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.

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.

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!

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!

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


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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 

Meet Your 2019 Power Panelists!

Collegiate Women in Business’ most empowering event of the year, Power Panel, is taking place on Monday, March 25th, so I want to give you all a sneak peek at the amazing women who will be speaking at this year’s panel! All three of them will provide helpful advice, inspiring stories, and deep insight into their values that help them strive to be courageous in their respective careers. With the everyday challenges that arise on the job, they are required to make courageous decisions that leave a positive impact on themselves and the people around them. They all started off as motivated students such as ourselves, eager to learn as much as they could before tackling the workforce. Before these women answer your most pressing questions, here’s an introduction to each of them in order to get to know them a little better.



Frances Reimers  

Hometown: Cheyenne, WY

College Education: University of Wyoming; University of Minnesota Duluth; Johns Hopkins University

Favorite Pastimes: traveling, watching sports, going to theater/concerts, cooking, fashion

Favorite Quote: “You can bullshit the fans, but not the contestants.”

Frances Reimers is the founder and CEO of Firestarter Communications, which requires her to manage all aspects of the company, such as Accounting, Human Resources, Legal, and Marketing. When asked why she was motivated to establish her own Public Relations (PR) firm, Reimers responded that it was necessary she do so. “I had accomplished all that I could at my previous agency. I knew the services I wanted to provide and the clients I wanted to serve, so I saw no logical reason to delay creating my own firm,” Reimers said.

Reimers is proud of what Firestarter offers in order for their clients to “create, grow, manage, and protect their brand.” The services they provide include “personal brand and message development/enhancement, strategic planning, creation, and management of social media and content marketing, media representation, reputation management and repair strategies, and personal brand training for individuals and teams,” Reimers explains. Her clients range from individual athletes, such as NFL players, to entire small businesses. Reimers must educate and be educated about the specific needs of each entity she works with. “Many people don’t fully understand what PR  professionals do and the expected return on investment of their work. I spend a large amount of time with each client educating them about marketing and public relations best practices, project timing, and expectations,” Reimers said.

Every day, Reimers gets to help others reach to be their best selves. She loves being an educator by teaching clients about the creative process of business and feels this creates a strong client-vendor relationship. Reimers feels that “If I’m successful [with clients], what I do will serve them well not just at the moment, but for the rest of their life.” In addition to working with all of her clients, Reimers involves herself in philanthropic activities that are meaningful to her. Her PR career and volunteer work assure her that she has left a lasting impact in her profession and on her community, which is incredibly rewarding.

Tricia Harper

Tricia Harper

Hometown: South Dakota; spent high school in Chesterfield, VA

College Education: James Madison University

Favorite Pastimes: Anything outside on our farm (gardening, running around with the kids, cleaning the coop); and journaling. I’ve been journaling since high school 23 years ago…

Favorite Quote: “You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to START to be great.”

Tricia Harper was the first in her family to graduate from college and was persuaded to choose a major where she could start a career immediately following school. Accounting naturally came easy to her, so Harper made an effort to specifically talk to the accounting firms. “I immediately was attracted to the Partners from KPMG, as their style and approach, even in the interview, just resonated with me,” Harper said. As soon as she started interning at the company, she found that KPMG really does care about their employees as individuals. Since then, she is pleased to have spent the last 20 years working here! Harper admits she tends to lack confidence, so establishing relationships with co-workers over time is really helpful to her. “It’s important to find people you trust, and that are courageous enough to speak with candor, which I define as the equal blending of truth with love!” Harper said.

Harper is currently the President of KPMG’s Network of Women, which provides opportunities for career advancement for women in the workforce. “Over the last several years we have done some really cool events to stretch our women,” Harper said. Some of these events include improv to find your voice, alumni networking, and workshops focused on risk-taking and building one’s brand. As Harper continually strives to reach her potential, she feels that “being asked by our current Chairman and CEO to serve as her Chief of Staff for the last 5 years” has left the most lasting impression and shaped her as a leader.

As women in the workforce, there is more pressure on us to have a consistent work-life balance. Harper’s greatest achievement with KPMG is not only the fact that she was elected into the Partnership position two years ago but how she was able to do it at this firm. While this process took longer for her than other peers, she was able to achieve this despite changing her career path several times, taking a sabbatical in order to prioritize her three children, and working from home so she and her husband could start a ‘hobby farm.’ I respect Harper so much for this, as she is a proper representation of how women can successfully be there for their families and establish their career simultaneously, even in times where this may seem impossible. Her courage and persistence showed her that this was the path she knew she was supposed to follow.

Allison Sitch

Allison Sitch

Hometown: Southampton, England

College Education: Suffolk Hospitality College, England

Favorite Pastimes: time with my family, traveling to new destinations, & watching live music performances

Favorite Quote: I have two:

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Gandhi

“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” -Margaret Thatcher

Allison Sitch works in PR for Marriott Hotels. In the hospitality industry, PR is very important, as Sitch tells The CWIB Chronicles thatA great PR person must be prepared to deal with things that make them uncomfortable…It’s a delicate dance to reassure customers that you’ll get to the bottom of something while simultaneously reassuring employees that you have their back.” She stresses that the “fluffy work” PR employees get a reputation for clearly doesn’t play a role at Marriott. “The team I work with is best-in-class at moving quickly to address issues and opportunities real-time and in multiple languages…We are recognized as an essential lever in an arsenal of tools that must be brought to life to safeguard the brand reputation and also to complete a marketing mix,” Sitch said.

Sitch’s job requires that she always puts the customer first, and there are many different types of customers she interacts with daily. “The public-at-large, the media, our own senior leaders, investors, hotels owners, and employees” all request her services. “Listening to their requests, understanding their needs, being able to translate information into strategic plans and actions, and then deliver in a way that demonstrates a benefit to the business is probably our biggest mission,” Sitch said.

In order to reach her potential in her career, Sitch shares the attributes that help her thrive in the PR Hospitality industry. Having a great attitude, being energized about your work, and therefore, working hard at your job are essential components in Sitch’s course to success. She stresses that you should “Never burn your bridges.” Establishing relationships with people who help you learn and grow are crucial for your advancement. “I believe you learn from the people you love to work with but learn even more from people you don’t enjoy working with as much…You have to take the good with the bad,” Sitch says. Finally, if you desire to be a leader, you must “be a leader that others choose to follow.” People choose a job not only for the work but for the type of people the company recruits. “They choose to give their loyalty and work for those they respect, admire and are inspired by,” Sitch said.

In addition to leadership, female empowerment is at the core of Sitch’s mindset, as it goes hand-in-hand with giving everyone an equal opportunity. Sitch is fortunate to work for female leaders who prioritize enhancing opportunities for women. She also gets to “work in a discipline that boasts many exceptional ladies and my circle of positive female influence also extends into the world of Public Relations agencies, editors and journalists.” She realizes that there are “So many brilliant women out there that have not waited for the call to progress, they have just done it,” so what is stopping each of you from doing the same?

After reading about each of Reimer’s, Harper’s, and Sitch’s backgrounds, I hope their stories have already motivated you to reach your full potential. Don’t miss out on your chance to be empowered even further when these women speak at Power Panel, located at The Inn at Virginia Tech on Monday, March 25th at 7:00 pm. Come with questions and an open mind to learn more about how you can always choose courage, no matter what obstacle you are facing.   

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By: Emma Harwood 

Ernst and Young Spotlight: Building a Better Working World

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Photo credit: EY Website

Meet Ernst and Young (EY), a global professional services firm that provides advisory, assurance, tax and transaction services to their clients in a wide variety of markets. We are also very proud and humbled to share that they are one of the sponsors of Collegiate Women In Business (CWIB)! Among the 260,000 employees worldwide, there is a culture of high performing teams who bring diverse perspectives together, to work towards their motto of  “building a better working world.” We spoke with CWIB member, Shannon Keye, and campus recruiter, Wes Barrow to find out how Ernst and Young builds a better working world while simultaneously supporting women in business.

One way that EY is building a better working world is with “big initiatives of going digital, trying to push engagement teams to use digital platforms for everything that they do. This builds a better working world because the services they provide help their clients to help others,” says Shannon Keye, who has accepted a full-time offer after completing two internships with the firm. “[The company] is forward thinking and wants to beat the rat race to digital ties.” EY also aims to support “high performing teams with diverse mindsets by sourcing [diverse] talent through our campus recruiting and helping candidates that historically haven’t been in the candidate pipeline. [For example], EY hires people with autism in Philadelphia,” according to Wes Barrow.

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Photo credit: EY Website

“Being able to give back to the community in a variety of ways,” is one of Wes’s favorite parts about the company culture at EY. “[Ernst and Young] is big into community service through internal programs called Connect Day where we shut the firm down and go out and serve the local community entirely for one business day. We also have a program called College Map where we go to underserved high schools and talk about career progression and transitioning into the workforce out of high school or into college pursuit.”

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Photo credit: EY Website

When it comes to women at Ernst and Young, there are multiple resources to guarantee that they get the support they need to succeed. One of those resources is the Professional Networks, which are “organizations within the firm that give you the opportunity to meet people of any level. You can ask them for help and lean on them if you need to,” says Shannon. “You can network with other employees that you share a culture, race, or gender with, such as other African Americans or women.” Wes participates in a “working parent network because I’ve got [two sons and a daughter]. I’m able to connect with other parents about going from the younger to teenage years. We’re all about connecting and incorporating values.” EY also aims to support women within the firm and in business in general through “conferences geared towards the increase [of[ women  [in certain fields] such as the Women in Technology Conference that we use as a recruiting tool, and also looking at all aspects of the firm to make sure we have a good gender balance.” According to general data, Wes says that more than fifty percent of hires are women!

Photo credit: EY Website

Both Shannon Keye and Wes Barrow agree that the opportunities and relationships built are their favorite aspects of working for Ernst and Young. Shannon “really likes the mentorship program, where you’re given a peer advisor, and a counselor who is more experienced. I would IM them all the time to ask any questions I had, and they were so helpful. It was really nice to be able to lean on them.” The diversity that Ernst and Young has to offer was another important aspect that attracted Shannon. “I saw diversity, people of color and women in leadership positions.” For Wes, one of the best aspects are “the relationships that are built both internally and externally. [Also,] the professional development opportunities you get are outstanding. We are a people culture; we are only as good as the people that we have and they’re only going to be good if we continue to create opportunities for everyone at all levels.”

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Photo credit: EY Website

At a firm like Ernst and Young that focuses on bringing strengths and weaknesses together through building a better working world, serving the community, and supporting every kind of employee with the resources they need to succeed, you are sure to achieve your personal and professional goals! Collegiate Women In Business is so fortunate to have had the support and mentorship of Ernst and Young over the years. If you’re interested in this firm, keep an eye out for future events we have with them or reach out to members who have worked/work there!


By: Abby Perkins 

Deloitte: Mentor Spotlight

Collegiate Women in Business (CWIB) would not be the organization it is today without the amazing support we get from companies year in and year out! In today’s article, we will be highlighting Deloitte. Not only does Deloitte support CWIB, but they are also the number one recruiter of students at Virginia Tech. Let’s dive in and get an inside look at what Deloitte is all about!

Two of CWIB’s founders, Shannon Cabrey and Catie Kidwell, have been working at Deloitte since graduating in 2016. Photo credit: Shannon Cabrey

To get started, CWIB reached out to Marilyn Aliaga and asked her about the company culture of Deloitte and the different programs offered to personnel.

  1. What is your role, and how did you find yourself at Deloitte Global?

“I am currently a Senior Business Program Specialist at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“Deloitte Global”) and support the Deloitte Global Talent Acquisition team, specializing in Strategy and Operations. Prior to joining Deloitte Global, I worked at Deloitte Consulting LLP, where I supported the Human Capital Consulting practice and spent a couple of years in the Deloitte & Touche LLP Technology Risk Advisory practice as well. I actually interned with Deloitte & Touche during the summer following my junior year at VT and have been with one Deloitte entity or another ever since!”

  1. Deloitte’s stated purpose is “to make an impact that matters.” How has a company culture been fostered where people feel like they matter?

“Personally, during my second year with Deloitte & Touche LLP, my colleague and I had an idea for an event that involved asking some our lead female partners to share their backgrounds/stories with younger female practitioners to elaborate on how they got to where they are in their careers. We had the opportunity to pitch the idea to one of our female partner sponsors and soon enough we made the “Letters to My Younger Self” Washington, D.C. event a reality – we had ~75 of our Greater Washington Area practitioners join and hear four female partners read personal letters that they wrote to themselves, where they detailed their setbacks, achievements, and overall advice. It is an awesome feeling to be at an organization where I was able to experience first-hand the investment and support from our leaders, to offer practitioners at every level.”

  1. Can you touch on Deloitte’s Leadership Development programs and how you have grown as a leader during your time with Deloitte?

“During my first year at Deloitte & Touche LLP, I looked up to my older team members for guidance and help, but very quickly learned that I was expected to teach and guide interns and younger staff as I progressed in my career. My team leaders have continuously provided me with opportunities to push myself out of my comfort zone through leading client meetings and managing workstreams, but they’ve always been there to support me whenever I’ve needed the help or honest feedback.”

CWIB member, Sara Khorramshahgol, interned at Deloitte this past summer!  Photo credit: Sara Khorramshahgol

Next, we asked Kristy Laughlin to speak on her role at Deloitte & Touche LLP and how the company practices corporate social responsibility.

  1. What is your role within the company and how did you find yourself at Deloitte?

“I am a Senior Manager in Deloitte & Touche LLP’s Risk and Financial Advisory practice out of the Arlington, Virginia office. I found myself at Deloitte as a student at Virginia Tech, much like how many of you may find your first job!  I was an Executive Officer of Pamplin’s “Information Systems Society” at the time, and we invited employers to speak to our student members once a month in Pamplin to explain the various career paths available.  Deloitte came to present to us one month and I was instantly drawn to the culture and people within the organization, as well as the leadership opportunities available. I was selected to attend the Deloitte National Leadership Conference that summer and learned more about Deloitte and what types of services Deloitte provides to clients.  The following summer, I participated in the internship program and then started full time after graduating from Virginia Tech.”

  1. The Chief Inclusion Officer speaks of “tone at the top” and how important setting an example from higher leadership is when fostering an inclusive work environment. Have you felt or seen the effects of this trickle-down method?

“As a Senior Manager, I have witnessed Deloitte leadership emphasizing how critical it is for us to foster team environments where everyone on the team feels that they can connect, belong, and grow. I’ve seen the effects of this when I am in meetings with Deloitte leaders, and they make sure to call on everyone at the table to share their thoughts during meetings, regardless of their career level or background, and treat them with the same degree of respect.”

  1. Corporate Citizenship is important to your company – what opportunities have you been presented with to give back?

“This started for me on day one at Deloitte, when I was at the Deloitte National Leadership Conference as a sophomore at Virginia Tech.  During the conference, we dedicated an afternoon to working at a local food bank where 500 Deloitte leadership participants like myself volunteered in packing food kits for families in need.  As an intern and throughout my career as a full-time employee, I have participated in Deloitte’s annual “Impact Day” where all Deloitte people spend a full day away from the office and out in the community helping others.

Deloitte has also supported me giving back as a Board Member at Virginia Tech, serving as the Vice Chair of the Pamplin Recent Alumni Board (RAB) and as a member of the Accounting and Information Systems (ACIS) Emerging Leaders Board (ELB).”

Virginia Tech students are incredibly lucky to have a successful and passionate alumni network that is willing to share their stories with us. We would like to thank Deloitte for its continued support of CWIB and our mission of empowering, preparing, and connecting our members. A special thank you to Marilyn and Kristy for taking the time to share their experiences with us!

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CWIB’s Chief Technology Officer, Kinsey Donovan, also interned with Deloitte this summer. Here is a picture of her at Impact Day. Photo credit: Kinsey Donovan

About Deloitte

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. In the United States, Deloitte refers to one or more of the US member firms of DTTL, their related entities that operate using the “Deloitte” name in the United States and their respective affiliates. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting. Please see http://www.deloitte.com/about to learn more about our global network of member firms.

This publication contains general information only and Deloitte is not, by means of this publication rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor.

Deloitte shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.


By: Cara Yates 

Do’s and Don’ts of a Virtual Interview

As technology evolves and becomes more functional, more and more companies are beginning to use it as a way to interview prospective employees and to save money. A couple of significant advantages of going virtual is that they can save on both the travel costs and time spent sending employees to college campuses and other recruitment locations. If you have a virtual interview in the near future, here are a few do’s and don’ts to think about for a successful experience!

Caption: Keep in mind that your interview is not going into a black hole once it leaves your computer screen. If you move on to the next step of the hiring process, you will likely meet with the same people who watched your interview. Try to put your best self forward and display your personality in your video! Photo credit: Your Career Intel

1.DO Be Extra Prepared

Unlike an in-person interview, virtual interviews require you to prepare not only yourself but your technology and your environment. If you have roommates, it’s important to make sure they are aware of where and when you will be during this interview so they do not interrupt you. Further, it’s important to consider the network you will be doing the interview on. For phone interviews, a landline is the most reliable method. For virtual or Skype interviews, having a strong internet connection can be the most important. For instance, you may think going to the library and reserving a private room may be a good idea, but when there are a lot of people in the same location, the network connection may be slow or pause. In addition, it’s important to prepare your space. A clumsy background can be distracting to the viewer, but a clean stark white may also seem too formal. Try to find a balance of neutral and clean to complement your interview.

Caption: Virtual interviews come in many different forms! If an employer tells you there is a virtual interview, it’s important to clarify the form of the interview and the specific details! Photo credit: INC

2.DON’T Write Out Answers

It can be helpful to have your resume on hand during an interview, or a few notes on a flashcard. However, there is a difference between referencing notes and writing out word-for-word answers to common interview questions. Of course, it is still a good preparation technique to practice answering common interview questions, but reading them off a paper during your interview is not a good idea. Not only will you look unprepared and unconfident, but reading off a script will also blatantly affect how the interviewer perceives you and your professionalism. For a successful interview, be confident, trust yourself, and speak naturally.

3.Do Dress (Half) The Part

Although you won’t be meeting anyone in person, dressing professionally and making sure you appear polished and neat is important. In fact, it’s even more important to dress the part for a virtual interview because, without your physical presence, the interviewer can only get a sense of who you are and if you are a good candidate through two ways. The first is what you say, and the second is what they see. If they see that you look professional, it shows you care about this opportunity. One tip is to make sure that you test your location and webcam in advance. The lighting in the room and the view from your webcam all affect how you look. Plus, if you test and know that only your upper body will show, you can stay in your sweatpants and just dress your top half!

Caption: To avoid being caught off guard during the interview, or having to improvise when your technology or plan doesn’t work, make sure you prepare ahead of time! Photo credit: EZ Talks

4. DON’T Be Shy

You may be confused about how the virtual interview process works for your specific situation or you may simply be unsure about how to ask questions. Some companies, such as EY, use virtual interviews through pre-recorded videos on a platform which allows you to practice before you submit your final attempt. Others expect to call you on Skype or over the phone and interview you in real time. Prior to your interview, you should confirm the details and the procedure for the virtual interview in order to avoid any complications. During your interview, it’s important to speak up and ask questions about what the next step will be and when you should hear back. Being proactive will help you in the long run!  

5. DO Practice Before 

You may have experience with interviews and feel like you don’t need to practice for this one. However, it is important to practice every time, especially for virtual interviews. You may feel uncomfortable speaking in front of a webcam or on a Skype call, or you may not know how to speak on the phone without being able to see the person you are talking to. By practicing beforehand, you can see how you look and find areas to improve on when you are speaking. Another important step is to have someone else watch your recorded practice interview. This is useful because they may notice something about you from their perspective which can help you improve. A key tip for webcam or Skype interviews is to practice looking at the webcam and away from your image on the screen. Although it may be hard to not focus on how you look, it’s essential to show that you are paying attention to the interviewer and not something else.


A virtual interview can be daunting at first, but learning how to prepare for it can make a career-changing difference! These interviews will become more and more common as technological innovations increase, and knowing how to approach them will only help. CWIB hosts many interview preparation workshops with companies which can be very helpful for learning about a specific company’s process. Make sure to take advantage of these workshops to keep learning about interview skills!


By: Lina al Taii

Networking on a Daily Basis

Learn why it’s important to network with peers and professors!

Photo credit: E Releases

As the new semester begins, it’s important to start strong and use new classes as an opportunity to meet people and make connections. Networking is a skill that’s important to use not only in clubs and professional organizations but as well as in your daily life. You never know when someone who may seem like just a normal acquaintance can become the source of good opportunities in your future. For example, the person you are sitting next to in your class might seem like another ordinary college student like you, but by taking a chance to talk to them and make a connection with them, you are opening yourself up to opportunities that may arise from your friendship with them!

Networking is a broad term that may refer to many different ways of connecting with people. The way most people think of it is in its formal sense, such as meeting older professionals at career fairs or networking events. While those are very important places to network, starting simple with the people surrounding you can be great practice because they are easily accessible and there is usually less pressure.

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Use this guide to networking to make lasting connections with those you meet! Photo credit: EarnMyDegree

Networking on a daily basis is much easier than it sounds. The most important thing to remember is to be friendly and talk about what you have in common with the other person(s). Common ground is always a great way to form a lasting connection with others because it allows you to get to know other people. It’s also important to not only talk to people with the sole intention of making a connection but to talk to them and get to know them with respect. This applies to both networking on a daily basis as well as networking at professional events with companies. Once you find a mutual topic that you two can talk about, it’ll be easier to digress into other topics (like future job opportunities, perhaps!)

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CWIB goes on several treks on the east coast that allow members to network with countless professionals!. Locations of treks include New York, Washington D.C., and Nashville. Photo credit: Collegiate Women in Business

One great networking opportunity for anyone in CWIB is to simply reach out and connect with upperclassmen in CWIB. Though it may be daunting, remember that they were in your place and can help you! “During my sophomore year, I had a coffee chat with one of the co-founders to ask for advice on how to land an internship. I didn’t just walk out of that meeting with tips on how to get an internship, but I also formed a relationship with her,” senior Heather Sangalang shared. “The following year, she reached out to me and told me about an internship opportunity with the firm she works at now, and if I did not make that connection the previous year, I may not have this job opportunity! I am where I am now because of making this connection.” This goes to show that getting to know your peers is not only great because you get to gain a new friend, but also because it’s wonderful to enter the professional work-world with connections.

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Some CWIB leaders attended a Pamplin networking event and mingled with other Pamplin faculty and alumni! Photo credit: Pamplin College of Business

Aside from getting to know your peers and forming professional connections with them, it is also a good idea to talk to your professors and get to know them. The best way to form a connection with a professor in your field is just to introduce yourself, visit during office hours, and get to know them! Many times, you may learn a lot about the field or career you want to enter by speaking with your professors. In my case, when I spoke to my Economics professor, I got the opportunity to participate in economics experiments and studies, and get paid for doing so! Networking also applies to club or organization sponsors, advisors, and other professional people you may be in contact with. If you make the effort to get to know them, you can learn a lot about how they got to where they were, and the different routes you can take in your career. This is also a valuable part of networking, and a fantastic incentive to step out of your comfort zone and talk to others.

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Monthly meetings are attended by several of members, so chat to one (or two, or three!). Photo credit: Collegiate Women in Business

Ultimately, the choice to speak up and meet people or sit back and observe quietly is your own. Remember, networking in college before entering the professional world doesn’t have to begin at job fairs or organizations. Taking the first step to start in your classes on a daily basis will prepare you for the professional world and give you the opportunity to practice with your peers. Collegiate Women in Business events are great places to practice your networking! The next monthly meeting is on February 6th, so we encourage you to approach someone you don’t already know and start up a conversation! See you all there!


By: Lina al Taii