Tuck women connect at conference

by Elise Quinones | 11/15/09 11:00pm

Having a degree in business means that you will never go to a cocktail party and not know what is going on, according to Janet Hanson, the CEO and founder of 85 Broads, a networking organization for women. In the Tuck Women in Business Conference held this past weekend, Hanson told audience members that a business degree offers women the qualifications to enter the workforce, but also self-confidence and knowledge applicable in the everyday world.

The conference featured several panels and workshops, networking dinners, a "Tuck Tails" event and a speed networking activity for prospective students, current students and Tuck alumni.

Approximately 50 prospective students and 40 current Tuck students registered for the conference and several Tuck faculty members participated in the panels, according to Abigail Sullivan Tu '10, one of the three event conference chairs.

After business school, Hanson worked at Goldman Sachs and later founded 85 Broads, a global network for professional women, she said.

The organization, originally created exclusively for women at Goldman Sachs, now boasts a membership of 20,000, according to the group's web site.

At the conference, Hanson spoke about ways to balance a career with family life.

"You have to decide how you invest," she said. "Making sure you have a life is critically important."

Gretchen Wallace Tu '01, founder and president of Global Grassroots, spoke about sustainability as a member of a panel, "Isn't Money Green? Making a Difference with your Career." Global Grassroots is an international nonprofit that sponsors a variety of development initiatives for women living in countries affected by war, including environmental improvement projects.

"Looking at sustainability from a financial, as well as an impact, perspective is the biggest challenge I face," Wallace said. "When there is an economic crisis, [sustainability initiatives] are usually the first set of programs that have to go."

The conference included five other panels, covering topics like networking, management in times of economic crisis, creative career moves that allow time for family, female entrepreneurship and salary negotiation techniques.

"The negotiations panel will be very interesting because it addresses the reason why men still have higher salaries than women and why they are sometimes afraid to negotiate their salaries," Sullivan said prior to the event.

This year's conference was the first to feature speed networking, Ali Robbins Tu '10, a member of the Women in Business Club board, said. The event introduced small groups of female students to women established in many areas of business.

"This will allow people to be aware of what women have been able to accomplish," Robbins said.

The conference organizers hoped to involve more men this year, Robbins said.

"We wanted to make it a lot more open to men and hope they show up to the panels, because the reality is that issues for women also affect men," she said.

The panels and activities were designed to help attendees develop personal and business relationships with each other, Sullivan said.

"We are really trying to build strong relationships across a number of constituencies by bringing all different women together to exchange ideas and discuss concerns," Sullivan said.

The conference also aimed to demonstrate the importance of the tight-knit Tuck community to prospective students, several individuals involved with the event told The Dartmouth.

"This is a community, and I never felt that way at Columbia," Hanson, who attended Columbia Business School, said.