Smith student Philip Peker ’18 writes about the Future Women in Business Conference, held on Nov. 18, 2016, at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.
On Friday, Nov. 18, the Office of Undergraduate Programs and the Smith School Women's Society (SSWS) at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business hosted the fourth annual “Future Women in Business Conference” (FWIB) to introduce female high school students to the opportunities a business education can offer them.
Smith 2010 Alumna Allison Diller, business development manager at Constellation Energy, provided the keynote address. She spoke candidly about the challenges she faced doing business in a male-dominated climate and how these challenges made her a better business professional. Allison’s parting advice to the young women was to be bold, seize their future, and to be confident, knowing how to “play with the boys and the girls.”
Building on the enthusiasm from the keynote, the SSWS executive board members introduced the business case, featuring uBoard, a startup founded by Smith Junior Natalie Urban. uBoard specializes in custom dorm room headboards that the company sells to college students across the U.S. The challenge to the high school “consultants” was to determine how uBoard could increase its sales and expand operations over the next five years. Working in teams, the students examined all aspects of the business – including marketing, supply chain, finance – to make the best recommendation for their client.
For many of the high school girls, this was their first time working through a case and presenting their analysis and recommendations to a panel of judges, but Smith School female mentors helped them through the process.
“I was honored to have been a mentor alongside the young women. Women need to foster a supportive environment for us to truly be leaders, which is what the Future Women in Business Program tries to accomplish,” said Kathleen Curry, executive board member of the Smith School Women’s Society.
CeCe Ukejianya, another Smith School leader, added “Women are just as capable as men to be successful in business. So I try my best to be a good example of that. Whenever I interact with younger women, I can talk from my own experience about ways I've stepped out of my comfort zone to lead, and hope that motivates them to do the same.”
Smith adjunct lecturer and high school faculty member Fred Katz was excited by the experiential learning component of the event that allowed the students to see the value of learning course material in order to apply it. “FWIB is all about the WHY of learning and taking it to the next level by proper analysis (mentored by the Smith Undergraduate women) and recommendations.”
Future Women in Business is much more than simply an opportunity for high school students to visit campus as it gives young women a reason to get excited about business and may be the first step towards a successful career in business. The Smith School could not be prouder to help young women gain the confidence and inspiration needed to take the business world by storm.
For more information about the Future Women in Business Conference, contact Melanie Ashton or visit the Smith School undergraduate website at http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/undergrad