On Saturday, November 11, the Ciocca Office of Entrepreneurial Studies and Prebusiness Program hosted the 12th annual Holy Cross Women in Business conference. The conference was sponsored by PepsiCo, GE, Eaton Vance, and Deloitte and planned by a committee of student organizers including Sarah Anderson ‘20, Kate Beckerman ‘20, Casey Carty ‘18, Rosangel Cruz Cabrera ‘18, Mary McGregor ‘19, Clare O’Leary ‘19, and Delaney Wells ‘20.
The conference, which is free of charge and open to students and alumnae, was held in the Hogan Ballroom and drew over 250 participants. This year’s theme was “Proactively Pursuing Possibilities: Opening the Doors to Success.”
The day began with coffee and a keynote interview with Deirdre Latour ‘95, VP, Senior Advisor and Chief Communications Officer at GE, moderated by the College’s Provost and Dean Margaret Freije. At GE, Latour is responsible for advising the CEO and leadership team on strategy, leading the company’s communications strategy globally, and helping to shape the company’s culture. She and Provost Freije spoke about her transition from campus to career, her experience as a woman in the workforce, and how her Holy Cross education helped her advance in her career.
Latour knows what is is like to be the only woman in a boardroom full of men. She advised conference attendees to persist and be stubborn and to not be afraid to speak up and participate. She said that what she has learned from her own experience is that men will almost always speak or present an idea in a meeting, but women will only speak in a meeting if they are sure they have something of value to say. According to Latour, if a woman does not speak, it can be perceived that she does not need to be at that meeting. Lastly, Latour reminded the women in the room that one woman’s “win,” such as getting a job or a promotion, is not another woman’s “loss.” Progress for one woman leads to progress for all women in the business world.
“The conference is an excellent way for women at Holy Cross to understand how their education can translate into success in the business world,” said Latour. “Students don’t realize that literally everything you learn in college you will take with you throughout your career. If you have that context while you are still at Holy Cross, you will approach everything about your college experience differently. The conference is also a great reminder of the power of the Holy Cross network. We can all learn from each other and support each other.”
Following the keynote interview, participants were divided into eight groups based on their industries: Accounting, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Real Estate, Non-Profit, Communications & Advertising, Media & Entertainment, and Marketing & Sales. The groups completed an icebreaker exercise lead by Kim Miles, founder and CEO of Miles in Heels Productions. During the icebreakers, attendees swapped stories and techniques about interviewing and networking.
After a networking lunch, the conference divided into six different alumnae panels in two rotations. Participants could attend panels such as “Opportunity Knocks: Opening the Door to Mentorship,” “From Cool Beans to Corporate,” “Now Trending: Stay Communication Savvy,” “Launching Your Career,” “The Power of Your Purse: Making Your Money Work for You,” and “Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Rising Fields for Women.” All of the panels were lead by a variety of accomplished alumnae who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields.
Julia Doyle ‘20 attended the conference for the first time this year. “It was an inspiring experience that taught me how to carry myself in a professional manner,” she said. “It has made me excited to become a woman in the workforce.”