On September 28th, Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business and Women in Technology YoPros (WIT YoPros) hosted an impactful event for aspiring women leaders in the tech space. WIT YoPros is a program that “provides young professional women ages 20-29 with the network, the tools, and the skills to excel as they transition from student to professional.” During the WIT event keynote speaker, Terry Blum, former dean of the College and Faculty Director of the Institute for Leadership and Social Impact, as well as a panel of women professionals discussed their experience navigating their early to mid-career stage. This panel included Katie Badura, Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior; Terry Blum, Tedd Munchak Chair and Professor of Organizational Behavior; Shan Cooper, CEO of Journey Forward Strategies; Maribeth Gandy, Director of Research for Institute for People and Technology (IPaT) at Georgia Tech; and Nan Zhao, Assistant Professor of Marketing, and was moderated by Analisa Wade, a first-year full-time MBA student.
The event highlighted the importance of leveraging a powerful network and always seeking growth opportunities. Professionals and YoPros alike were encouraged to build networks throughout their career, especially seeking out mentors, sponsors, and coaches. One student that attended the event was even offered a mentoring session with panelist Shan Cooper following the program. There was additional buzz highlighting the value of continued education, and several women expressed their interest in the Scheller MBA program following their undergraduate studies. Terry Blum commented on the event:
“The women I met were awesome…[They] heard and understood that there are multiple paths that could be taken for being successful at the intersection of business and technology. The path is more of a labyrinth and may include advanced education such as an MBA, but the appropriate timing varies for different women. The women I spoke with afterward seemed inspired and inspiring. They were appreciative of the opportunity to network and explore different possibilities for their future development.”
First-year full-time MBA student, Anula Wagle commented on the personal impact of having representation from the Tech community, giving her confidence and leaving her feeling empowered through mentorship. The panelists demonstrated that women have a place in the corporate world, and these successful women are paving the way for women behind them. Anula explained:
“I have a lot of anxiety around how I’m viewed as a woman and whether I will be taken seriously in the workplace…but sitting with a group of women professionals who faced the same problems gives me confidence to face them myself…knowing that I will always have mentors to fall back on. Representation is so important. Having confident, powerful women [role models] changes others’ perspective, setting equal standards in the workplace, where women can be expected to contribute just as much as men. After the panel, I spoke with other women about practical things like finding comfortable business shoes, feeling the freedom to ask the ‘stupid’ questions without being judged as ‘girly,’ ‘shallow,’ or ‘unserious’…Knowing that we’re all in this together is amazing. I had thought about all these things prior to the event, but hearing other more experienced people talk about this in a structured and solution-oriented way was really refreshing. Georgia Tech has been historically male-dominated. Seeing Terry Blum, professors, and women in tech made me feel like I have a place in this community.”
Overall, the event was highly successful and aligned with Georgia Tech’s Strategic Plan, to Expand Access and Amplify Impact for women at Georgia Tech and beyond. Georgia Tech’s Institute for Leadership and Social Impact (ILSI) offers a Leadership Studies Minor which is an excellent next step for undergraduate women seeking to grow their leadership skills through practical experience. The ILSI, founded by Terry Blum, is an interdisciplinary initiative that promotes servant leadership and organizational practices that contribute to a more just, caring, and equitable world.