replicate their experiences within the Hot Seater’s context.

    3. Members can share external resources they’ve used - websites, books, experts, etc.

  3. If possible, the Hot Seater could set and commit to specific, measurable steps to take by the end of the Squads program.

  4. Confirm next week’s meeting agenda - same time, same place.

Read Next: Hot Seat (Prep Guide)

FAQ: What if someone can’t make it the week of their Hot Seat?


The Squad Retrospective


On the final call of the program, each Squad member reports back in on their progress and what’s next in their career. Together, the Squad can decide if they want to continue meeting as a support or accountability group; many Squads choose to continue meeting at the same time monthly or quarterly, and many decide just to keep in touch via Conversations.

Retrospective Meeting Agenda

  1. Hot Seat & Goal Recap - each member should share:

    1. What was her goal for the program?

    2. What has happened since her Hot Seat?

    3. What’s her plan for the coming months?

  2. Decide on the future of the Squad - will you continue meeting, and how frequently?

Read Next: Preparing for Your Retrospective


Sample Curriculums


Innovator Squad with (all) Nine Members

  1. Mandatory Kick-Off

  2. Hot Topic: Building Your Personal Board of Directors

  3. Hot Seat: Tracy Chou

  4. Hot Seat: Emily Weiss

  5. Hot Seat: Lauren Duca

  6. Hot Seat: Beyonce Knowles

  7. Hot Seat: Ashley Ford

  8. Hot Seat: Priscilla Chan

  9. Hot Seat: Debbie Sterling

  10. Hot Seat: Venus Williams

  11. Hot Seat: Katerina Schneider

  12. Retrospective

Executive Squad with Seven Members

  1. Mandatory Kick-Off

  2. Hot Topic: Increasing Diversity at Your Company

  3. Hot Seat: Reshma Suajani

  4. Hot Seat: Sallie Krawcheck

  5. Hot Topic: Joining a Corporate Board

  6. Hot Seat: Mary Barra

  7. Hot Seat: Anne Wojcicki

  8. Hot Seat: Ruth Bader Ginsberg

  9. Hot Topic: Navigating Career Transitions

  10. Hot Seat: Meg Whitman

  11. Hot Seat: Arianna Huffington

  12. Retrospective

Achiever Squad with Five Members

  1. Mandatory Kick-Off

  2. Hot Topic: Defining Your Personal Brand

  3. Hot Seat: Seema Bansal

  4. Hot Topic: Building Strategic Partnerships

  5. Hot Topic: Managing Up and Down

  6. Hot Seat: Kelly Peeler

  7. Hot Topic: Building Your Personal Board of Directors

  8. Hot Seat: Amandala Stenberg

  9. Hot Topic: Navigating Career Changes

  10. Hot Seat: Cristina Jimenez

  11. Hot Seat: Michelle Meyer

  12. Retrospective

Read Next: Picking Your Hot Topics (Prep Guide)