Magda Yrizarry addresses the Women in Business Conference attendees

Magda Yrizarry addresses the Women in Business Conference attendees

Women in Business Conference Focuses on Personal Branding, Inclusion

Lehigh alumni, experts offer career advice at student-run event at Iacocca Hall.

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

Photography by

Benjamin Wang '20

How do you speak up for yourself without being bossy? How important is maintaining a personal brand? As a new hire, how do you help the culture of an organization?

Lehigh students preparing to launch careers sought the perspectives of successful Lehigh alumni and other experts who served on two panels at the student-run Women in Business annual conference in April in Iacocca Hall.

Panelists on “Personal Branding” included Lehigh trustee Maria Chrin ’87  ’10P, founding and managing partner of Circle Wealth Management; Dipti Gulati ’90, senior audit partner at Deloitte; and Hayward Bell ’78G, retired chief diversity officer at Raytheon Company. Adjunct professor Jacquelyn Febbo ’04, College of Business and Economics, served as moderator.

Moderator Jacquelyn Febbo with panelists, from left, Hayward Bell, Dipti Gulati and Maria Chrin

Moderator Jacquelyn Febbo with panelists, from left, Hayward Bell, Dipti Gulati and Lehigh trustee Maria Chrin, who is co-chair of GO: The Campaign for Lehigh.

In the workplace, Gulati told students, never be afraid to articulate your point of view, but to do so in a calm manner. She cautioned them to back up their views with facts, not emotion. “Being prepared is important,” she said, and colleagues will view you as knowledgeable, not bossy.

Gulati also told students that some conflict can be a positive, though it’s a question of how to resolve those conflicts. “I want disagreements,” she said. “I want people to challenge. It’s the only way we can get better,” but then the team must work to come together.

A good leader, Bell said, will look for consensus.

Women in Business President Genevieve Nickerson '20

Genevieve Nickerson '20 is president of the student group Women in Business for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Chrin said she has approached conflicts by asking those on her team, can you help me understand your perspective? People are so focused on their opinions that they sometimes dismiss others’ point of view, she said. “You can be brilliant, but that doesn’t mean you have everything figured out,” Chrin said.

The keynote speaker was Magda Yrizarry, senior vice president, chief talent and diversity officer at Verizon, who addressed “Inclusive Leadership.” Yrizarry told attendees, "Diversity is counting heads. Inclusion is making those heads count."

The annual conference aims to help students develop the confidence to make a difference in their professional field, while also providing opportunities to network with speakers, sponsors and alumni at the event.

Moderator Donald Outing with panelists, from left, Marianna Goldenberg, Victoria Brifo and Ralph Thomas.

Moderator Donald Outing with panelists, from left, Marianna Goldenberg, Victoria Brifo and Lehigh trustee emeritus Ralph Thomas. 

A panel on “Promoting Inclusion” featured Marianna Goldenberg ’21P, founder and financial advisor at Curo Wealth Management; Victoria Brifo, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Air Products; and Lehigh trustee emeritus Ralph Thomas ’76  ’77G, CEO and executive director, New Jersey Society of CPAs. Donald Outing, vice president for equity and community at Lehigh, moderated.

Asked how new hires can help with the culture of an organization, Goldenberg advised students to do their homework on potential employers in order to assess whether they want to join that organization or whether another company environment would be more satisfying. Brifo said each new hire can have an impact on a company culture by expanding other employees’ network (maybe other employees have never previously met a female engineer, for example) and helping those other employees to expand their breadth of thinking. Sometimes, Thomas added, individuals need to step outside of their comfort zones.

Thomas said that hiring people with diverse backgrounds and thoughts make companies better.

Women in Business team

The Women in Business Executive Board greets guests. From left, Skyler McCabe '21, Salma Elboute '22, Emma Satin '21, Meghna Mishra '22 and Kate Mullen '21.

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

Photography by

Benjamin Wang '20

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