Road-tested advice for women contemplating financial careers and networking opportunities with their peers and Boston area employers were highlights at Isenberg’s first Women in Finance Luncheon on December 1. Presented by State Street and coordinated by Isenberg’s MBA program and the school’s (undergraduate) Women in Business student group, the event at the UMass Club in downtown Boston attracted 51 students from Isenberg and five other area universities: Boston College, Brandeis, Northeastern, Suffolk, and Worcester Polytech. Attendance at the private plated lunch discussion was 75.
The students gained valuable insights from a panel of three finance industry professionals, who described challenges and shared effective strategies for success in a largely male-dominated profession. Moderated by Isenberg sophomore Mikaela Hensen ’20, the panel featured Jean Callahan, a vice president of university relations and recruitment with State Street; Ellen Goodman ’85, a financial advisor with Prudential, and Lauren Gallagher, a financial services professional with New York Life.
“Drawing on their own experiences in financial services, the panelists discussed nuances of career advancement, including the importance of gaining leverage from corporate mentors,” noted Trista Hevey, Isenberg’s Director of MBA Corporate and Alumni Relations. “They offered pragmatic advice on overcoming career roadblocks and on sharpening skill sets to maximum advantage.”
Before the luncheon, the Isenberg students visited State Street for a walking tour of the trading floor and an inside look at the firm’s practices and culture. Following the panel, the students networked with one another and with corporate representatives from lead sponsors State Street and Liberty Mutual as well as reps from New York Life, Prudential, Fidelity, People’s United Bank, NFP, CAIA Association, MassMutual, and other top organizations.
“The idea for the event emerged last July from conversations with our alumnus, David C. O’Leary ’81 MBA, recalls Hevey. “David, who is retired chief administrative officer with State Street, helped us formulate the idea for the event based on recruitment needs in the finance industry.” To move the luncheon from idea to reality, MBA students Anna Henschel ’18 MBA and Sara Franzman ’19 MBA worked with Hevey, devoting many hours of their MBA fellowships to its gestation. Along the way, the trio and Full-Time MBA director Mike Famighette decided to expand the initiative to include undergraduates and other schools as well. To that end, they enlisted undergraduate Isenberg Women in Business officers Mikaela Hensen and Carly Griffin ’18 in the planning process.
Building on the luncheon’s success, Isenberg plans to cast its Women in Finance Luncheon as an annual event. “Next year, we hope to see even more area schools represented and new industry sponsors around the room,” says Hevey. “To increase discussion for this diversity initiative, our goal is to accommodate up to 200 attendees next fall. WATCH FOR A SAVE THE DATE ANNOUNCEMENT COME SPRING!”