From left, Patricia Feraud '15, Brooke Levine '15, Stephanie Pajak '13, Alexandra Schiffman '15, Haley O’Brien '13 at the Women in Business Conference. Photo by Rob Carlin
By Patricia Feraud ’15, Brooke Levine ’15, Haley O’Brien ’13, Stephanie Pajak ’13 and Alexandra Schiffmann ’15
More than 150 alumnae and students celebrated “Women on the Hill: Forty Years of Progress” during the seventh annual Women in Business Conference held on campus Oct. 20. The respect and admiration among alumnae was palpable throughout the day, as they mingled and networked.
In addition to catching up with former classmates, alumnae were also eager to help current students find their own career path. They were generous in offering up advice to aspiring businesswomen. Here are a few key takeaways that we, as student leaders of the conference, gained from the event.
1. The power of being non-defensive — and other indispensable career tips. Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., president of Holy Cross, began the day’s events with powerful and inspiring opening remarks. He spoke of his first boss, a woman, and her admirable trait of being non-defensive — a characteristic which he has strived to carry with him throughout his career. Another trait, the importance of accepting tough, constructive criticism echoed throughout the day. Moira Garvey ’78, principal consultant of Jupiter Consulting Group, conducted a workshop on “Mindful Leadership,” where she stressed the importance of living in the moment and taking into consideration the advice of those around you. Erin Robert ’06, vice president in the Commodity Finance Group of J.P. Morgan, met with students at lunch for resume critiques and to discuss internship opportunities. Additionally, Mary Donahue Quinlan ’76, eastern advertising director of Cosmopolitan Magazine, gave blunt and constructive advice on cover letter writing in her annual “Launching your Career” workshop.
2. Holy Cross has fostered a wonderful support system for women. Forty years ago the first women arrived on campus, obviously a time of great change on the Hill. The Women in Business keynote speaker, Jennifer Haskell ’93, partner in the national office of Audit, Deloitte & Touche LLP, talked about the struggle the first women had to endure, and how much progress has been accomplished in the short 20 years from when she was a student at Holy Cross. Haskell shared her story of being a woman on campus and how supportive and open the Holy Cross community was to her. Later during lunch, Ellen Ryder, director of Public Affairs at Holy Cross, gave the alumnae an opportunity to share their story at the oral history table. This year’s conference celebrated 40 years of coeducation at Holy Cross!
3. Define your brand. Define yourself. Mimi Doherty ’02, founder and CEO of Future Steps LLC, which offers career preparation for young adults, spoke to students and alumnae about the importance of defining your “brand” and using it to effectively market yourself in the job search. In her panel titled “Building Your Brand & Networking,” Doherty guided participants to reflect on and make connections between their character attributes, experience and notable achievements in order to construct a clear and focused message. This message, unique to each individual, becomes a powerful tool for informing employers of your interests, strengths and goals. We were so pleased with her panel that she has been asked to return on Nov. 10 for a workshop through the Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies.
4. Holy Cross women in business have an edge against the competition. The value of our liberal arts education makes Holy Cross alumnae extremely proud. As Sarah Daly ’06, Megan Williams ’07 and Nicole Mikelson ’08 highlighted during their panel, “5 Years Out,” the benefit of a liberal arts education is something that Holy Cross students have that sets us apart from competitors in the job search and business world. It teaches us how to stay true to our values, be ethical, utilize our experiences effectively, and, most of all, to think critically when it comes to problem solving. “Business training” can be taught to anyone in any position but our ability to formulate connections, write well and communicate effectively are vital skills that we gain through the Holy Cross experience. Our education is a gift and an invaluable tool that we, as the women of Holy Cross, will utilize for the rest of our lives in any career and any situation.
5. Success in business and networking go hand in hand. Networking was one of the main themes emphasized at this year’s Women in Business Conference, and with good reason. Making connections has become increasingly important to make your presence known in the world of business. In an effort to expand the attendee’s network, seating was randomly assigned and the day started off with an ice breaker, an informal way to reach out and meet new women. New to the conference this year was the implementation of forums. They provided an opportunity for more informal discussions on various topics between the alumni moderators and the attendees, and an opportunity to learn about the personal experiences of former alumnae. The day was brought to a close with an hourlong networking session, giving attendees a final chance to connect and share information.