The student-led Women in Business club recently sat down with four Grossman School of Business Board of Advisor members to learn about their career path; journeys full of mentors, leadership insights and unexpected turns.
In pre-Covid times the Grossman School of Business clubs typically take networking trips to Boston or New York City, attend conferences and host alumni guest speakers on campus. This past year, due to travel limitations, social distancing guidelines and restrictions, our students have had to be creative, as the Women in Business club knows how essential it is for this club to exist, and continue to thrive.
“In some upper-level business courses there is a chance you could be the only female in the room, and I know that this could be the case once I enter the finance world” says president of the club and Grossman senior Emma Rainard. Currently the Grossman School of Business gender mix comprises around 60% male and 40% female.
To close out the guest speaker’s series this semester, the club held a virtual Women of the Grossman Board of Advisor panel discussion with members Cyma Zarghami, Carrie W. Teffner, Amy Arnoff Blumkin, and Wendy K. Nunez. Over 30 students attended and learned about the remarkable steps the women have taken to rise to such senior leadership positions. First-year student Marguerite Jouet left the conversation awestruck saying “hearing everyone’s experiences has opened my eyes to what I can do and where I can go with a degree in Business Administration.”
The successful and empowering alumni spoke openly to students, providing details about their diverse backgrounds, giving advice for how to succeed in a male-dominated industry, how to manage expectations, set boundaries and much more. Club president Emma Rainard moderated the panel, and each panelist had the opportunity to answer the following questions.
What is one piece of advice you would give to women in business at our age? When and how did you get involved with the Grossman Board of Advisors? How do you deal with working in a male dominated system? What makes a good leader?
In response to how do you deal with working in a male-dominated system Cyma Zarghami replied by saying “take the emotion out of the conversation.” The other panelists echoed her reaction and Wendy Nunez added “don’t let the imposter syndrome get the best of you, have a voice and show up.”
Carrie Teffner summed it up and provided some competencies for the soon to be young professionals to focus on, “emotional intelligence, persistence and communication skills. Communicate in a way that they can hear you,” she advised. Carrie went on to provide an example of when she traveled for a work conference and the men had separate rooms, but the women had to share. She outlined and demonstrated why this sexist approach should be changed.
Later a Grossman senior asked, what specific advice if any do you have for graduating seniors? Amy Blumkin shared from personal experience to “build relationships, don’t just network, really build relationship. I call this group of peers my personal board of advisors, they help me out of mistakes and into new opportunities. I do the same for them. If you nurture these relationships, they will be beneficial to both of you.”
When first year student Marguerite asks “what makes a good leader?” Wendy Nunez was quick to respond providing some insight into how she provides leadership as Partner and COO of Champlain Investment Partners. “I lift people up, I provide employees with the right resources and believe they can do it, I also make sure it’s a safe environment to fail.” A good motto Wendy likes to live by is ‘take all the blame and none of the credit.’
Cyma, who started as a scheduling clerk at Nickelodeon and rose to become president, recently ended her 28-year tenure there to launch MiMo Studio’s. She realized that by “being a player and a coach at the same time” she has been able to earn more respect and collaboration. As a leader she believes that information is power and advised students to “share as much as you can because it makes people more committed.” She went on to explain that if employees understand what they are working towards (financial goal, KPI, etc.) and they can see the progression toward those benchmarks they feel satisfied and stay motivated.
Before adjourning time together Wendy Nunez asked the students in the club what the women of the Grossman School of Business Board of Advisors could do for them. A question that could have thrown off a group of undergrad students that were there to ask the questions, but one the president and vice-president of the club were prepared to answer. Emma summarized by asking the Board of Advisors to continue the conversation, the relationship. The students emphasized the importance of bringing in resources needed to continue education around equity and equality in the work force, be open to providing mentorship to students and be willing to listen and adjust to new ideas and thought processes.
Emma went on to thank the panel for their time and dedication to the Grossman School of Business. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have the support from our Board of Advisors.
While the challenges of being a woman in business remain, (in 2020 only 37 of Fortune 500 companies have female CEO’s) there are plenty of glass ceilings still to be broken. The Women in Business club helps and supports female students to find their own business career paths. They can help you too. Join them at https://www.flow.page/uvmwib