Devyn Forcina ’22
On November 2, over 250 women attended the 14th Annual Conference for Women in Business in Hogan Ballroom. Over the past fourteen years, the Women in Business community has grown and continues to welcome back alumnae each November.
At the registration desk, attendees were conscious of the graduation years on the nametags: alumnae spanning forty years returned to the hill for this conference. The ballroom brimmed with contagious energy and a sense of empowerment in the conference’s early moments. Conversations between former and current students about experiences at Holy Cross became hushed as Dean Freije introduced the highly anticipated keynote speaker, Maggie O’Neill, a member of the Class of 1999.
Ms. O’Neill was a political science major when she attended Holy Cross. Political science is not her only passion, for she is also a gifted artist. Believing in art’s power to make a social impact, Maggie has channeled her creativity, talent, and leadership to create her own businesses.
Today, she is the Co-Founder and Cheif Creative Officer of SWATCHROOM, a design, art, and fabrication firm. Her work through SWATCHROOM has enabled commercial establishments to transform into jaw-dropping and tangible experiences. She is also the founder of SUPERFIERCE, a traveling art exhibition that features works by female artists and that mentors up-and-coming ones.
She has also received many accolades for her personal artwork, businesses, and charity. Her Keynote, however, also focused on the obstacles she had to overcome as she established herself in business. Her story was engaging and inspirational, and the end of her speech was received with applause and many words of praise during the Q&A.
After the Keynote, Kim Miles, Founder and CEO of Miles in Heels Productions, LLC facilitated an ice-breaker that allowed students and alumnae to begin networking. Kim’s equally vivacious personality and curriculum, “Getting Past Hello!”, encouraged all conference attendees to engage in conversation and to get to know each other. Seated by industry, alumnae gave advice to students who were interested in similar careers.
Women shared stories about interviews and networking, as well as their experiences of working in fields sometimes dominated by men. This session caused discussions to flow and relationships to form. Later in the day, breakout sessions enabled conference attendees to develop more specific skills. Multiple sessions were offered by panels of alumnae in diverse fields; these sessions included Design Thinking, Culture Fit, Polishing Your Personal Brand, and Launching Your Career.
After attending these sessions, students had the chance to network with alumnae using the new skills they learned about before the conference came to a close. Congratulations to the Conference Organizers and Sponsors on a very successful event!
The Women in Business community offers opportunities beyond this annual conference. A new student-run Women in Business Club meets weekly and continues to help students learn the language of business and explore opportunities. Be sure to mark your calendars for the 15th Annual Women in Business Conference on November 7, 2020.