On April 2, 2013, eight Carlow MBA students participated in the networking event “View from the C-Suite: Insights from Women Who Cracked the Glass Ceiling” by MBA Women International – Pittsburgh Chapter. The students enjoyed dinner and intimate conversations with women who have earned a voice in the executive suite, including Karen L. Larrimer, EVP, Chief Marketing Officer, PNC, Donna Sturgess, President, Buyology, Executive in Residence, CMU, and Audrey Russo, President and CEO, Pittsburgh Technology Council.
Key insights shared by these inspirational leaders include (thanks to MBA student LaToya Johnson for this summary):
– “Stay out of the comfort zone”. This helps build confidence.
– Ask for what you want. Don’t assume management will always approach you.
– Set your own boundaries.
– Be efficient and organized. Touch everything once and deal with things in the moment.
– Get involved in things that you are passionate about.
– Learn how to mesh opposites.
– Be present, ask, and demand.
– Best advice “No one can take away your spirit; you can only give it away.”
– Networking is good but you also need friends.
– Leadership has to be diverse.
– Brands that win have emotional connection with their customers.
– There is so much competition in today’s business so you have to know the consumer beyond the spreadsheet.
– Start-ups are hard!! Give it all you got & know what you are good at.
– Do your homework on the company you want to work for. Research the company.
– Know your strengths, weakness, and what you can fall back on.
MBA student Diane Christian reflected on her experience at this event: “I have learned that as women, we sit back and wait to be offered advancement opportunities, yet our male counterparts take the initiative and make their interest known as soon as these opportunities become available. As Karen Larrimer, Chief Marketing Officer for PNC Financial Services Group shared with us, women need to “raise their hands” and not be afraid to take risks, even when we don’t meet every qualification on the job description. Furthermore, the speakers confirmed that no matter what you do, you must have passion and work-life balance to be successful. I had a wonderful time at the event, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to have met and networked with some really powerful and passionate women.”
MBA student Jessica Muldowney also found the event to be extremely valuable both professionally and personally. “Karen Larrimer EVP, Chief Marketing Officer at PNC, gave insight into being a mother even a single mother at one point in her career, and how she was able to move throughout the companies towards her goal. She made it clear that you have to create boundaries between office, responsibilities, family, and yourself to reach your goals. One thing she said about time-management was clear “touch everything once” meaning when you open an email respond right away, don’t let things linger or pile up because it is too difficult to get caught up on everything. Donna Sturgess, President Buyology, was honest about how difficult it was to start a business. But she also was insightful in her experiences working for both a corporation and going into business herself. All the ladies agreed on the fact that as women in the business world you have to ask for what you want. That it will not be handed to you if you don’t ask, even if your managers know you can perform the job and excel in it.”
After participating in the event, Jessica felt pretty confident that she has made the right move by pursuing her MBA at Carlow. “I am very proud to be at Carlow and have the experiences I have had so far at school to compare with the other students that we sat with.”
MBA student Cheryl Sorensen agreed: “we had a great time together and I wish there were more events like this that we can go to and learn from other successful women in business. We were grateful for the opportunity.”
MBA student Meredith Neel also agreed: “I thought the conference was a great networking experience and the speakers gave very empowering advice. It reinforced the idea of going after the job you want and not waiting to be asked to apply. All of the speakers touched on the importance of knowing your company inside and out, understanding the customer, and knowing your competition. Overall, the event was great and I wish we had more experiences like this one!”
MBA student Lea Steadman is glad that “MBAWI has a Pittsburgh chapter.” “I am considering becoming a member in order to attend more events like this one. It was very insightful to hear from women who have “broken through the glass ceiling” and excelled in the business world,” said Lea.
LaToya Johnson encouraged “all MBA students to take advantage of opportunities like this one when they are offered.” LaToya added that “personally I am at the crossroad of making my dreams a reality or sticking to what I already know. Any student who has faced this challenge knows that it is scary and exciting at the same time. For me this event was comparable to being at church and the sermon feeling like it was directed towards you specifically!”
The Carlow MBA Program would like to thank MBAWI for organizing this event, and providing opportunities for Carlow MBA students to participate.