Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Fall CWiB Conference

With the number of women at the GSB at an all time high of 35%, it is not surprising that the Chicago Women in Business (CWiB) student group was able to put on a successful Annual Fall Conference on October 25, 2007 at Chicago’s Intercontinental Hotel.

As a first year student the prospect of figuring our which career path you want to take is daunting. Just when you feel as though you are settling into life in a new city with new friends and figuring out what it’s like to be a student again, you are quickly reminded that you have a future career to think about. We looked to Dr. Seuss to shed some very valuable insight:

You have brains in your head
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose

As such, we decided to make this year’s theme for the conference - “Forging and Managing Your Career Path.” The CWIB Annual Fall Conference provides a safe environment for our women students to ask many corporate women candid questions about their experiences.

The Conference was well attended by over 175 members and 100 sponsors representing 26 firms across various industries.

We kicked off the event with two panel discussions – Managing and Navigating Your Career Path and Off the Beaten Path. The first panel is pretty self explanatory. We brought in many successful women across a broad range of industries to give their advice on how they had “figured it out.” The second panel was geared towards those interested in pursuing a non-traditional career path such as entrepreneurship, non-profit and corporate social responsibility. Panelists included:

Toby Alfred – Customer Acquisition Leader, Progressive
Katie Cusack – Director, Credit Suisse
Teri Hill – Senior Executive, Organization Strategy Practice, Accenture
Spring Hollis – Director, Deutsche Bank
Kristen Rossi – Executive Director, Investment Banking, Morgan Stanley
Julie Coffman – Partner, North American Recruiting, Bain & Company
Patrice P. DeCorrevont – Managing Director, J.P. Morgan Securities Inc.
Marissa Haas – Senior Product Manager, Marketing, Abbott Pain Care
Anne Hamilton –Vice President, Lehman Brothers
Ingrid Tierens – Managing Director, Equity Strategies, Goldman Sachs
Susan Alnaqib – Co-President, Chicago Community Ventures
Margaret Annett – Assistant Treasurer, The Art Institute of Chicago
Chandra Greer – Founder, Greer
Maria Kim – The Cara Program

Following the panel discussions, we opened the floor up to a networking event where students were given the opportunity to float across the room and speak to representatives from all 26 firms. With over 100 corporate representatives present at the networking portion, students were given an amazing opportunity to ask candid questions about specific industries, jobs and firms.

The Conference closed with a formal sit down dinner in the Grand Ballroom where we graced with the presence of a truly inspirational female leader, Shellye Archambeau, CEO of MetricStream, who was the keynote speaker for the evening. The theme to Shellye’s speech was naturally about career planning. According to Shellye, a plan, much like a map, will help you navigate the potholed and congested road. It will also help you get back on track when you get lost. Funnily enough, Shellye had a plan to be CEO of a company at the age of 14! She is a true testament to the whole idea of having a plan. Her belief in having a plan is best encapsulated by the following story she shared. When Shellye was in college, she needed a winter coat (an expensive purchase for a student living on a budget). Knowing that a coat is meant to last approximately 5 years, Shellye took her plan into account. Shellye had a plan to be pregnant in 5 years. She took this into account when making her decision to buy a winter coat and opted for the one that she could wear while pregnant over the trendiest coat at the time. Although she was kindly reminded by her roommate that she didn’t have a boyfriend at the time, Shellye was indeed pregnant five years later and had a coat that she could wear.

Year after year, we hear great feedback about how valuable the opportunity to spend quality time with firm representatives is to students. CWiB is one of the largest student groups at the GSB. Our mission is to aid our members in developing professional and personal skills and building relationships with corporate recruiters, faculty, alumni, and other female students. With over 200 members, the group hosts career development, community service, and social events. The women of CWiB are pleased to speak with prospective and admitted students and always welcome new members!

Want to discuss this topic some more? Head on over to the Chicago GSB Discussion Forums