Executives share empowering stories


Essence BoydCopy Editor & Tamonda GriffithsNews Writer

The School of Business held a networking event and panel discussion to introduce their pilot project, the Women in Business Mentoring program, said Ellen Durnin, dean of the school of Business via a short video.

The event, Finding Your Voice as a Leader: Women Executives Share What They Would Tell Their Younger Selves, took place for an audience of students, faculty, staff and other female business professionals last week in the Adanti Student Center.

Judite Vamvakides, Associate Vice President of Alumni and Donor Engagement said her goal in creating the program as part of her final project for her master’s program was to positively impact and enhance leadership skills in female students.

Throughout her professional career, Vamvakides said the young women she worked with would often self-select themselves out of higher-ranking positions and opportunities.

“I worked with other young women, you know who, who said, ‘I don’t think I wanna be a VP,’ and it was sad to me,” said Vamvakides. “Yeah, it was sad to me because they were setting that bar at 22.”

“There is a lot of comradery around this event and amongst this group. We are here not only to learn but to lift each other up and to encourage many of you,” said Associate Vice President of Enrollment Terricita Sass.

The event was mediated by Good Morning Connecticut Co-Anchor Jocelyn Maminta.

Amongst the line-up of panelists was Comcast Customer Care Vice President Sandy Weicher, who said being a woman in the workplace can be both an advantage and disadvantage.

“Sometimes you’re under the radar. Women tend to be—which can be one of our downfall’s–we tend to go do the work, really hard and think the work will speak for itself, and, well, you have to learn that’s not true,” said Weicher.

Alumna and founderof Wow! Creative Design Group Jackie Buster said being a woman of color in business means constant pressure to succeed.

“You cannot make as many mistakes as other folk or you’re singled out,” said Buster.

Each panelist was able to provide a time when being in a male-dominated field was hardest, and each of said it was when they became pregnant.

“I had to kind of hide [pregnancy] because I was the first female CEO of any major sports organization,” said Anne Worcester, tournament director for Connecticut Open and chief marketing officer of Market New Haven. “When I finally let everybody know I was pregnant, I had the head of the German Tennis Federation say to me ‘How can the CEO be pregnant?’”

Throughout the course of their professional careers, one important lesson each woman kept with them was to always say ‘yes’ to all opportunities that taught new skills.

“Always say ‘yes,’ always volunteer for something that needs to be done. Keep saying ‘yes,’ try something different it’s just an opportunity to learn and grow within your positions,” said Director of Corporate Communications and Public Relations of Assa Abloy Marna Wilber.

According to Vice President of Student Affairs Tracy Tyree, the event was a great way to even the playing field as “every day is an opportunity for men to network.”

“A man would not say ‘hm, can I do that?’ a man would assume he will be successful you should be no different,” said Worcester.

Although the program was anticipated to encourage perspective business women, the idea of networking events for perspective business men was proposed as well.

“There are many ways in which it is still a man’s world,” said Tyree, “girls and women need their own spaces and their own opportunities to connect with each other, to hone their skills and to feel like the most important people in the room.”

Photo Credit: Tamonda Griffiths

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