On Friday, October 10, close to 400 women congregated in Downtown Chicago at the University of Chicago Gleacher Center for the 4th Annual Booth Women Connect Conference (BWCC) - a spectacular day of learning, networking, discovery, and a celebration of the strong and supportive network of women within Booth, along with their stories and experiences.
The day-long conference, planned by a committee of Booth women gave prospective students the opportunity to connect with alumnae and current students, experience Booth faculty in the classroom, and hear the stories of successful alumnae passionate about fostering Booth’s “pay it forward” culture. Attendees walked away from the day having challenged existing notions, uncovered new perspectives, and formed lasting connections within the Booth community. You can see more photos of the day.
Sessions examined topics like managing for the first time, integration of a healthy work and life balance, and seeking opportunities to make an impact beyond your immediate line of work. Speakers discussed stereotypes and challenges that exist for women in the workplace and how we can continue to influence the change that we wish to realize.
Waverly Deutsch, clinical professor of entrepreneurship, lead a session on “Women and Entrepreneurship,” a look at the motivations, choices, and realities of women who choose the entrepreneurial path. Deutsch cleverly provoked guests by challenging an article that attested that women are now getting their spotlight in entrepreneurship. She provided formidable evidence to contend that women have been successful entrepreneurs for a while now and emphasized practical considerations to further success. Deutsch urged guests to “Think BIG. We’ve got to think differently. We’ve got to dream differently.”
Waverly also served as one of three “sharks” in a later session that simulated a popular television program where budding entrepreneurs compete for venture capital funds. The “sharks” also made a point to share what happens in real life.
During “Inside the Chicago Booth Shark Tank,” presented by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, two current student entrepreneurs, Katlin Smith, Founder and CEO of Simple Mills, and Aparna Misra, co-founder and CEO of Highstride, reenacted what they likely encountered during their experience in the 2014 New Venture Challenge. Both student entrepreneurs demonstrated the experience to be in front of venture capitalists, presenting their business plans confidently and thoughtfully, while remaining poised when grilled by the "sharks."
The keynote speaker this year was Jan Doty, retired Co-CEO of Goldman Sachs. In her session, titled “A Woman's Perspective on a Wall Street Career: Leadership and Networking in a Male-Dominated Industry,” Doty focused on the importance of leadership and how she found success over the past quarter-century, during a time of fast-evolving global equity markets. A career she says she owes to her experience at Booth.
Reflecting on her role in the company and her professional achievements, Doty noted that the key was assembling the right team and being an example for the members of that team. You can read more about her session in the next Booth Women Connect e-Newsletter. You can sign up here to receive it, if you haven’t already.