Balancing Success and Happiness

The Women in Business student group recently hosted its third annual conference, reaching out to successful Lehigh alumni for career advice in “Balancing Success and Happiness.”

Panel discussions centered on how to stay engaged and motivated in one’s professional life, as well as on technology, innovation and communication.

Asked what motivates her on the job, Jennifer Schulte ’99G, global vice president, people and organization for Mars Drinks, told students and others in attendance, “Every day I learn something new.”  She said she asks a lot of questions of her colleagues. “Someone brings me a point of view I might not have heard before.”

Joining Schulte in the panel discussion on “Engagement and Motivation” were Brodi D. Jackson ’98, co-founder and managing partner of the venture capital firm Caerus Ventures, and Peter Ruggiero ’03G, executive vice president-global operations and technology for Crayola LLC.  Liuba Belkin, associate professor in the department of management at Lehigh, moderated.

Jackson told students that not every day and not every job task will be exciting, but “it’s all part of the package.” She explained, “You are adding to your toolbox even if you don’t exactly know how.”

Ruggiero said he enjoys coaching and mentoring young people, and he expressed pride in Crayola’s mission of helping to develop children’s creativity. He also said a company’s financial incentives help to motivate its employees.

A second panel discussion focused on “Technology, Innovation and Communications” and was moderated by Lehigh trustee Kevin Clayton ’84 ’13P, who was Lehigh’s interim president for the 2014-15 academic year. Panelists included Michael Liebman ’88, director of business intelligence for Bloomberg LP; Lorraine Barber-Miller ’96, vice president for IBM’s Global Business Services, C-suite and Blockchain Marketing across North America; and Tais O’Dwyer ’00, chief operating officer of technology and operations at CIT Group.

Keynote speaker was Lena Koropey, founder of Gramercy Protocol. She provides strategic business etiquette and communication skills counsel to Fortune 100 companies and entrepreneurs.

The theme of the conference, said Kiran Singh ’18, president of Women in Business, was inspired by Arianna Huffington’s novel "Thrive" and the theory of the happiness advantage. “We perform significantly better when we are happy,” she said.

The student group welcomes both male and female students. The organization focuses on business etiquette and provides networking opportunities with alumni and recruiters on campus.

Belkin asked panelists how they engage their employees. Ruggiero said Crayola maintains a positive mindset about failures, and rather than doing any finger-pointing, encourages its employees to collaborate to solve problems. Jackson said it’s important for companies to provide feedback to their employees and to give them opportunities to take risks.

There’s no one way to motivate employees, added Schulte, since what works for one person might not work for the next.

The annual conference provides an opportunity for students and alumni to interact with and learn from each other, said club advisor Jamie Pugh, associate director of undergraduate programs for the College of Business and Economics.

“The Lehigh network itself is a very strong and special network,” Pugh said. “I think that the women who have graduated are very happy to give back because maybe they didn’t have that opportunity while they were students….We want Women in Business to grow at Lehigh.”

Photos by Christa Neu

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