Yesterday I had the privilege of attending the Women in the World Summit, which was presented by my former employer, Newsweek Daily Beast. The experience is unlike anything that I can put into words. At the Summit, moderators who include people like Hillary Clinton, Diane Von Furstenberg, Angela Jolie, Barbara Walters, Meryl Streep, and more, help women from countries near and far testify to some of the atrocities they have experienced or witnessed in their lives. Atrocities that I could never imagine – honor killings and beatings, genital mutilation, rape, not being allowed to work or leave the home, being denied education, and the list goes on. A former Stern part-time student/former coworker of mine provided tickets for myself and another classmate. Knowing my interest in women’s issues, he was happy to extend the invitation to the Summit. Much like Stern, this gathering is a transformative experience. It brings perspective to my MBA as I stress over a quiz that is worth 10% of my grade in one course. Moreover, to see a media company create such a forum for women’s issues reminds me that corporate America can participate in meaningful corporate social responsibility (CSR) beyond the purpose of branding or the bottom line.
My friend who accompanied me has a particular interest in CSR, whereas I am simply a person who was inspired by the conference last year and as a woman, finds these issues fascinating and engaging. As I sat at the conference this year, I found that I was looking at it through a different lens since attending Stern. I thought about the ways that pressure could be placed upon companies to improve not only women’s rights, but also human rights. I considered some of the management techniques we have discussed in my Leadership in Organizations (LiO) course that could be applicable to some of the organizations represented at the Summit. I further considered the role that celebrity played in branding the conference and how it was leveraged for good rather than to simply sell tickets to an event. I considered the way that macroeconomic conditions colored the lives of many of the women presenters and how the decisions made in the US could have far reaching effects that often go unseen globally. These are all things that hardly crossed my mind last year when I was simply awestruck by the conference.
Again, I was thrilled to share this experience with fellow Sternies. In fact, next I might suggest partnering with Stern Women in Business to have a greater presence at the conference. I feel that Women in the World presents a great fusion of EQ and IQ. You can check it out for yourself here.
Since I last posted, a lot has happened. It has been an incredible week. Last Friday was the Stern Women in Business Conference. We heard from some amazing women who were quite open with the audience about balancing a high-powered career and a family. I found their candor refreshing. It was great to hear some of their anecdotes regarding childcare and learning to adapt after having kids. I attended a panel about creative innovation and the ways that women can create leadership opportunities for themselves. It was inspiring to listen to women with a range of backgrounds from finance to marketing to fashion. It was also interesting to hear about the risks these women had taken to advance their careers and how they learned to be more vocal about their career advancements and getting raises. The conference certainly gave me a lot to think about for the future.
From the conference, I made my way to Gilt Groupe where I will be working on a consulting project for the newly launched Gilt City. Again, I found myself inspired by the company’s energy and passion for what they do. I am excited to see how I will leverage my digital background for the first time since starting business school. Moreover, it is the first opportunity I will have to combine my prior work experience with my strong interest in e-commerce. In fact, I will likely pursue a career in luxury and retail, if all goes according to plan.
This brings me to another reason why I’ve had a great week. On Tuesday, I attended my first fashion show as part of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. It came about when I contacted a former coworker and fellow Sternie regarding any industry connections he may have. He generously offered me his seat at the show to aid my networking. I was amazed with his selflessness, which truly speaks to the Stern spirit and community. Additionally, I have had three other alumni offer their time to discuss their experiences at various fashion and retail firms. For some reason, their willingness to meet in person or talk over the phone never ceases to amaze me. I think this week especially, I am reminded why my decision to attend Stern is one of the best I’ve made.
It’s the start of my second semester and it’s hard to believe I’m back after a roughly six week hiatus. I enjoyed the long break and the opportunity to travel and reflect on my first semester. At the same time, I’m excited for what’s to come during this week alone. This Friday is the Stern Women in Business Conference. I attended this conference last year when I interviewed and it was a turning point for me in the decision process. I met so many bright, friendly, and enthusiastic women, I was convinced that Stern was the place for me. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store!
In addition, I will begin my Stern Consulting Corps project. This semester, I will be working with the Langone Medical Center on a project about integrated healthcare. As someone who works on an annual health and wellness fair in Harlem, NY and has a chronically ill parent, this opportunity resonated with me on a personal level. I am also excited because healthcare has always been an interest of mine, but I don’t necessarily see myself working in the industry (subject to change). This gives me a way to experience an industry which I might otherwise have never gained exposure to. I’m looking forward to the possibility of helping people through this opportunity. I will be sure to report back on my experiences.
Lastly, I’m thrilled to be taking my first elective this semester – foundations of entrepreneurship! I took one class in undergrad where I was required to write a business plan. Since then, I have always been interested in the possibility of starting my own business. I have some ideas in the retail space that I plan to explore. I’m hopeful that this class will give me a good starting place to put my thoughts into action. Stay tuned for an exciting semester!