This week is our unofficial “Women’s Week” on The Booth Experience – it’s like “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel…but so much cooler! This week’s blog post is from the CWIB (Chicago Women in Business) Conference, and this week’s (WIWG) Wednesdays in the Winter Garden video reports “live” from the conference as well. Keep reading to get a flavor for the opportunities open to one of Booth’s largest and most active student groups.
Hi Prospective Students (especially the women out there),
Last week, Booth’s Chicago Women in Business Group (CWiB) hosted its annual fall conference. This year’s theme was “Get in the Game” and after engaging with all the speakers, I can attest the 190+ participants were more than eager to ensure we left our mark not just on the corporate world but in every sphere of our lives.
But before I jump into the details of the conference and the impact it had – a brief introduction on me: My name is Nupur Bhargava and I’m a first year student at Booth. I’m originally from India, and moved to Singapore 10 years ago for high school. I graduated with a double degree in Economics and Business from the Singapore Management University in 2007. My career began at UBS’s rotational leadership program during which I did research and strategy. Upon completing the program I spent two years doing Marketing and Business Development work for UBS’s private wealth management business in Asia-Pacific. With an undergraduate degree in business, the flexible curriculum and extremely welcoming and close-knit student body were the main reasons I chose to come to Booth. In the last two months, the second years have often gone out of their way to give us career advice and help us with our resumes, and have even offered to put us in touch with their own personal networks. They’ve also been busy organizing the various industry conferences, which provide additional avenues for us to network with and gain exposure to our desired future careers.
Following CWiB’s first social and fundraising events I was quite excited about the Fall Conference. A few weeks before the conference started, we needed to register for the sessions that we wanted to participate in. After much internal debate (all the options seemed extremely insightful) I decided to attend – “Professional Networking: The Art of Small Talk” and “Negotiations: Discussions with Results”.
The afternoon kicked off at the University Club of Chicago with a splendid lunch and networking session with many industry women and Booth alumni. Ava D. Youngblood, a Booth alumnus and entrepreneur introduced us to the 8P’s of getting in the game – Preparation, Performance, Passion, Perseverance, Positive Visibility, Presence, Predictability and Play. Personally, my biggest takeaway was her statement that the ‘Executive suite is what you define it to be– it can be that C-suite job, being a mother or being an entrepreneur’. As we start business school and embark on the journey of defining our careers, her words struck home. A big part of business school is identifying and defining what you want out of your career and personal life, and understanding what you value the most.
Following the opening keynote address we all broke into our individual panels. My first one on the “Art of Small Talk” was led by P.J. McGuire who provides similar training to various Fortune 500 firms. Her advice on initiating conversations and building relationships with people you meet for the first time was extremely useful. As we shift gears into recruiting season and begin networking with firms all that she shared will be put into good use. My second panel was on “Negotiating for Results.” Our panel included senior leaders at banks and consulting firms. They all shared personal anecdotes of negotiations that had gone well, giving advice on what they thought proved effective. Some of them also told us about when negotiations had gone south and what they learned from the experience. It was comforting to realize that I was not alone in my inexperience negotiating, especially on sensitive topics such as compensation.
To wrap up an eventful day, our final keynote speech was made by Gail Evans. A former CNN Executive VP, Gail encouraged us to help each other and make each other powerful. One of the biggest strengths of a school like Booth is the phenomenal people that you meet and the friendships and networks that you build. Gail reminded us that power is all about getting things done and you as an individual define who you are and what power you have. She stressed the importance of using powerful language to define and differentiate yourself - not just at the workplace but in everyday life.
Charged by her rhetoric and vivacity we adjourned into a formal networking session with numerous senior business leaders and industry experts. It was a fantastic way to close the day over drinks networking with these women, many of whom are Booth alumni and now leaders in the industries we want to transition into. It was amazing to see the huge alumni turnout that CWiB was able to generate and I look forward to many more Booth conferences over the next two years.