Postcard from the Katz Executive Women's Panel

On Thursday, March 21, I attended the Katz Executive Women’s Panel, presented by the Katz Alumnae Council and MBA Women International. The panel consisted of three female alumnae from the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business MBA Program: Angela Hardy Isaac, Professor of Finance and Economics, MBA Program School of Business at Point Park University; Jackie Johnson, Founder and CEO of Corazon, Inc.; and Kelley Skoloda, Partner and Director of the Global Brand Marketing Practice at Ketchum. The moderator was Audrey Murrell, Associate Professor of Business Administration, Psychology and Public International Affairs at the Katz School of Business.

The gender gap has not necessarily been stressed to my generation; as a female, I had never worried that my success, growth or promotion potential would be stifled because of my gender. This panel consisted of women with years of experience, who have faced challenges on their respective roads to success. I expected the panel to be in a fairly set Q&A form and to learn how they became successful women in business. Instead, I learned the subtle differences in being a female that could benefit my career. Below are a few of the most prominent takeaway points that I heard from the panel:

  • A job or career (for a female or a male) is not always a straight path. At a young age, you assume that you start at the bottom and work your way up gradually as you prove yourself to be a reliable and integral part of a team. The panel and moderator illustrated a future career path in the form of a labyrinth. It’s possible to start in one field, be promoted, then completely change your mind and start at the bottom in a new field, and progress quickly. We were told not to always expect a straight shot, and that it’s okay to change your mind in your career path.
  • Dr. Murrell, the moderator, asked the panel to discuss some of their failures and tell the audience how they moved past those failures. Ms. Johnson answered with, “Failures, what failures? I don’t have any of those.” She then continued to explain that she no longer views her “failures” as a failure, simply a learning experience. If she were to go back in time, she isn’t sure if she would make some of the decisions that she did, but all in all, they made her the person she is today.
  • Be as calm as possible in every situation, especially as a manager or leader of a team. Employees will have an easier time confronting you with issues if you stay calm (even if you are furious on the inside).
  • In many instances, women are naturally more empathetic than men. Each of the panelists outlined situations when someone was able to confide in them as a boss over others due to their listening skills and empathy.

As a 23-year old entry-level professional, it was valuable for me to hear each of these women describe their experiences in the business world, and learn what has impacted them the most. I hope to attend future panels that include both women and men, and also professionals newer to the workforce.

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