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Fordham Women in Business Conference Focuses on Connection and Leadership in the Workplace

Featured Events | Mar 12, 2021 |

Empowering Women During COVID and Beyond: Fordham Women in Business Conference Focuses on Connection and Leadership in the Workplace
By Emily Rochotte

The 22nd Annual Fordham Women in Business Conference – held virtually on February 26 – brought together over 150 female professionals and their male allies from all over the world. Share the Vision: Advocate, Connect, Empower was both the theme of this year’s event and a recurring message from the presenters.

Kicking off the three-hour conference, Dean Donna Rapaccioli greeted attendees with an introductory message about the power of women in leadership, citing the correlations between countries who have female leaders and lower rates of COVID-19.

“I do believe that women have a special way of leading,” remarked Rapaccioli. “We are bold, we are innovative, but we’re also very compassionate in the way that we approach things.”

The conference’s virtual format opened the door for a more geographically diverse audience than ever before, explained Fordham Women in Business Co-President Stephanie Parrotta, MBA ‘21.

“After we realized that an in-person event wasn’t an option, we were tasked with figuring out a way to keep the audience engaged on a virtual platform. The positives of this were connectivity. We were able to have speakers and attendees from all over the United States, not necessarily those just local to New York City.”

The first conference panel centered on the topic of Building for the Future. Panelists from Cedars-Sinai, KPMG and NBCUniversal shared their insights on the importance of strong leadership in the workplace during COVID and post-COVID times. Conversation topics included sponsorship, asking for help and leading by example 

“Sponsorship is important,” advised Doreen Liu, who has had a lengthy career as a transfer pricing professional at KPMG. “It’s not just someone mentoring you, but finding someone in your organization that’s higher up than you and who can pull you up.”

The best way to lead is by example, Liu went on to share. Especially when work-life balance boundaries have blurred during the pandemic. It’s okay to leave at the end of the day to pick your children up from school or go to a hair appointment. Show those on your team that they are allowed to be human by modeling with your own actions.

Following the panel, attendees had the opportunity to select a breakout session, choosing between Negotiating in the Workplace and Corporate Meditation/Emotional Intelligence.

Questions were flowing non-stop for recruiter and career coach Lesley Alegría, facilitator of the Negotiating in the Workplace. Alegría stressed the importance of negotiating, asking questions so you are equipped to negotiate effectively, and insisted that women should always ask for a higher compensation rate.

“You are expected to negotiate,” explained Alegría.

“Negotiating is more than just salary. It’s severance, time off, work hours, separation agreements.”

Requesting a negotiation is not just for new hires. Alegría advised rewriting your job description to review with your supervisor when you find that your work no longer matches what was on the original description.

“It is important to know what your skills are worth,” remarked attendee Priyanka Patwary, MBA ‘24. “It’s also very encouraging to negotiate your salary package at the time of a job offer. You want to make sure you are getting what you are worth.”

A corporate meditation and emotional intelligence session offered by Mandy Ansari, founder of Modern Girl Media, tackled coping with stress, anxiety, imposter syndrome and being comfortable with your decisions. To deal with overwhelming feelings, Ansari recommended the 17 Second Manifestation Technique, which states that the law of attraction begins after 17 seconds of holding the same singular thought.

The day’s second panel, Knowing Your Value, brought together speakers from Monday.com, Warner Media, Capitolis, the London Stock Exchange, and Shiseido, to discuss the importance of getting to know yourself and your values, taking risks and supporting one another. As something 75% of women experience, imposter syndrome was a topic of conversation time and time again throughout the day. Building relationships and a strong community, the panelists advised, is a key way of embracing your worth and empowering one another.

“We wanted this conference to be an opportunity for us to connect across diverse backgrounds, industries, and positions. To learn from and empower each other.” shared Fordham Women in Business Co-President Belen Prebisch, MBA ‘21.

The day concluded with closing remarks from Lyndsay Cruz, executive director of ACM Lifting Lives, who shared how taking risks and overcoming fear can lead you to a dream job.

“Never before in my career was I been able to say, ‘I’m worth this.’” admitted Cruz.

“There was always a man who was my boss. There was always someone who was getting promoted before me, but in this position I had nothing to lose.”



Emily Rochotte is a social media manager and writer creating content and social strategies for small businesses.

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