Editor’s Note: Cassie Sadinksi, the president of the graduate Women in Business club at the Eccles School, attended the recent Women’s Tech Council Speed Networking event. Here, she shares what she learned and why networking can be such a vital part of your business education.
Unlike other networking events, however, the Women’s Tech Council Speed Networking event on Oct. 21 offered a unique experience to interface with five inspiring female business leaders from around the Salt Lake valley.
The Women’s Tech Council is a nonprofit community organization that seeks to empower women in technology roles and technology companies through mentoring, networking and visibility. For the past three years, the group has participated in a speed-networking event at the Eccles School. The event was sponsored by Women in Business, a club that aims to engage, develop and support women in the Eccles School of Business through education, connection, and empowerment.
Successful career women from a variety of backgrounds come to chat with small groups of students, which rotate about every 10 minutes when a buzzer signals students to relocate to a different table to hear from a new mentor.
This year we were privileged to speak with the senior vice president of marketing at Instructure, a partner at The Summit Group, the vice president of creative services at Contravent, an attorney at Holland & Hart and an IT consultant.
Each woman shared experiences and insights from her career pathway, mentioning challenges she faced (and continues to face) and approaches or techniques that have led to her success.
Each woman with whom I spoke had faced gender-related issues at work. One mentor left a company when she realized that no amount of effort would enable her to break through the glass ceiling; now, she is a senior team member who loves her leadership role at her new company.
Another woman has learned to navigate her all-male team team by conducting business “as a man would.” Although I know that the STEM industries are especially lacking in female leadership, I was stunned to learn that there are only two other female executives in her industry in Utah — two in the entire state!
Multiple mentors credited some of their successes to the fact that they had never even considered having to fight for a seat in the boardroom. While I have never questioned the right of myself or any other woman to have a voice in the corporate world, carrying this type of unwavering resolve and self-confidence seems to be an invaluable tool (dare I say, shield) as we set out in our careers.
Undergrad and graduate students from information systems, business, science, and other programs all converged for this event, leading to interesting discussions about similarities and differences between our student experiences. Even after the last buzzer signaled the conclusion of the event, students and mentors milled about creating new connections or strengthening existing ones, in a display of the true value of networking.