Women We Love…Correspondents, Activists, Moms & More!

There are movers and shakers who empower those around them to be the best they can be. Here is a short list of my top “Sheroes”:

Samantha Power
samantha powerShe’s a former war correspondent, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, an ambassador and a mother of two. Her job is as hard as it gets – she has to make the world a better place, her boss is the President of the United States and she has to deal with international crises on a daily basis. I was fortunate enough to see Samantha speak at the 2014 Women in the World Summit in NYC. I appreciate her for being wicked smart, taking risks and keeping things in perspective despite the struggles of her work.

Sallie Krawcheck
This regular CWiB speaker is one of the most powerful women on Wall Street and the proud CEO of Ellevate, a 30,000-woman network that helps them break into the upper echelons of business. Besides being an active Columbia Business School alumna, Sallie launched the first index fund that lets retail investors buy shares of companies where women make up a significant portion of leadership, including PepsiCo and Lockheed Martin. Thanks to Sallie, there has never been a better time for socially conscious investing!

Zainab Hawa Bengura
One of my favorite activists is a true agent for change fighting to end sexual violence against women in war zones. She began as a social activist in Sierra Leone during the civil war and spent over 20 years promoting affordable health and democracy across Africa. Zainab is now a representative to the UN on Sexual Violence in Conflict. It’s her commitment to bring perpetrators to justice and rehabilitate victims that touches me so much.

My Mom
She’s incredibly talented, strong and loving. From humble beginnings in Casablanca, she was only 7 years-old when she lost her own mom and overcame unbelievable circumstances to become one of few female business leaders in Morocco. My mom is the most giving person I have ever known and a caring mother to my two sisters and I. For her never give-up spirit, thirst for knowledge and sense of humour, she’s my greatest inspiration. She raised me to be the women I am today and gave me the hope and belief that anything is possible. Merci Maman!

By: Sophia Dadas ’15

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Women We Love….Ariana Huffington

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Arianna Huffington is a woman whom I respect because of her bold positioning of priorities.

Arianna is celebrated as one of the most influential women in the world.  She is well known as the co-founder of the news website The Huffington Post though she is also hugely recognized as a frequent magazine and television personality and author of several books.  Forbes recently placed her on their list of most powerful women in the world.

I was fortunate enough to see Arianna speak when she visited Columbia Business School in April 2014. Despite all of her impressive credentials the focus of Arianna’s speech was the importance of taking care of oneself.

Many of the women that we idolize are able to “do it all” – have successful, full-time careers while taking care of children, keeping up relationships, contributing to their community and much more.  There are simply not enough hours in the day to get all of this done without sacrificing something.  And what is often sacrificed is sleep and taking care of oneself.  These women are revered and wear their lack of sleep like a badge of honor.

Arianna called this sacrifice out and challenged us to boldly defy it.  While she listed off the physical and mental hazards of not getting enough sleep, she really highlighted the detriment that it can do to one’s success.  Arianna has coined “thrive” as the third metric – in addition to money and power – of success.  Arianna called for us to recognize the importance of unplugging and taking time for ourselves and challenged us to get 30 minutes more sleep that night than we had the night before.

I respect Arianna’s prioritizing of well-being and sleep among the chatter of successful, “do it all” women.

By: Johanna Singer ’15

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A day in the life…of an Investment Banking Intern

AshleyHinesInternshipBy: Ashley Hines ’15

During my application process for business school, I thought I wanted to change things up like most people do. I had worked in finance at a great firm before school as an equity trader. This was a fun job, with a lot of social interaction in a fast paced environment. These were all huge positives for me, yet I realized I was not the one making any ultimate decisions. At first I thought I wanted to pursue consulting with a focus on consumer and retail as my career switch. Yet as I started to explore those options, I realized that my entire network was in finance and that I enjoyed the finance industry, but not the role I was in. Thus, I decided I wanted to stay in finance and pursued a role in investment banking.

I was fortunate enough to receive a Diversity Fellowship, allowing me to skip the investment banking recruiting process (which is quite intense) and choose the group I would like to be in for the summer. I am in the Consumer and Retail Investment Banking Group at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

As for a day in the life, each day is a new challenge. I had worked in finance prior to school and so I had some idea of what to expect. Yet as I arrived the first day, I realized I was an intern again. That has been the biggest hurdle for me to get over. Most MBAs have had careers before and even had interns working for them. Now we are back at the bottom of the totem pole, which is a humbling experience but liberating in some sense. You are given free rein to ask any question you want, so take advantage of the opportunity to learn!

Overall, the role has exceeded my expectations. I have been given meaningful work that I can take the lead on and I have been able to exercise my creativity, which was unexpected in a role where everyone wears a suit every day.  I also have been given the opportunity to manage summer analysts as well as sharpen my technical skills. I can see how this job translates into many more opportunities, so no matter what happens in two weeks (fingers crossed), I am so glad I had this experience in investment banking.

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A Day in the Life…of a Less Traditional Summer

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By: Kanyisa Ncemane ’15

Simple Instructions on How to spend the summer of Your First-Year of B-School:

  1. Don’t Be Like Me.

About a week (or seven…) ago, our extremely understanding (patient, kind, talented and awesome…) CWiB VP of Marketing, Kristen Bierfeldt,  asked me to put together a blog under the “A Day in the Life…” series. So, yesterday, after a couple of gentle reminders from Kristen – I began to document the contents of “a day in the life of a… Summer Slacker”

Thursday, 24th July 2014 (day 71 of 103)

6:00 – Wake-up.

6:01 – Curse disobedient internal body-clock, roll-over and fall back to sleep.

9:23 – Wake-up again.

9:25 – Check Instagram. Chuckle at the miserable winter my South African friends and family are having. No filter can hide that doom and gloom buddies…#instaNYCsummer.

9:31 – Check Facebook. Chuckle again at the miserable winter my South African friends and family are having.

9:42 – Check Whatsapp. Catch-up on gossip on the family Whatsapp group (my cousin and his wife have just gotten a new puppy and they are letting it stay in the house…with the humans…what a SCANDAL). Reply to some or other silly wise cracks my brothers have written while the other hemisphere was sleeping (it’s now 6 hours later so my responses are in general way too delayed to even sound vaguely witty… curse you latitude and your time zones).

9:54 – Switch on TV. Flick through channels… Stop on the Steve Harvey show… linger for longer than is acceptable (where does Steve Harvey buy these awful suits? Fascinating).

10:23 –Check cellphone. Die of shock – I have less than 7 minutes to get to my gym appointment.

10:24– Send text to Mel (unreasonably attractive personal trainer) to tell him that the metro is delayed. Lies.

10:25 – Search for clean gym clothes. Futile.

10: 35 – Catch 1 train to gym on 95th and Broadway.

10: 42 – Arrive at gym.

10: 43 – Get on treadmill. Stand on stationary treadmill.

10:45 – Mel spots me, comes over, asks how long I’ve been running for. I respond: “11 minutes”. Another lie.

11:00 – Struggle through 5 push-ups. Mel asks me what I have had for breakfast. I respond: “oatmeal”. More lies.

11:30 – Leave gym feeling like I’ve been trampled by a family of elephants. I really should eat before I come here.

11:49 – Arrive at my building. Catch-up with my doorman – James. He is awesome and basically my only friend between the hours of 9am and 6pm … (yes… Kelly, Leslie and Jess… this is the part where you feel bad about never taking my calls because you are “at work”…whatever.)

12:15 – Go upstairs.

12: 17 – Get into the shower.

12:35 – Get out of the shower (yes… you read right… I take 18minute showers. It’s a self-awarded summer slacker privilege).

12:36 – Search for clean clothes. Again…futile.

12:37 – Prepare lunch. Today’s menu: Bran Flakes and Soya Milk. My favorites.

12: 41 – Take daily “power nap”.

15:23 – Wake up from “power nap”. Get angry at myself for “over-doing” the napping. Give myself a mental lecture about how I am wasting my summer and how I should really get out and do something. Explore New York. Read a GOOD book. Go to the Guggenheim. Take a cooking class. Practice my mandarin.

15:25 – Exhausted from the mental lecture, I reward myself with another quick nap.

16:00 – Switch on TV. Watch two back-to-back episodes of Dr. Phil (the USA content is so much better than what we get in South Africa – we’re still airing Season 1… I think the show may have still been finding its feet at that point. Not the same.).

17:30 – Prepare dinner. Today’s menu: Almonds and 3 week old yoghurt (I stand firm in the belief that expiry dates are purely illustrative).

18:00 – Watch TV. Oh look… another Law & Order SVU re-run. Fantastic.

20:12 – Agonize about how to force a cable subscription into my monthly budget.  It’s a fairly complicated decision:  the rent or cable?  Abort.

21:00 – Check emails. Read emails.

21: 01 – Mark emails as “unread”. Mentally file under “emails I should really respond to”. I am living in a sea of black.

21:05 – Read two pages of Junot Diaz’s “The Brief  Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”. Yawn. Pass out.

And that was my yesterday. In all fairness – not all of the 71 days of this summer have been like yesterday. I have had a wonderful time. I spent a month in Asia (the picture above is from Day 42 in Halong Bay, Vietnam), two wonderful weeks traveling America (it is so under-rated!) with my awesome parents and am about to embark on a glorious trip to Greece and Spain with some of my oldest and most loyal friends.

So how did I end up here? I didn’t recruit for an internship. By the time the recruiting season came around (exactly three weeks after I’d started at CBS… don’t believe a word of what they say… it more than JUST sneaks up on you!) I hadn’t a clue of what I wanted to do with my life. For the most part – I still don’t. I do know myself a lot better, however. I know what it is that I don’t want. I have taken this time to figure at least that out. So to the candidates who join us at CBS this Fall – go back to the instructions I gave at the beginning of this blog: Don’t be like ME. Be like YOU. Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the excitement and the angst (and there will be angst) that comes with the first year of B-school. Stay true to YOU.

I look forward to meeting all of you soon.

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A Day in the Life…of a Career Switcher

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By: Caroline Kirwin, ’15

As most people heading to business school, I was looking for a change. Although we all believe we know what the change will be, whether career industry, function, geography, etc., rarely does that initially clear path prove to be easily navigated. As we begin recruiting what seems like a few short days after beginning school, the path not only forks, but rather splits into about 10+ different trails. Should I focus on jobs with a defined hiring cycle along with half of my class? Do I need a higher paying job to cover my student and growing travel loans? Is now the time to launch my tiaras for dogs line? The rapidly growing decision tree is overwhelming. Eventually we blink and find ourselves halfway down one (or somehow straddling two) of the paths without even realizing how we ended up there.

 My story isn’t much different but at least thus far, it has resulted in me returning to that initial path I wrote about in my application essay (and I can’t even cross my fingers when typing this post). I was unsure I would be able to make the leap to the energy industry without having had much prior energy experience, so I also pursued investment banking and finance rotational programs. After some hard work and probably a bit of good luck, I was able to land an internship in GE’s Energy Financial Services group doing exactly what I had hoped – financing energy projects.  Although I tried to prepare as much as is possible prior to starting in early June, the reality set in on the train to Stamford my first day: I really don’t have much of an idea of what I am doing.

After five weeks, I am appreciating the steep yet exciting learning curve and taking it all in.  I spend my days helping those with years x years of experience justify their decisions to buy, sell, recapitalize or lend to energy projects and get those deals across the finish line.  As everyone who wants to make their job sound interesting states: there is no “typical” day. But, my days generally involve some combination of making slides for internal investment committee meetings, calculating returns on everrrrrything, freaking out about my final presentation to senior management and eating Sodexo lunches (for those thinking of working in Stamford – get a car!).

 To where this path continues, only time will tell. It may split 10 more times and then converge at the end of next year or it could stay straight and narrow all the way through.  Either way, I am going to enjoy the journey and keep that travel debt growing.

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