The CWIB Events Guide

CWIB Leadership manages a lot of their time and effort putting together several events for members throughout the year, but what’s the difference between them all? We want to make sure you all know what events we offer and why you should attend as many as possible to get the most out of this organization! Hopefully this guide to all-things CWIB events helps clarify any discrepancies you may have and encourages you to come out to the exciting events we have planned!

Monthly Meetings

Monthly meetings are probably the most well-known events we have to offer. The first Wednesday of every month, we meet for about an hour to socialize with members, inform members of upcoming events, hear from inspiring speakers, sell merchandise, and answer any questions or concerns members may have. Sometimes we even provide free food! Monthly meetings are a great way to get acclimated with all that is happening during the particular month and make sure you mark your calendars so that you know when everything is going on! Most monthly meetings begin with business-related ice-breakers or trivia questions that allow you to work with fellow members and get to know each other. Each meeting will normally have a theme to follow along with all the information that is provided. For the 2019-2020 academic year, we will focus monthly meetings on our pillar, “Empower.” We highly encourage members to attend every monthly meeting, as they only occur once a month, and really help keep you up to date so you don’t miss any important information! We’ll see you at our first monthly meeting of the semester on October 2nd in NCB 260 at 7:00 pm!

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A room full of members attending a Monthly Meeting!

Socials

Socials are organized by our Chief Operating Officer, VP of Operations, and Events Committee. They are casual get-togethers that allow members to have fun and interact outside of professional events. For example, last year we went to Sinkland Farms for our pumpkin patch social, held a Halloween themed game night, and a Galentine’s Day movie night. These are great ways to spend time with friends and meet new people in a laid-back setting! Some socials will occur on campus, while other times we are out in the Blacksburg community. The Events Committee determines when to hold socials, based on when other events are taking place; however, they aim for an equal number of socials to happen in the spring and fall semesters. You will hear about the time and dates for socials through attending monthly meetings and reading our weekly newsletter.

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CWIB members having fun at our Halloween-themed game night!

Coffee Chats

Coffee chats allow members to speak with professionals in the workplace in a relaxed atmosphere. Normally, we invite one individual to sit down with us and chat about her personal experiences throughout college, such as how she came to hold the position she does, what she studied as an undergrad, and any advice she has for us moving forward in our career search. These personal situations alleviate any nerves of talking to professionals in a more structured setting by allowing members to ask questions and get to know the individual. We encourage you to take advantage of coffee chats as these are opportunities where successful women have the time to sit and speak with us and answer any of our questions! We have had businesswomen from Cvent and Deloitte, as well as professors from international universities sit and chat with us. I find coffee chats very genuine and leave them feeling motivated and inspired.; these experiences have opened my eyes to career possibilities I hadn’t even thought of pursuing.

Workshops

CWIB is fortunate to collaborate with our sponsors each year by running workshops dedicated to career advancement. At these workshops, we cover skills such as resume building, diversity and inclusion, and negotiation, to name a few. Learning these skills from business professionals is a privilege that gives us a hands-on opportunity to the insight on real workplace practices. Our sponsors dedicate time out of their busy schedules to work with us, so it is important we take advantage of these resources we are provided! We hope you didn’t miss out on our first workshops of the semester where Protiviti hosted a resume building and Business Horizons prep, and The Select Group helped us work on making a great first impression! Don’t worry if you weren’t able to make it; we have plenty of workshops planned that will help you strengthen your professional skills.

Power Panel 

Power Panel is our biggest event of the year which takes place in the spring semester. We invite business professionals to sit on a panel and answer pressing questions related to a particular theme. For example, last year we were honored to have three influential business women talk to us about their experiences finding courage in the workplace. Frances Reimers, Tricia Harper, and Allison Sitch graciously spoke about the companies they work for, difficulties they faced as professional women, and gave advice for us starting out in our careers. Prior to the panel, a private networking session for CWIB members only was held where we were able to introduce ourselves to the panelists and get to know each other. Power Panel has always been a success, so make sure you don’t miss this event in the spring! Be on the lookout to see who our guests will be this year…

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Tricia Harper, Allison Sitch, and Frances Reimers (middle left to right) with CWIB leadership!

Treks 

Treks are a fantastic opportunity to gain real-world experience. Our Chief Development Officer and VP of Treks plan around 2-3 treks a semester where a group of CWIB members get to attend events hosted by different business in order to see what their culture is like, what a typical day on the job consists of, and network with professionals. New York City, Nashville, Atlanta, Raleigh, and Washington, D.C. are a few places we have either been or are planning to visit! Not only do you receive an impressive professional experience, you are able to grow closer to other CWIB members and sight-see in a major city! Now I know you all can’t wait to sign up for the first trek, so let me explain the application process. Every CWIB member who wants to attend a trek must apply. Questions range from how many previous CWIB events have you attended, to, what qualities do you believe make a good leader? These questions are designed to gauge your commitment as a CWIB member, as well as get a feel for the types of responses you would give to business professionals if asked. Treks do cost money; however, with all that is included, the prices are extremely reasonable! Be sure to pay attention for more information on upcoming treks, and if you have any more questions about them, reach out to some of the women who have attended previous ones! We are so excited to hear about how our first trek went when those who will be attending the NYC Women in Business trip this September 12th-13th return to Blacksburg!

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Want more insight on treks? Check out our Chronicles articles to get a sense of what members got out of going on treks!

I hope something about each of these events caught your eye and that you’re ready to get involved with CWIB! I’m so proud of all the hard work put forth in making these events so successful, so be sure to attend as many as you can! We can’t wait to see you all soon!

By: Emma Harwood

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Helpful Business Resources

With a world as complex as ours, it is often hard to stay up to date on current events. During the summer, this may be even more difficult as we are not in class constantly hearing about business trends or corporate news. Technology, stock market fluctuations, growing innovative mindsets, demands of consumers, and many more individual factors make the business world especially difficult to stay up to date with. As women beginning our journeys into the corporate world, it is important that we remain knowledgeable about what is happening within it. That knowledge should include both large events as well as daily happenings, ranging from current events, to informing ourselves of the newest entrepreneurial tactics, business insights, and career advice. Our world is changing rapidly, but we can do our part to change it for the better. If we remain knowledgeable, we can make a difference as women in the business world.

No matter the platform(s) you choose to use as your resources, select one that empowers you with rich information and helps you grow as a businesswoman. You can look into social media pages, websites, podcasts, journals, printed options, and much more. Do your own research of the platforms and news sources you prefer and feel comfortable using weekly, and even daily. Many websites even allow you to modify and personalize what information you wish to see. According to our CWIB members, podcasts are a favorite when it comes to recent business news and operations. Below are suggestions of helpful business resources that many of our members use to help you get started!

Podcasts: 

So Money: This podcast is hosted by financial specialist Farnoosh Torabi. It aims to inform listeners of strategies involving money, developed by top business professionals. They share financial philosophies, wins, failures, and habits to provide insight into what listeners should or should not do involving their finances. You can even ask Torabi financial questions you may have!

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Business Daily: Staying up to date with international business is very important, as markets around the world are interdependent. This podcast is a perfect source of information regarding international business! It consists of weekly reviews of business news from around the world. This can be beneficial for our members who study abroad or are interested in working in another country at some point in their professional careers.

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Skimm’d from the Couch: On this podcast, co-founders and co-CEOs, Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, share their journey of how they started their company from a couch. They have influential female leaders and businesswomen as guests on the podcast as well. They discuss careers, failure, and what the road to success is truly like. It is a raw environment that shares the truth of the business world!

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The $100 MBA Show: Hosted by Omar Zenhom, this podcast shares actual business lessons from real entrepreneurs. Zenhom reaches out to top experts to serve as guest teachers on the show. This podcast delivers solid business advice, in an attempt to provide applicable, actionable information for all listeners.

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RISE: New York Times Best-Selling Author, Rachel Hollis, hosts this tactical business podcast. She holds bold conversations with business powerhouses as well as leaders in personal development. She hopes to provide listeners with valuable information that they can apply to their own real-life situations. This podcast is a great source of empowerment for anyone listening!

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How I Built This: One of the most popular podcasters, Guy Raz, speaks about some of the world’s best-known companies. He talks about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, and the movements they formed. You can hear all about the extensive journeys of these companies and individuals involved.

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Newsletter: 

Morning Brew: This newsletter sends out a daily briefing to its targeted audience, millennials. Specifically, it is designed for young business professionals. The newsletter consists of a stock market recap, a few short briefings of the most important daily business news, and a small lifestyle section. Students enrolled in Foundations of Business at Virginia Tech were even required to subscribe to this newsletter!

Morning Brew

Magazine: 

Bloomberg Businessweek: This is an American magazine that is published weekly. It provides information about recent events in the business world. That information includes insights and interpretations of the people, companies, events, and trends that are involved in how and why the corporate world operates the way it does.

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Newspaper: 

The Wall Street Journal: As a business-focused newspaper, The Wall Street Journal provides international daily news involving the business world. It is published six days a week by Dow Jones & Company, which is also a major stock market index. All students taking Introduction to Finance even have to subscribe to this newspaper, which can be accessed online or in print.

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Book:

How Women Rise: Leadership expert Sally Helgesen and leadership coach Marshall Goldsmith co-authored this book, hoping to motivate their readers. Helgesen and Goldsmith reveal the most common habits that hold women back from getting a raise, promotion, or job. Specifically, women face different obstacles while striving for success in the workplace. This is both an inspirational and helpful read!

How women rise

No matter the resource(s) you choose to use, CWIB hopes that you use these suggestions to help further your own knowledge of today’s business world and its operations. By preparing yourself for all that the business world entails, you have a step up in your professional career. We cannot wait to see all that you do in the future!

By: Allison Wood

Following Up with Recruiters

Networking is an important aspect of the job search process and can be a great way to get to know recruiters in a more relaxed setting. Often times, recruiters will give you their contact information for after the event. Following up after an event may be unfamiliar but it is an avenue to foster a relationship with recruiters you meet, ultimately creating a great resource as you navigate through the job search process and transition into the corporate scene. These guidelines for following up will help you gain a solid foundation for contacting recruiters after networking.

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1. Try to follow up within a few days after the event. It will be easier for your recruiter to remember you and your conversation if you follow up sooner rather than later.

2. Include the event name, time, and place you met. For example, “Hi ____, it was nice meeting you at Hokies On Wall Street on Friday.” This will help jog the recruiters’ memories and confirm that you were paying diligent attention to all aspects of the conversation during your time networking.

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3. Incorporate a memorable aspect of your conversation from the event in your message. Recruiters often meet and interview many students during recruiting season. Adding a memorable topic will ensure that the recruiter will remember you. For example, “I enjoyed speaking with you about marketing and aspects of building your own brand.” This will also help elicit further conversations on the job responsibilities you are most interested in pursuing.

4. Ask for advice. At the recent Hokies On Wall Street, an employee from Resy said, “Email people you networked with and ask for advice. It’s a great way to continue your conversation and learn from them.”

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5. Thank the recruiter. As recruiters are very busy, it’s important to express appreciation for speaking with you. This common courtesy will never go unnoticed and is crucial for maintaining your positive reputation in every professional interaction.

6. Connect on LinkedIn, which will make it easy to stay connected with your recruiter. When you send a request on LinkedIn, make sure to send a message with it so they know who you are. This can also open doors to connections with other business professionals. You never know who knows who, so expanding your network is always an asset in obtaining your dream job. There are many ways through which to follow up with a recruiter besides LinkedIn, such as Email or even a thank you card to a recruiter if he or she has gone out of his or her way to connect you with helpful resources.

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7. Suggest meeting again. If you’re interested in continuing your conversations, suggest meeting for coffee, which is a good option to get to know each other in a more casual and personal setting.

8. Always proofread every message you send a recruiter. It’s always a good idea to have a peer look over your message before sending to make sure there are no errors. Little mistakes like punctuation or grammar errors reflect a lack in attention to detail and convey a sloppy work attitude. No recruiter wants to have this impression of you.

envelopeFollowing up after networking can show recruiters that you are dedicated, interested, and engaged, whether that be in them personally or the company they work for. While it can feel intimidating to reach out to a recruiter or if you fear that you are coming across annoying or pushy, do not let these thoughts stop you from pursuing an opportunity. Employees love to talk about the great companies they work for, so more often than not they will be more than happy to share more knowledge with you! If you follow these guidelines for contacting recruiters, you will be better able to stay connected with and build your professional relationships.

By: Abby Perkins

CWIB Spotlight: Ashton Hughes

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Member: Ashton Hughes
Year: Junior
Major: Finance, Concentration of Certified Financial Planning
Fun Fact: Ashton’s favorite CWIB memory was going on the New York trek! She had a great time touring companies like Google and hearing from passionate women, and spending the weekend with other CWIB girls made the trip one to remember!

Ashton Hughes has been a member of Collegiate Women in Business (CWIB) since September of 2016! She joined CWIB as a freshman because she had an older friend who went to Virginia Tech at the time who told her about it. Ashton decided to join the organization because she felt inspired by the CWIB founders and their professionalism. She has not left since. In the three years that she has been involved, Ashton has grown as a professional woman in business, and she now wants to apply her lessons to empower, prepare, and connect other CWIB women!

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Besides from being a CWIB leader, Ashton is also a Hokie Ambassador! Photo credit: Ashton Hughes

In her career, Ashton aims to be a financial planner for individuals, families, and small businesses. Her personal goal is to continuously help guide others through every financial milestone in their life. On her journey to achieve her career goals, she was able to obtain an internship with Canal Capital Management, an independent financial planning and investment firm, this summer! Ashton credits CWIB with teaching her the skills that are necessary to go after the career you desire and empowering her to self-advocate and gain opportunities.

As Ashton prepares to enter her senior year, she wants to help empower younger members in ways CWIB has helped and empowered her. “CWIB has been an integral part of my career journey,” Ashton said. “CWIB taught me how to make my first resume, the do’s and don’ts of interviewing, and how to build my personal brand. This organization has given me alumni mentors and a network that has been so generous to me. Most importantly, CWIB has empowered me to feel confident in the professional world.”

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Photo credit: Ashton Hughes

Ashton’s biggest motto in life is “I am my best advocate.” She found this motto when she realized that filling out an application with a resume and a transcript was not going to get her the best opportunities. She has learned about her strengths and her passions and now wants to teach others that succeeding professionally involves recognizing your weaknesses and capitalizing on your strengths. “School hasn’t always been a walk in the park for me,” Ashton said. “But I am intensely passionate about helping others succeed, and my strengths lie in communication. I learned that I had to make the extra effort to meet in-person with people, and have a genuine conversation.” Advocating for your strengths and knowing your weaknesses gives you the ability to present yourself in the best manner and succeed!

One piece of advice that Ashton would give to other CWIB members is to not wait around for opportunities but to instead go out and seize them yourself with confidence. She believes that if you want something to happen in your life, it is your place to make it happen. “If you see an internship or job with qualifications and you don’t meet every single one, apply anyway. Reach out to professionals for lunches, coffees, a phone call, and LEARN from them,” Ashton said. She believes that asking for advice from professionals can bring many opportunities, and that could all stem from just one email! Taking the step to put yourself out there is the only way for people to know and remember you.

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The network of women which CWIB connected Ashton with has empowered her to advocate for herself! Photo credit: Collegiate Women in Business

Ashton has found CWIB to be a place of education, empowerment, and mentorship and she has many goals for the future of CWIB! As the incoming Co-CEO of CWIB, Ashton wants the organization to be a network of driven women who are rooting for each other’s success. “As CWIB gets older I hope we can really tap into a strong alumni base all over the country,” Ashton said. “The job for us now is to really cement a clear and unique identity not only here at Virginia Tech, but beyond it as well.” She has committed to seeing this organization reach its potential and provide strong value to its members. “The fact that we have such a devoted and talented leadership team, staff writers, and general membership is what makes Collegiate Women in Business at Virginia Tech so special.” Empowering women is rooted in CWIB’s culture and Ashton wants that to see that continue for years to come.

Ashton is a prime example of someone who has seen the value that Collegiate Women in Business can bring its members. Anyone can pay dues, but if you really want to set yourself apart to get your dream internship and job, get involved in the organization! Ashton, we are looking forward to seeing you continue to empower other women in CWIB as one of the Co-CEO’s next year. Our organization is very lucky to have such dedicated, successful, and inspiring leaders like you!

 

By: Lina Al Taii

 

 

 

Lynne Doughtie: Inspiring Women to Climb to the Top

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KPMG CEO and Chairwoman, Lynne Doughtie. Photo credit: KPMG Website

In a time of more women holding executive positions in companies such as International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) and General Motors (GM), Virginia Tech alumna Lynne Doughtie serves as an inspiration for women with a goal to excel at their jobs and reach their goals. She is a huge believer in building confidence and taking risks in order to have a long-lasting and successful career.

Lynne Doughtie is currently the CEO and Chairman of KPMG, one of the Big Four accounting firms that offer financial audit, tax, and advisory services. In 2015, Doughtie became the first female CEO of KPMG and has also held multiple leadership positions during her time with the company. As the CEO, her goal is to foster an environment in which the next generations are nourished and can face challenges the right way.

Doughtie began her career with KPMG in the company’s audit practice after graduating from Virginia Tech in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. She originally found her love for accounting when she helped with her family’s business growing up, and decided that this was what she was meant to do.

Staying involved in Virginia Tech has remained an important part of Doughtie’s fulfillment. She is a current Cabinet Member and has served as President and Cabinet Chair for the Pamplin Advisory Council. She has also served on the Pamplin Accounting and Information Systems Advisory Board. Doughtie received the Virginia Tech University Distinguished Achievement Award in May 2018 and the Pamplin College of Business Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2007 for her involvements and contributions to the university. Aside from her awards received at Virginia Tech, Doughtie has also been named one of Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women in Business and Accounting and Today’s Magazine Top 100 Most Influential People.  

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Doughtie with Dean Sumichrest at the 2018 Pamplin Commencement Ceremony. Photo credit: Dean Sumichrest’s Twitter

Lynne Doughtie was invited to participate in a panel discussion at this year’s Hokies on Wall Street event that a handful of Collegiate Women in Business members were able to attend. During this event, she emphasized the importance of giving back to Pamplin. She said that she has been donating a part of her paycheck since she started her full-time career. Doughtie stated, “I only gave $15 and I was so proud of it. Virginia Tech did so much for me, so it has always been important for me to give back.” The CEO is a prime example of someone who lives out Ut Prosim in her life despite the fact that she graduated many years ago.

Doughtie is very involved not only in the Virginia Tech community but also on the Board of Directors of other organizations such as the National Academy Foundation (NAF), cancer-focused nonprofit LUNGevity and the Partnership for New York City.

Building confidence in your career is crucial if you want to reach your goals and have a fulfilling career. In an interview with Business Insider, Doughtie explains the way she thinks confidence is gained. She argues, “…it shouldn’t just come because you say: “I’m smart and I can do this,” I think it comes from action. It’s actually just — jump in, do it, impress the heck out of yourself, that’s how you get confidence. And then as each new challenge and opportunity comes, you jump in again.” This is a valuable point made by the CEO because no matter how well you do in your classes, it won’t matter if you don’t practice applying it somewhere. Therefore, it is a great idea to get involved in organizations on campus, do well on your projects at your part-time jobs, and/or get internships so you can apply what you learn in the classroom to these organizations. Just go out and do it.

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Doughtie’s interview with Business Insider. Photo credit: Business Insider

Like all of us, Doughtie has experienced many challenges and disappointments in her career but has kept going by learning in new positions and experiences. In the same interview with Business Insider, Doughtie stresses the importance of your professional growth of always raising your hand for new opportunities and being confident in your abilities when taking risks.  She says, “When you feel you’re most uncomfortable… that’s actually great because it means you’re growing.” In continuing on this theme, she attributes her ability to take risks as the reason why she got all of her promotions because it’s the driver for growth in your career. She explains, “Careers are really long. At 13 years it seemed, like, “If I don’t do this one thing, my career’s over.” No, it was just starting. And I think that my ability to rise through the ranks at KPMG, I was clearly benefited by having a variety of experiences.” While it may seem scary to take on a new role or ask for a promotion, Doughtie’s career showcases that it is one of the ways that new doors will open for you that can present you with new opportunities to learn and grow.

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Lynne Doughtie speaking at the Women’s Leadership Summit hosted by KPMG. Photo credit: Forbes

Becoming the first female CEO in KPMG’s history made headlines in 2015. Lynne Doughtie recognizes that this is a huge accomplishment and continually strives to empower women in the business world to help them know that success is attainable. She believes that her success is due to watching others. She explains, “I feel a sense of responsibility to reach in and encourage and sponsor and mentor, and to show women that they can do this, and that’s very powerful. It goes full circle to how we started the conversation about even just me seeing my mother and my father, and the things that they did…and you can see yourself doing that.” As women in the business world, we should empower other women and be good examples of what a successful woman looks like. Here in Collegiate Women in Business, we strive to create a supportive environment that makes our members feel ready to achieve anything they want to. Female support is a powerful thing!

Lynne Doughtie has and continues to encourage women to use their unique talents and abilities as they strive for success in their career. As she continues to pioneer the way for women in the business world through her past and current leading roles, she truly sparks inspiration for women to climb to the top.

Power Panel Recap

On Monday, March 25th, Collegiate Women in Business (CWIB)  hosted their biggest event of the year: the 2019 Power Panel. This is an annual event in which CWIB invites the entire Virginia Tech community to take part in a night filled with networking, panelist speakers, and empowering insights. The theme for this year’s Power Panel was Choose Courage: Unleash Your Full Potential. Our three panelists, Frances Reimers, Tricia Harper, and Allison Sitch (refer to the CWIB Chronicles’ article: Meet Your 2019 Power Panelists for more information), inspired attendees with their own courageous experiences of being a woman in business.

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Our three Power Panelists: Tricia Harper, Frances Reimers, and Allison Sitch. Photo courtesy of CWIB historians.

The night began with a catered networking session with the panelists for CWIB members only, giving our members a unique opportunity to speak one-on-one with these incredible women. After networking, students from all across Virginia Tech’s campus arrived eager to hear from the three leading industry professionals attending the panel. The panel was then moderated by CWIB’s Chief Communications Officer, Neha Shah. Shah asked prompting questions throughout the night, and the panelists were excited to share their life experiences with the room.

Frances Reimers as CEO of Firestarter Communications, Tricia Harper as Partner at KPMG, and Allison Sitch as a PR representative for Marriott Hotels collectively highlighted four main ideas to live by in the corporate world:

Interests and Passions:

In order to reach your full potential, it is crucial to discover and define what you are truly passionate about. This can be anything from your major to a small interest in your life, and it can occur at any time in your life, as we are always growing. Reimers revealed how her majors and personal interests were very different, but in order to excel in her industry, she combined her knowledge and passions for each. Reimers shared, “The bridge may be foggy at the beginning, but with every step, it gets clearer,” referring to one’s journey in finding themselves and what they choose to do with their life.

Harper was focused on sharing the importance of being open-minded in terms of your passions. She advised the room to be grounded in who you are as a person and ask yourself what excites you. Then, you must be open to where that will take you in life. If you think about what you love, you will find things that are uniquely you, and those qualities will take you far in life if you let them! Simply put, “Do something that you will love,” said Sitch, agreeing with Harper. Motivating factors are a big aspect of discovering what you are passionate about as well. Harper announced how she is motivated by having an impact, even if it is small, every single day. “Everyone wants to change the world but no one is willing to make an impact on the person next to you,” she proclaimed. No matter what gives you passion or feeds your interests, find those factors and incorporate them into your everyday life, both personal and professional.

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CWIB members bonding and networking. Photo courtesy of CWIB historians

Finding the Right Company:  

A big factor in determining your happiness while having a professional career is finding a company that fits you as a person. Knowing what qualities you hope to find in a company can go a long way in ensuring you have vast opportunities in the future. As an employee for Marriott Hotels, Sitch shared how important it is that a company recognizes the right that everyone has a future and potential. She finds joy in working for the family company, Marriott, because it is welcoming to all, not just to other companies, but to individual workers. In fact, the new president, David Marriott, has worked every role in the hotel. From making beds and checking people in, to handling the financial books, Marriott has developed a sense of gratitude for each and every employee, creating a work environment that benefits all who are involved.

Similarly, Harper wanted to find a company where she could have countless opportunities to further her career. KPMG allowed her to work with C-level executives directly out of college, and from there she began her journey to become a partner for the firm. Harper revealed that the people and values of KPMG are what has kept her at the company for nearly two decades. She noted the importance of finding a place to work where you will enjoy spending the entire day with the people, as your career is a big time commitment in your life. Reimers added how she always made sure to take part in nonprofits and give back to the community while she was working for other agencies, as well as in her own company. In starting her company, Reimers actually incorporated all of the aspects she desired to have in different companies into one single company. As she put it, she connected the dots!

Finally, finding a company that supports your goals as a woman is crucial. Marriott Hotels, Firestarter Communications, and KPMG all support women in the workplace, which is reassuring to hear. For example, KPMG has previously offered Harper sabbaticals, time off, and flexible work arrangements when her professional and personal goals were both prominent in her life. As a mother of three, and a successful partner at KPMG, Harper revealed her gratitude for the firm, as she did not have to choose between her career and her family. Harper proclaimed, “We always talk about work-life balance, but really it is all life,” and KMPG realizes that in its employees. Go out into the corporate world and believe that you can have both professional and personal ambitions!

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Our wonderful panelists pose with CWIB members, Neha Shah and Andra Scaliti. Photo courtesy of CWIB historians.

Risk Taking:

A common theme among the journeys of each of the three women on stage included the idea of taking risks. Being unsure about the future is one of the scariest feelings in the world, yet it can lead to some of the greatest results. With risk and courage, comes growth as well. Growth becomes an indefinite journey and a significant one in our transitions throughout the business world. Sitch stated how important it is to always be motivated to learn, transform, and “become better.” “Success is never really final,” she added. Each panelist has taken risks in their careers, and it has led to great success for each one of them.

Sitch shared that the biggest risk she took in her corporate career was moving to the United States. Encouraged multiple times, Sitch agreed to leave her position overseeing 94 hotels around the world and transition to overseeing 5,300 hotels in America alone. She revealed that a mentor of hers once said, “As best you can allow your career to unfold,” and she has lived by that ever since her transition. Although the transition was not easy, Sitch declared, “I had the ability. I had the company. I had the courage.” Change may not always come easy, but taking risks can lead to amazing benefits. You simply have to know and believe in your own abilities.

Reimers believed in her ability to part ways from the advertising agency she was with to form an agency of her own, grounded in her desired ideals. She had to create a company from scratch, funded by her own savings. She personally came up with the brand, social media, logo, and many more details concerning the blossoming company. “We as women often talk ourselves out of something, and we need to stop that,” she announced to the audience. Having the courage to know where she wanted to be and what she wanted to do was the foundation she built her company on.

Lastly, Harper decided the normal, linear path to partner was not one she desired. She decided to take a non-client-based path, despite people telling her she would not make partner with that course. She relied on her courage to persevere in her journey to make partner. “Courage is really about anchoring to your cores values,” Harper said. She did not let those around her who were discouraging affect her perseverance, and neither should you!

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Five of our CWIB members at the networking session prior to the panel. Photo courtesy of CWIB historians.

Relationships:

Building connections is an important aspect of developing your professional brand and your personal relationships. Harper advises that you begin with a network you are comfortable in, and expand from there. Sitch recommends that you go into every discussion with an open mind, believing that people are good, and genuinely talk with those around you. Reimers reassured the audience not to let what happens in the office impact the relationships that mean the most to you. In our strive for success, we may experience failure, but we cannot let those difficult times define us. “Know the difference between what you can control and what you cannot,” stated Reimers. Another key component Reimers highlighted in relation to building strong relationships is understanding that life is not a competition with your neighbor. “You are enough, so stop worrying about how you measure up to others,” Reimers revealed in an empowering statement. Be present, and your abilities will guide you to success!

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Present and upcoming members of the CWIB leadership team stand with the panelists. Photo courtesy of CWIB historians.

Overall, the night was filled with encouraging insight from our three panelists, Frances Reimers, Tricia Harper, and Allison Sitch. We hope you take the advice given by each of these women and use it to make strides in the business world. We at Collegiate Women in Business cannot wait to see all that you become!  

 

By: Allison Wood

 

How Entrepreneur, Komal Ahmad, is Fighting Hunger Through Technology

Komal Ahmad is a woman on a mission to solve what she believes is the world’s dumbest problem: hunger. Her start-up company, Copia, is a technology platform that connects businesses with excess food to nonprofits. The businesses schedule pickups of their excess food on the app, Copia Connect, and Copia drivers come to pick up the food and deliver it to nonprofits in need. Nonprofits create profiles on the app to indicate their food needs and constraints and request recurring or on-demand food donations so that they only receive food on days when they are able to accept it. Copia has recovered over 1 million pounds of food and delivered over 900,000 meals according to its website. The 29-year-old was featured on Forbes 30 under 30 and Copia is recognized as one of the top three startups run by a woman in the U.S. to name a few of the numerous awards and recognition Komal has received.

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Ahmad was featured on the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 List. Photo credit: Forbes

Komal studied International Health and Global Development at the University of California (UC), Berkeley. She had no plans of becoming an entrepreneur and starting her own technology company, but rather was training to become an officer in the Navy upon graduation. Meeting impoverished and hungry veterans is what really made her start thinking about issues of poverty, homelessness, and food insecurity. In this Forbes article Komal explains how she encountered a homeless man who was begging for food one day and felt compelled to invite him to join her for lunch. He was a veteran who had just returned from Iraq and hadn’t eaten in three days. Ahmad explains that she thought, “This is a veteran, someone who made a selfless sacrifice for our country, only to come home to face yet another battle…to add insult to injury, right across the street Berkeley’s dining hall is throwing away thousands of pounds of perfectly edible food.” After her lunch with the veteran, Ahmad was determined to alleviate the hunger around her but was told by Berkeley’s dining hall that there was too much liability in donating unused food to the local homeless community. Unsatisfied with this answer, Komal did more research and eventually convinced her university to start a food recovery program. Starting this program, Komal saw firsthand how hard it was to match places with excess food to nonprofits. She would call nonprofits in the area and they wouldn’t be interested in the food she had recovered or would only be able to take a small portion of it.

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Komal allowed her passion to become her career. Photo credit: Experience Life 

Three years after graduating from UC Berkeley, Komal founded Copia in 2015 and experimented with various business models while she was starting out. First, she thought that Copia should be a non-profit, but found the time it took to apply for grant funding to be consuming all her time. So, she decided to see if the businesses she worked with would pay Copia a percentage of the tax deduction they receive from their donations in exchange for data about where their food surpluses are coming from. The businesses agreed to this arrangement. Copia quantifies the impact of the businesses that use its service, like how many people they feed by donating food and what their environmental impact is, so they can share that information with internal and external stakeholders. It’s really a win-win situation for businesses with excess food and communities with people in need.

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Copia has recovered over 1 million pounds of food! Photo credit: Millenial

Komal has hit rough patches in getting Copia to where it is today. She admits that there were times when she was sleeping on a blow-up mattress at a friend’s apartment and rationing out a pizza for a week because she didn’t have any money. Additionally, without a business background, Komal has had to surround herself with people who have expertise in areas that she does not. Despite the obstacles she’s faced, her mission to find a solution to the world’s dumbest problem has pushed her to keep going.

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Komal is solving the social problem of hunger through her business, Copia! Photo credit: Millenial 

In the future, Komal hopes that Copia can expand beyond food and redistribute items like clothes and books, understanding that many of the same logistics issues exist with the redistribution of these items. Her LinkedIn bio begins with “The reasonable woman adapts herself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to herself. All progress, therefore, depends on the unreasonable woman.” Komal has found success by believing that she is capable of solving a huge global problem through a simple yet well-thought-out solution. She has persisted through the trials of entrepreneurship and is on her way to growing Copia and recovering more food. Komal was once a student with a growing passion for a problem she saw in her community. She is proof of the fact that if you believe in yourself, you can turn your passions into a career and make a great impact on the world.

 

By: Allison Desantis