I had the pleasure of attending the first annual Women in Business (WiB) Leadership Development Conference on Friday, February 1 at the ACES library on campus. The conference theme was “Unleashing Your Inner Potential,” featuring several sessions of speakers and workshops. The night before, a nice pre-conference networking reception was held at Crane Alley in Urbana. The lead coordinator for the conference was MBA2 student Vanessa Fuller, along with the previous WiB board (Stephanie Barry, Laura Schneiderman and Doreen Lee), the current board (Priyanka Kushwala and Christiana Laleye), MBA2 Lindsay Gross, and PMBA Krista Kimme. Over 30 guests attended, including full-time and part-time MBA students, undergraduate students in business, LER students, and several men!
Attendees had the pleasure of listening to several engaging and valuable speakers. The keynote speaker was Laura Frerichs, director of University of Illinois’ Research Park. We then had the opportunity to participate in a workshop titled “Creating a Coaching Culture,” led by The Leadership Institute. This was an opportunity for group discussion and activities to better help us understand the value of being coached in the workplace, as well as the development of skills to coach others. The next speaker was Jean Driscoll, Assistant Dean of Advancement in the College of Applied Health Sciences. She told a truly inspirational story of her life; overcoming adversity and hardship to follow her dreams and bring motivation to everything she does. The last session of the day gave participants an option to either participate in a panel discussion on issues women face in the workplace, led by LER professor Amit Kramer and Director of the Post-Doctoral Affairs Office Alexis Thompson; or a presentation from Senior Associate Director of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Rebecca McBride. I attended Rebecca’s discussion, which addressed opportunities for advancement and leadership in non-traditional careers and including what you are passionate about in your job.
My favorite part of the whole conference was seeing how all of the topics of the day tied in with each other. The speakers often referred back to things that were mentioned earlier in the day. It was inspiring to listen and ask questions of various women who had all become successful leaders while staying true to themselves and their passions. I obtained a lot of value from the entire event, and I definitely recommend attending next year!
If you participated in the WiB event, what did you like most? Did you have a favorite speaker?