Business Women of Smith College Club Aims to Promote Future Industry Leaders
Published: Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 22:02
Smith prides itself on its elite liberal arts education, but it can soon expect to see a new business-focused student-run organization emerge. If it gets chartered, Business Women of Smith College (BWSC) will emphasize providing Smith women with the resources to enter the business world.
The club was founded by Jessie Daubner '12, who now serves as the club president.
"I recognized the need for an organization on campus that would address the pre-professional needs of the next generation of problem-solvers, generally speaking, the future entrepreneurs and consultants of the world," said Daubner.
In spite of a fairly recent start, BWSC has already planned several events for the current semester. Immediately on the horizon is a club trip to the 21st Annual Dynamic Women in Business Conference hosted by Harvard University.
"The conference brings together over 1,000 women to discuss the opportunities and challenges that women face in the business world today. It is an incredible event that offers students the opportunity to network, learn about a plethora of industries and better understand gender roles in the workplace," said Daubner.
Keynote speakers include senior personnel from New York Road Runners, Google, Americas and Frito-Lay North America.
BWSC aims to encourage Smith women to envision themselves as future business leaders. The club hopes to do this by organizing a trip to a business school and connecting students with women who have completed MBAs and those who hold or are on track to hold senior positions in corporations. Daubner believes that early exposure to the business world is crucial for bringing more women into business.
"Women are underrepresented in business, especially in upper-level management positions. In order to reverse this trend, we need to put women on the trajectory to become CEOs and board members now; Smith students must be able to envision themselves in those roles, and meeting women in those positions or already on that path certainly facilitates that," Daubner said.
Members of BWSC may also participate in case study contests that provide a platform for analysis of real-world business issues. The club currently has two teams participating in a financial case study competition by BNP Paribas S.A., a French bank.
In addition, the club promotes the development of entrepreneurial skill sets in its members. Daubner hopes to send members to events such as the IdeaLab: The Sustainability University, which is a series of workshops that helps students develop the confidence and skills to become entrepreneurs and facilitates the understanding of product design, market validation and general business development. The National Collegiate Inventors & Innovators Alliance is partnering with the UMass, Amherst to host this series.
Despite its novelty, BWSC is not the first business club to open on campus, nor is it the only such club. Smith used to have a business club, but its tenure ended when its then-president graduated, according to Thealexa Becker '13, Vice President of BWSC. Daubner, however, does not believe that BWSC will suffer the same fate as the previous business club.
"To me, the reason why most clubs struggle with attendance is because students don't feel that the experience adds value to their lives, so the time commitment isn't worth it and people stop coming. Business Women of Smith will be a hands-on organization that gives students many opportunities to improve their skill set," Daubner said.
The club shares some similarities with another organization on campus. The Smith College Investment Club, launched in 2002, gives Smith students the opportunity for hands-on experience with investing and managing a $100,000 endowment. The club has approximately 30 members.
Investment Club offers similar resources, such as networking opportunities for its club members. Each spring, the club organizes a trip to New York City to visit alumnae, many of whom work in the financial services industry. The Investment Club also holds workshops on resume writing.
Daubner and Becker are the current vice president and secretary, respectively, of the Investment Club.
Becker explained that although both clubs are business-oriented, BWSC has a wider reach.
"I think BWSC has the opportunity to reach out to a more diverse cross-section of students than [the] Investment Club. BWSC has goals and programming that is relevant for students that want to work for themselves and for others in the future. The club also tackles women's issues in the professional world, which is relevant to essentially everyone," Becker stated.
Aside from hoping that BWSC will successfully get chartered, Daubner and Becker have long-term goals for the club.
"I would like to see the club flourish for the next ten years and beyond so that women at Smith have all of the resources that they need to take charge of their career path," Daubner said.
"I would hope that BWSC would be seen as an active network for women here at Smith to connect with their peers through relevant programming and events," Becker said.
"It would be fantastic to see camaraderie develop amongst women in different fields and for them to recognize that we all face the same challenges but have the same wealth of opportunities ahead of us."
Business Women of Smith College meets every Friday at 12:15 p.m. in the Center for Women and Financial Independence, under Neilson archway.