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Women in Business: Be an Advocate and a Facilitator

Featured Events | Mar 04, 2020 |

At the 21st Annual Fordham Women in Business Conference held at the Gabelli School of Business on February 28, female leaders from across different sectors introduced March’s Women History Month by offering advice and insights on the future for gender equality in business.

The conference, titled, Beyond All Limits: Shaping our Future, featured an array of panelists who shared what they have learned over the course of their respective careers and took the opportunity to share mistakes, triumphs, tales, and pieces of wisdom with those in attendance at the Gabelli School of Business. 

Key takeaways from the afternoon? Be an advocate for yourself and your career path, as well as a facilitator for others trying to break into the industry.

Being an Advocate

The afternoon began with Defining Your Path, a panel hosted by Caroline Dahlgreen of Tiffany & Co, Fordham MBA ’14. Sarah Elkes, of BlackRock, Elizabeth Wintle, of Siris Capital and Rina G. Patel, of The Thinkers Global, took the stage and discussed the difference between what they thought they knew at the beginning of their careers versus what they actually know now. 

As young women in business out of college, some noted that a linear path was initially extremely important to them. They looked to their superiors for confirmation that they were doing what they were “supposed” to do, and achieving what was standard for those in their positions and business to accomplish. But each panelist stated that, as they gained confidence in their field and learned how to chart their own career paths, they became more aware about what they could achieve.

An important question posed to them was, when is the right time to expect a promotion? The panelists advised audience members that though there may not always be a definite moment when a promotion feels needed, if those around you are advancing, a self-check is in order to see if you are ready for one as well. And if you are ready – creating an open dialogue with your manager and confirming that you are on the same page is key to taking that next step on your career path. Be an advocate for yourself. 

Being a Facilitator

Later on, at Achievements in Innovation, a panel hosted by Kostapanos Miliaressis of ethelon, Fordham MBA ‘21, similar sentiments rang true. Cloe Shasha, of TED, Genevieve Brennan, of Google, Katie Sharp, of Spotify, and Nyasha Foy, of Complex Media, spoke about choosing their careers based on what made them feel most fulfilled and gave each of them the best opportunity to apply themselves. 

In recognizing what was best for them, each said they felt motivated to support others in forging their career paths. Panelists noted that working with diversity groups, creating inclusive job descriptions, getting to know peers outside of a workplace environment, and protecting themselves and others from burn out is important. Because even when a product or project survives, if the people are burned out in the end – was it really a success? 

Promoting thought diversity was an important point that the panelists made throughout the course of the afternoon. Making sure that everyone involved on a project or within a team thinks differently, is just as important as having people with different backgrounds around the same table. Helping to add a seat at the table for others is just as important for making sure a seat is there for yourself. Be a facilitator for those who hope to be where you once were. 

Nyasha Foy, of Complex Media, concluded the evening panel by stating: “The biggest challenge or obstacle for me is risk.” Through offering advice and counsel to her peers, Nyasha noted that her teams are always prepared for whatever outcome, because if you never try new ideas, you never know how much you can achieve.

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