Technology Takes the Stage at the Annual Women of Isenberg Conference
March 31, 2020
There has never been more data within our grasp, observed Isenberg OIM graduate Kaila Kennedy ’12 on a panel at the Women of Isenberg Conference. The senior program manager with Amazon in Boston added that learning to mine all that data is critical: “You need to make a story out of it that’s informed by business analysis. Always keep recommendations for your leaders in your back pocket.” The Isenberg graduate was a discussant in “Beyond Data: The Backbone of Innovation and Decision Making” at the annual student-organized conference on February 22.
Now in its seventh year, the daylong Women of Isenberg Conference offered ten panels that explored leadership, entrepreneurship, technology issues, and other topics. The event also featured workshops devoted to workplace bias and obstacles to confidence, among other issues. It offered networking opportunities and inspiring keynote remarks from Isenberg Dean Anne Massey, who revisited her career as a technologist. By bringing about 400 students, alumni, and faculty together, the conference fulfilled its mission of creating “a support network and community of empowerment for collegiate women in business.”
“It’s all about enriching your database to make better business decisions,” noted another Beyond Data panelist, Lindsay Milne ’06. An Isenberg sport management graduate, Milne is vice president of marketing with Legacy Global Sports, a Boston-based firm that focuses on youth athletics. Data-driven CRM (customer relationship management) systems are indispensable, Milne emphasized, but consumer privacy and media-effective consumer feedback have become critical concerns. “As a data specialist and a woman, you have to overcome your fear in making unwanted recommendations. You have to be agnostic,” she insisted.
“The role of data analyst has become far more prescriptive,” agreed Lauren Bahn ’13, a marketing graduate who is a manager and educator with Oracle-NetSuite’s Solution Consulting Academy Program, during the discussion. “Making recommendations is essential,” she added, though she admits that doing so can occasionally feel uncomfortable when dealing with a client company that doesn’t employ many women.
No Longer the Only Woman in the Room
Being the only woman in the room is a familiar scenario for the day’s keynote speaker—Isenberg’s dean, Anne Massey. With degrees in industrial engineering and decision sciences, Massey often found herself studying and working among mostly men as a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and in roles at IBM and the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, as well as during her career as a college and university professor and administrator.
“Life is about taking risks, making choices, testing things,” Massey told the gathering. One of her proudest achievements to date is her role as cofounder of the Center of Excellence for Women & Technology during her two-decade career at Indiana University. Today, that center is a resource for 400 women faculty members and 2,200 students.
As the first woman to serve as dean of Isenberg, Massey told the crowd that she’s pleased to be breaking new ground, especially because only 18 percent of AACSB business school deans are women. “But 75 percent of UMass Amherst’s deans are,” she exulted. “They are my go-to people! That is revolutionary!”