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GWB VP of Membership and Director of Strategy at Optimum Sports
Molly Cosgrove, Evening MBA
GWB VP of Marketing and Communications and Financial Controller at Burt Lewis Ingredients
Why did you choose to volunteer with GWB?
Ayuko: I LAUNCHed in the Spring 2020 quarter, and was nervous about the switch to being virtual and my ability to build relationships with my classmates in this format. I attended a few virtual events with GWB that first quarter, and really appreciated the opportunities to meet other women in a casual setting. This made an impact early in my MBA journey and formed my support group and the core of my friends. I wanted to give back and continue that mission of ensuring that all Both women have a safe space and can form stronger bonds with other female students.
Molly:I wanted to get involved as much as I could when I started at Booth, especially since I LAUNCHed at the same time as Ayuko right as everything turned virtual. I immediately joined my cohort’s party planning committee to help plan some virtual events, but knew I wanted to do more. I applied to be a part of the GWB board because I knew it would allow me to not only connect with some of the amazing women at Booth myself, but also help other women connect with each other as well.
Michelle:Unlike Ayuko and Molly, I actually had the opportunity of launching in Fall 2019, so I knew what Booth was like pre-pandemic. In those first two quarters where life was normal, I met absolutely phenomenal, amazing, impressive, kind, trustworthy, and loyal GWB members in the community. I wanted to start highlighting the awesome things that GWB members were doing throughout Booth. That's what I've tried to do through my work as chair of membership.
What has been your favorite GWB event?
Molly: We partnered with the Booth Wine Club and had a wine tasting at Lush Wine and Spirits. We enjoyed tasting six different wines either made by women or from women-owned wineries. It was a great bonding experience that really highlighted some amazing women.
Michelle: While we love to have events and showcase careers or alumni conquering the world, our favorite events are community-centered. One of our first in-person events as new co-chairs was yoga in the park last summer. A Booth student who is a yoga instructor led us through the session. We were so excited just to be together and have a chance to connect in real life with people we've been seeing on Zoom for the past 10 months.
Ayuko: When we were able to resume in-person events in the fall, , we did a series of “coffee and tea” events where we hosted get-togethers an hour before class starts at Gleacher. Flying in for one of these events was incredibly special to me, because it was my first in-person GWB event and was also my first time being back at Booth since my admissions interview in 2019.. I had been working with my co-chairs for well over six months at that point, and it was so much fun to finally meet them in person.
What have you done to create and build community virtually?
Michelle: One benefit of being virtual is that we have been able to tap into the larger Chicago Booth network and have more access to alumni and other women leaders within every industry. We held a Women in the Sports Industry panel where we spoke with prominent Booth alumnae Carolyn Braff, ‘13, and Kelly Linstroth, ‘09, as well as Kat Harwood and Rebecca Seesel. A virtual panel is a lot easier and more efficient than an in-person panel. There is some good that has come out of virtual learning.
Molly: We also hosted some virtual coffee and tea events so people could connect with one another while in the virtual setting. For one specifically, we split people into breakout rooms based on their cohort so they could get to know each other better. We also have a GWB Slack channel where people are able to ask questions that are more directed towards women that they might not want to put in the general Booth Slack channel. The channel has been really beneficial in forming a tighter community.
What else are you excited about?
Michelle: Given the restrictions with COVID, we wanted to be cognizant of people staying safe, and following Booth’s guidelines. We started a Member Dinner Series where GWB members could sign up for a small dinner with other Boothie women. This is an opportunity to share conversation in a small and intimate setting. They were both on week nights as well as weekends in order to account for both Weekend MBA and Evening MBA students. We had a great turnout for these dinners and hope to continue them in future quarters!
We had a couple other virtual events this past quarter where we partnered with other Booth clubs. The first was with the Booth Healthcare Club, which was a fireside chat with Aparna Abburi, ‘03, the President of Medicare business at Cigna. Another was a Women in Industry event in which we partnered with the Booth Consulting Club. This included four alumnae who all work in consulting: Becca Leonard, ‘20, Leila Shin, ‘10, Lindsey Lyman, ‘08, and Sarah Horton, ‘18
Ayuko: Celebrating International Women’s Day is one of GWB’s signature events. This year, we are partnering with Kellogg’s Women’s Business Association to host the event at the Midway Club in the Gleacher Center. We wanted to provide an opportunity for these women to network outside of their immediate MBA circles. Instead of having a guest speaker, we asked different women leaders and entrepreneurs within our networks to record video clips of themselves answering questions around this year’s Women’s Day theme: #BreakTheBias. After playing a short clip, the women will have a chance to reflect on the question within smaller groups. We’re excited to have so many different women be a part of this event!
Molly: We partnered with two of Booth’s affinity groups (the Coalition of Minorities in Business and with Booth Pride) for a virtual lunch and learn with Career Services. After attending multiple sessions of the Dean’s Diversity Advisory Committee together, a forum where we are able to have a discussion with the Dean on DE&I, we decided it would be beneficial for us to partner on some events since the students in these groups often face related issues. We have also been discussing a networking mixer with these three groups.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Michelle: As a member of GWB and also a co-chair, I have to gush about how awesome this group is, not just from a career standpoint, but as a support system. It is so great to share successes around jobs, school and grades together, but it is often the smaller interactions with this group that I appreciate the most.