Women Empowerment Day 2014

“Your number one job at Cal is to discover who you are and what your purpose is. Don’t have the world tell you what your story should be.”  – Krystal Thomas (Haas Lecturer and Alumnus, B.S. 1994)

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The Haas School of Business hosted its second annual Women Empowerment Day (WED) on April 4, 2014 at the Wells Fargo Room. Over sixty female undergraduate students were in attendance to listen and network with the nine Haas alumni who have returned to the university to share their advice on success.

The alumni spoke to students at small, intimate round table over tea. They discussed the importance of mentors in their various experiences working with and supervising male and female bosses and subordinates. Students were exposed to insights from myriad industries, ranging from consulting, technology, to entertainment and the caviar business.

Haas senior, Chelsea Itaya (B.S. 2014) asked Wendy Lim (B.S. 1999), Head of Investor Relations at Yelp, what investor relations was. Wendy had taken a variety of leadership positions at Yelp since its growth from 50 to 1,500 employees at present. Her role at the company involves daily communication with analysts, and current and potential investors, among others. She estimated that in the investment community, only one out of every 100 is a woman. Hence, she needed to make slight modifications to the way she acts and behaves in the male-dominated field, “I think there is something about projecting an air of confidence and making sure your voice is heard.”

Additionally, Wendy also explained that her career path was not necessarily correlated to her current position at Yelp. She had done consulting for Bain as her first career post-graduation from Haas. Although she enjoyed developing recommendations for clients, she felt unsatisfied. After providing solutions, consultants were no longer involved with the actual execution of their recommendations. Wendy realized her true interests after working at eBay, Clorox and Yelp, and earning her MBA: “I like to build new functions and teams and solve really messy problems.”

Halfway through the event, Haas Junior, Jesar Shah (BS Business, BA Computer Science, 2015) cited that WED provided her a rare opportunity to be in the same room with so many successful women. “A lot of my professors are male,” says Jesar, so “meeting all these women in powerful roles was a great opportunity. It was really refreshing.” Jesar also appreciated the prevailing theme of life-work balance. According to Shaoching Bishop (BS 1997), CEO of Sterling Caviar, family and work do not have to be mutually exclusive. As a mother of two, “[Shaoching] said that due to different cultures people may not accept what you are doing, but at the end of the day what’s important is what makes you happy,” Jesar recalls. Jesar adds that “It was very inspiring to be there, and it helped me think of things a little differently.”

Nationally renowned coach and author, Valorie Burton, and screenwriter and author, Gina Grant, were also at the event to provide mentorship and guidance to ambitious undergraduate women. WED was organized by Undergraduate Program Director, Erika Walker, and Haas Lecturer and Alumnus, Krystal Thomas (BS 1994), who stated “Your number one job at Cal is to discover who you are and what your purpose is. Don’t have the world tell you what your story should be.”

Denice Sy
Class of 2014

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