WBC Pieces — text only

Women in Marketing Brunch

Sharing Lessons on Career and Life

By Steph Kong, WBC Communications Director

On Sunday, January 10th, approximately 60 Anderson women (and one brave male!) attended the Women in Marketing Brunch, co-sponsored by the Women’s Business Connection and Marketing Association.  As with many marketing events, students came away with vital industry and company information and contacts for use during recruiting season. However, many attendees felt that the greater lessons shared by the panelists and company representatives focused on long-lasting balance, success and happiness in life.

Attendees first had the opportunity to brunch with representatives in marketing positions from a variety of industries. Participating companies included: Activision, Brand Sense Partners, CA Botana, FIJI Water, Kashi,  Mattel, Medtronic Diabetes and Nestle. Senior marketing managers were then invited to a panel discussion led by event Directors Irene Balotro (MBA ’11) and Nadine Katkhouda (MBA ’11).

Panelists offered a mixture of insightful advice, both professional and personal. For Erin Bradford (MBA ’11), the no-nonsense, strategic advice was most memorable. “I think one of the most eloquent pieces of advice came from Cathleen Caruso (Nestlé), when she was talking about changing your style to match the person you’re talking to. That goes a long way toward gaining you the respect you want on the job.”

Thuy-Anh Nguyen (FEMBA ’09) appreciated the seemingly unconventional advice such as embrace your weaknesses, treat everyone you meet the same regardless of title or nominal influence, and never be afraid to not be the smartest person in the room.

For others still, the biggest takeaways were those simple in nature but profound in impact. “The most important thing I gained from the panel discussion was ‘know what you truly love to do,’” said Belen Arellano (MBA ’11). “This reflects that you know yourself and is an attractive quality in a candidate.”

Congratulations to event organizers Irene, Nadine and Christina Peng (MBA ’10) on a successful event and big thanks to participating companies and company representatives.

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Women in Entrepreneurship Brunch

Encouraging the next generation of women entrepreneurs

By Steph Kong, WBC Communications Director

On Sunday, February 7th, the Women’s Business Connection and Entrepreneur Association presented the second annual Women in Entrepreneurship Brunch, connecting Anderson students with successful entrepreneurs to discuss the challenges and opportunities in creating more women-owned businesses.

The panel discussion, moderated by Professor Mary Yeager, started with the difficulties faced by women entrepreneurs. Monica Dodi, a new media pioneer now focused on establishing The Women’s Venture Fund, a venture capital organization for female-driven businesses, shared the startling fact that only 4% of venture capital is allocated to female business founders.  Dr. Barbara Mark, founder and CEO of Full Circle Institute, echoed this sentiment, stating that the dearth of female-owned business is “not a lack of desire, but rather a lack of funding.”

Despite the challenges inherent to the entrepreneurial world, the conversation quickly turned to the immense opportunities available to smart, driven women and strategies for success. After commenting on the current difficulties faced by female entrepreneurs, Mark quickly addressed the potential that she sees in today’s ambitious entrepreneurs. To the students in the room, she stated, “Women like you will be making history and I look forward to applauding you for that.”

The panelists enumerated the many strengths that women possess that make them natural entrepreneurs. Mark pointed out that women typically have the ability to listen—a business asset that enables entrepreneurs to better understand their employees, customers and mentors that may help guide their efforts. Dean Olian highlighted women’s willingness to ask for advice as a strong point; in fact, many panelists commented on the need to identify one’s strengths and choose the right people—business partners, VC funders, and employees—to fill in the gaps as a major key to success.

Mark pointed out that stereotypes and gender biases exist and that what is important is focusing on one’s responses to them. She advised, “Know your strengths. Speak to them with clarity, confidence and with grace. Know what you bring to the table.” Mark also very powerfully addressed the gender imbalance that exists in the business world. On men being in the business driver’s seat, she stated, that while this is “historical fact, it is not a template for the future.”

Dean Olian finished the panel portion of the afternoon by listing the many resources available to Anderson entrepreneurs such as the Price Center and various opportunities to be involved in immersive and experiential activities. She advised that future entrepreneurs must learn how to fail in order to develop the skills that will be necessary to sustain later efforts.

Big thanks to moderator Mary Yeager, panelists Monica Dodi, Lynda Keeler, Barbara Mark and Sharon Olexy, Round Table Hosts Sandy Abrams, Beth Bailey, Mayura Kona and Alison Paige and closing speaker Dean Olian. And thanks and congratulations to event co-directors Audrey Anhood, Joanna Schochet and Carolyn Steinmetz for their hard work in putting together this insightful event.

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Women in High Tech Brunch

Tips For Women Tackling the Tech World

By Steph Kong, WBC Communications Director

The Women in High Tech Brunch, held on Sunday, January 24th at the Hotel Palomar, was an opportunity to share stories on surviving, indeed thriving, in the male-dominated tech world. The event, co-sponsored by the Women’s Business Connection, High Tech Business Association and Easton Technology Leadership Program, featured speakers from companies including Akamai, Cisco, DirectTV, eBay and Google.

Moderators Lauren Berger and Mollie Vandor, both online entrepreneurs and volunteers with Girls in Tech, led the discussion which covered topics such as work-life balance, challenges specific to the tech industry and the benefits or influences on one’s career of business school experiences.

Many of the panelists insisted that while the majority of the tech world tends to be male, it is actually an industry where gender is not as important as ability. According to Nicole Peill-Moelter, Director of Environmental Sustainability at Akamai, “They don’t care if you’re a woman as long as you can do the job.”

Jennifer Boicic, Systems Engineer at Cisco, advised attendees to not feel intimidated if they found themselves the only woman in the room. “It’s all in your mind. If you don’t make it a factor, it won’t be.”Instead, Boicic said, women should view this as a benefit and a distinctive feature that will help them stand out.

Ivka Adam, a manager at eBay, stressed the importance of finding female role models because they will “pull you up and be your advocate.” However, most panelists agreed that in addition to seeking female mentors, women should seek out male role models and mentors from a variety of backgrounds in order to gain wider perspective.

The discussion concluded on a spirit of empowerment, with panelists telling attendees that they should be clear regarding their expectations of a job and to be proactive in asking for what they want. Sandy Roth, Director of Research at DirectTV, echoed this sentiment, advocating, “Find the environment that will support you. Find people that will help push you through the upward wave to success.”

Thank you to panelists as well as event co-directors, Annette Blum, Avani Parakh, Gloria Lee, Christina Sun and Joanna Keh Shing, for making this brunch such a success.

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UCLA Anderson Hosts Kick Conference

Inspiring entrepreneurship in women leaders

By Steph Kong, WBC Communications Director

On Friday, January 22, UCLA Anderson hosted the Kick (Knapp Innovation, Creativity & Knowledge)Conference For Women, bringing together female business leaders and students to share inspirational stories about accomplishing one’s goals. While panelists ranged from female executives to entrepreneurs to media and sports figures, many echoed similar experiences in their climbs to success: adversity and negativity in their environment requiring courage and persistence in their decisions and actions.

Many ideas and anecdotes were shared during the six-hour conference; however, themes quickly emerged within many of the speakers’ stories.

1) Don’t be afraid to do the wrong thing at the wrong time

During the opening session, Dean Olian asked Barbara Desoer why she took on the role of President of Bank of America Home Loans & Insurance during the recent housing meltdown. Desoer answered that in crisis, she sees great opportunity. From the jobs where there was the biggest challenge and the greatest risk of failure, she learned and contributed the most and experienced the best outcomes.

Barbara Adachi, National Managing Principal of Deloitte LLP, expressed a similar sentiment when she downgraded to a less lucrative career. When frequent travel led her young daughter to ask, “Does mommy live at the airport?”, she realized that her priority in life should be her family and she walked away from a promising career in order to find an employer that allowed her greater flexibility and opportunity to lead a more balanced life.

2) Secure a strong support system

Many of the speakers alluded to a strong network of family, friends, employees and loved ones that helped them in their professional ascent. Tina Aldatz, founder of Foot Petals, was able to conceive of, produce and market a product that now brings in more than $10 million annually—all without a high school or college diploma. While she has struggled to quickly learn the foundations of business that most learn from a formal education, she confided that a strong team is really the key to success. She advised, “Know what you’re good at. Know what you’re not good at. And for [that second part], surround yourself with people that are.”

Ilene Lang expressed a similar idea in how women should consider jobs, specifically as they seek out new opportunities. As President and CEO of Catalyst, an organization that consults on matters pertaining to women and business, Lang offered insight on the problems that face many workplaces and expectations that should be set to facilitate systemic changes. She cautioned female workers to be critical of companies with a small number of women leaders:  “You may have a job at that company but it’s highly doubtful you will have a career.”

3) Failure = opportunity

With creativity and innovation comes the persistent threat of failure. Many of the speakers admitted to failing on many an occasion, but stated that the most is gained and learned from those failures and that you ultimately emerge a better and stronger individual because of them. Ann Meyers Drysdale, basketball legend, General Manager of the Phoenix Mercury and Vice President of the Phoenix Suns (and UCLA alumna), has had many failures in her careers as an NBA player (she is the only female ever to have signed a contract with an NBA team) as well as sports journalist, but said, “What is important is how you pick yourself up that is most telling.” She later succinctly expressed her views on success in life: “Failure isn’t fatal. Success isn’t final. It’s courage that counts.”

4) Take risks and do what you love

A common thread that connects all entrepreneurs is the act of waiving stability in pursuit of a passion. So it’s not surprising that many of the panelists highlighted taking risks and pursuing passions in their entrepreneurial journey.

During the open question period, Samira Izadifar (MBA ’10) asked the panelists their opinions on doing what you want to do versus doing what you should do. Most panelists agreed that in the long run, you will be happier and more successful doing what you want to do.  And panel moderator Alex Cohen, news anchor for KPCC, Southern California Public Radio, pointed out that you should ask yourself, “Why ‘should’?” Meaning, focus on the reason behind a given decision or action and decide whether it’s legitimate motivation for that choice.

On this topic, many panelists had pithy words of advice. Tina Aldatz proclaimed the virtues of impetuosity:  “Just go with it and deal with it later.” Tena Clark, legendary music producer and founder and CEO of DMI Music & Media Solutions, said that you have to pursue your dreams despite internal or external obstacles—like when she joined music mentor Stevie Wonder on a trek from Mississippi to California to start her musical career.  And Candace Nelson espoused this idea when she left a lucrative job in the banking world to bake cupcakes for a living. She is the founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes.

The event was a great success, with many attendees voicing great satisfaction with the experience. A big thank you to event sponsors, speakers, coordinators and volunteers. And congratulations to Ilene Lang, whose company, Catalyst, was the winner of the2010 Betsy Wood Knapp Innovator Award.

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