On Sunday in Lerner, the Columbia Women’s Business Society put on its annual conference, this year focusing on Success to Significance and how women can break down gender barriers in a variety of fields. Bwog sent Staff Writer Maya Corral to cover this event, where she drank lots of Yerba Mate and learned how to make her professional social media presence known to all potential employers.

While the entire campus is usually asleep at 10 am on a Sunday morning, the Columbia Women’s Business Society gathered undergraduate and graduate students, professionals, and alumni of Columbia for their annual conference, “Success to Significance.” Waking up, getting dressed in professional clothing, and going to an event with people this early in the morning is usually the bane of a college student’s existence. However, it is often necessary, informative, and even fun! Last Sunday, I gathered with over a hundred people to learn more about what it means to be a woman in business, and how to translate women’s success to significance.

Alex Parkhurst, President of the Columbia Women’s Business Society, opened up the conference and welcomed the first Keynote speaker, Janet Foutty, CEO and Chair of Deloitte Consulting. During her address, she discussed embracing authenticity, proceeding consciously, and leading by listening. She noted that the most important abilities one gains from working in business are communication and analytical skills.

A society of business.

Throughout the day, audience members heard from and networked with experts in a variety of fields, including lawyers, consultants, executive directors, and even bakers and parenting bloggers. Attendees also gained exclusive access to a Yerba Mate filled table (including the Enlighten Mint flavor, which is really hard to find for some reason) and goodie bags filled with bath bombs, coupons, and fancy cheese snacks. My favorite part, however, was the diversity of each panel. Women of color and immigrants were represented throughout, and women from all different types of fields had the opportunity to discuss their experiences and provide advice to audience members about their particular sector. The event focused on inclusion, attempting to give all women (and those from other marginalized groups) a level playing field in business and the workplace. The conference and speakers addressed the barriers women face in various fields and celebrated the distinguished women who joined us on campus.

Not only did the speakers and panelists discuss the barriers they face as women in the professional world, but they also talked about social media presence, branding yourself, and career transitions. As a tired first-year who doesn’t know what I want to do with my life (or even the next four years), I appreciated this overview. Everybody at Columbia seems to have their life in order. It’s nice to hear from adults (who have spent decades working) that you don’t necessarily have to know your passion by the time you’re 20.

Lugging yourself out of bed on a Sunday morning, dressed in a full suit (resume and business cards in hand), may seem daunting. However, the Columbia Women’s Business Society was well worth my time, and not just because they had Yerba Mate and Lush bath bombs.


Business in action via Maya Corral