Monday, October 11, 2010

Women In Business

For the women at Kelley (and men too, if they want to be involved), the National Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA) is our national affiliation. We have a student chapter, and participation in this group has been a highlight of my MBA experience. Recently I returned from the annual NAWMBA Conference in Louisville, KY, and I have a few reflections that I would like to share:

Connections and community – Through NAWMBA, I have built relationships with MBA students and professionals from all over the country. These relationships go beyond simple networking or connections to a next job. I have become a part of a community, one that is growing and gaining momentum. One of my most memorable conversations from the weekend was with Jessica Berger, NAWMBA National Student Director. She gave me some great advice on a few things, and when I thanked her for the insights, she simply responded with, “Jen, you don’t need to thank me. That is why we are here.” Yes, NAWMBA is indeed a strong community and one that I am so proud to be a part of. Navigating the MBA life and figuring out a career path can be a bit daunting, but I know there is an amazing support system just a call or an email away.

Exposure to inspirational business leaders - The quality of speakers that NAWMBA brings to its events is incredible. I've never left a session disappointed (and I've been to quite a few now). This year, we got to hear from Lynn Tilton, and in 6" stilettos and “liberal” dress, she may challenge everything you think Corporate America should look like, but, wow, can this woman deliver! A banquet room packed full of students and professionals was dead silent as she spoke...everyone was hanging onto every word. And here is one of my favorite points - the further away you get from your passion and natural talents, the greater decrease you will see in your chance for success - in essence, stay true to yourself…a simple message that is too easily forgotten.

Opportunities to give back – Embodying the spirit of women empowering women, NAWMBA has found a meaningful way to reach an underserved population. Through the Shideezhi Project, approximately 30 MBA students from around the country mentor high school girls living on the Navajo Reservation. And the value of this new initiative has not gone unnoticed. At the conference, Sam’s Club/Walmart awarded scholarships to 5 mentors to pay for program-related travel costs, including a trip to the Reservation. The energy around this program and the support we received was incredible!

While my involvement in this group has certainly made my already hectic life a little busier, the professional and personal growth, the fun, and the new friendships are well worth the few missed hours of sleep!

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