Tens of thousands of women major in business in the United States, and many of them belong to student groups for women business majors, like the Women’s Energy Network, the Businesswomen’s Association, or some variation of Women in Business.
But despite all those students and all those clubs, there’s no national organization linking them to each other. Ali Rosenberg thought it was a missed opportunity.
“I’m also a member of the risk management fraternity, Gamma Iota Sigma, and we have a national organization that is incredibly helpful,” says Rosenberg, a senior finance and management major from Des Moines who is president of the Tippie College of Business’ Women in Business student organization. “Through Gamma Iota Sigma, I’ve met like-minded students and received lots and help and support for the organization."
Rosenberg decided Women in Business would benefit from a similar national support system, so she and Alex Krebs, another longtime member of Tippie’s Women in Business organization and vice president for external relations, set out to organize a conference that would lay the foundation for the organization.
They focused first on the Big Ten schools so they could remain effective in their outreach, and their work culminated with the first Big Ten Women’s Business Connection leadership conference Jan. 16-18 in Chicago, Illinois. The session brought together 50 women from Big Ten universities who are members of women in business organizations.
“One recruiter told us she walked into the conference room, and she could feel the energy coming from everybody."
The pair spent hours planning through the fall, and the work required calling upon skills they learned in class and outside organizations. Krebs, a senior accounting and art history major from Okoboji, says she found a skill learned from art professor Wallace Tomasini’s Public Art course particularly helpful.
“Professor Tomasoni’s class taught me to think about what people want and what people think and considering every minute detail of what people expect to see in a public art display,” she says. “When I was thinking about the conference program, I asked myself what the people who are attending wanted to get out of it.”
They worked with the college’s alumni network, booking conference space at Google’s office building in downtown Chicago through 2011 graduate and Google employee Roberto Paniagua, and the keynote address was delivered by Laura Desmond, Global CEO of Starcom Mediavest Group marketing agency, a 1987 alumna. They also arranged for the rest of the nuts and bolts needed to pull off a conference, like hotel rooms, designing and printing programs, scheduling break-out sessions on such topics as professional development events, and membership retention.
Rosenberg and Krebs had the usual pre-conference jitters, but right from the first event—an icebreaker at the Lucky Strike bowling lanes—they knew everything had come together.
“One recruiter told us she walked into the conference room, and she could feel the energy coming from everybody,” Krebs says.
The meeting was successful, and Ohio State will host the conference in 2016. Rosenberg says one Penn State sophomore was so excited she offered to organize one for her senior year, in 2017.
Rosenberg and Krebs both say they’d be happy to return to future conferences of the organization they founded together.