Women share experiences in Women MBAs group
Share with others:
After earning an MBA sustainability degree last year from Duquesne University, Stefanie McNansky taught for a semester at a business school in Cologne, Germany.
Among the observations she brought back about Europe in December was a sense that there were a wide range of female-based organizations available where professional women could share experiences.
Soon after her return, she began researching similar opportunities for women in Pittsburgh and decided to launch a local chapter of the National Association of Women MBAs.
Along with a couple of friends who were also recent MBA grads, Ms. McNansky, 24, approached business school leaders at Duquesne and Robert Morris University, where she received her undergraduate degree, and came away with enthusiastic support for the initiative to help women network, find mentors and share experiences.
The chapter officially launches Wednesday at an event hosted by Duquesne's Palumbo Donahue School of Business, Uptown. Julie Caponi, Alcoa vice president of global audit, will speak about women in business and leadership development.
Pittsburgh is the 11th city in the United States to have a chapter of the national organization formed in 2007 with its first chapters in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
The national group's mission statement includes "empowering female business professionals to propel more women into leadership positions in corporate America and to enhance the diversity of the nation's workforce," according to its website.
Statistics show there has been sluggish growth among the number of women in top positions at U.S. companies and on corporate boards.
For instance, a survey released last week by Bloomberg-Businessweek.com said 29 companies in the S&P 500 "remain all male in decision-making roles, with no women on the board of directors or among the company's top five highest-paid officers."
The percent of women on corporate boards of S&P 500 companies slipped last year to 16 percent from 16.6 percent in 2009, the survey said. Women hold only 2.6 percent of board chairmanships, according to Catalyst, a nonprofit that tracks women in business.
Ms. McNansky, a buyer for H.J. Heinz Co. at its innovation center in Marshall, said the Women MBAs group hopes to host a series of successful women executives as keynote speakers who can share insights into "how they got there and what challenges they overcame."
Besides mentoring and networking, the group hopes to provide continuing education on business and will engage in community service through a partnership with the Women's Center and Shelter of Pittsburgh.
Of the 76 women who have signed on for the launch event, ages range from 20-somethings to seasoned professionals in their late 50s, said Ms. McNansky.
"This is not just for younger women," she said. "We have generations with experience from executives to new grads. That's why we have this organization: to learn from each other and learn how to handle the obstacles."
Gayle Marco, associate dean of the business school at Robert Morris, said it was significant that Women MBAs spans different age brackets.
"They can mentor each other. Some are new MBAs, some are in the field."
She believes that the organization can help boost the ranks of women in top management and executive jobs, too.
"If I'm only one of several women in an organization, I might have been the only woman in the room when I started. Now there's a network where I can say, 'I have a friend who works at X, Y or Z, and I know someone who can do this, this and this.' So if I have an opening in my company, I know someone."
For those who may be intrigued by the network but aren't sure they qualify, the group's title may be misleading.
"We won't turn anyone away who doesn't have their MBA yet," said Jessica Haifa, program director for the organization's Pittsburgh chapter and who earned hers last year at Duquesne.
For more information on Wednesday's event, go to www.mbawomen.org/events and click on the events calendar.
First Published June 28, 2011 12:00 am