Leaning In with Sheryl Sandberg at Colgate’s Entrepreneur Weekend

Sheryl Sandberg was the star act for Colgate’s Entrepreneur Weekend this year. As the COO of Facebook, mother of two and now published author, she spoke to an impressive audience about the challenges that females face as they climb the career ladder. Her book, Lean In, explores these issues as well as provides proactive solutions through which women can achieve greater and more rewarding success.

Key Points

Leaders get to create the rules – it’s a simple fact of being in charge. If more women are leaders, more women will be making crucial decisions which both impact their business directly and speak for women around the globe.

Sandberg wants to ban the word “bossy” from the playground and replace it with the phrase “executive leadership skills”. Bossy is most commonly associated with little girls rather than boys. She explained this phenemonen to be an outdated concept: it’s no longer natural for boys (and men) to lead while their women watch passively. Sandberg believes that all women possess the capabilities to lead if only they choose to lean in and take more risks, whether those risks be professional or personal.

Taking credit and attributing one’s skills to the success of a project is key. Men are more likely to claim personal involvement in a successful situation whereas women will call on the powers of luck and the help from others. Sandberg understands that assertiveness can be a major factor in selecting employees for promotions and profitable project proposals, and shyness will prevent women from reaching top leadership positions.

A final point, one which received both criticism and applause, was that Sandberg advised choosing the right life partner to be the most crucial decision of one’s career. It’s understood that the right person, not just any husband or wife, will appreciate and understand each other’s goals, strengths and weaknesses. At this point a tangible sense of discomfort and dissension rose from the crowd. Many young women, including myself, feel enough pressure to find the right job, choose the right partner and attempt to complete these “Herculean Efforts” before the age of 30. Hearing one of the most current successful females in business mention this further emphasized the competitve pressures all female Colgate students face. Although I stand in agreement with Sandberg on this issue and am aware that my choice of husband will affect my career and parenting future, it’s clearly a touchy subject to address with so young women who are dedicated to their academic and career pursuits while also striving to uphold a bustling social agenda. 

We are all facing the bottom of the food chain upon graduation. Entry-level jobs redefined as “Associate”, “Assistant”, or “Intern” do not erase the likelihood of acquiring responsibilities and tasks similar to those of Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada. Yet Sandberg cautioned against women who enter the workplace looking for an exit. Heeding Sandberg’s advice means making instinctual, sound decisions and to lean in, in whichever arena you may call the playing field.


CWIB Brown Bag: Women Working and Parenting by Choice

CWIB partnered with the Women’s Studies Center to discuss the personal and professional choices of women. Panelists included Regina Conti, Rabbi Dena Bodian, Liz Bodean, and Carly Keller ’13.

As career-driven mothers they face the various challenges of compromise, sacrifice and time with both their families and their passions. Yet their reflections on family life were also vivid and inspiring. Watch it here!

LinkedIn: A Fantastic Networking Tool

Colgate Women in Business met during the last week of March to discuss our members profiles on LinkedIn, a prominent job search and colleague connection website primarily used to network. In creating a profile, you can post a resume online, list your education background and work experience, provide a short summary and photograph and connect with potential employers and friends to build a strong networking foundation.  

Once you have a profile with LinkedIn you can build your network by requesting to connect with classmates, previous employers, parents, siblings, friends, etc. LinkedIn will also show you “degrees” of connections too. For example if your sibling shares a connection with someone at NBC, they will be a connection by two degrees of difference. 

Making the right connection is key, however…. Linkedin is not Facebook. CWIB suggests requesting certain connections with potential, whether that be in an industry of interest or an employer with whom you share a common background and unifying attribute, such as Colgate University. The Colgate University group on LinkedIn unites all current students and alumni who participate with this virtual interface. Searching the Colgate group serves as an alternative to ICAN or Navigate because it also lists alumni by career, industry and city. 

A few weeks back, I was browsing through the Colgate University group, specifically of alumni who work in the food and wine industry. I discovered a ’97 alum who owns his own wine distribution and importing company, and I was able to set up a phone conversation with him with just a few clicks. LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for exercising the number one piece of advice you’ll hear in Career Services, “Networking”. 

Make sure to update and revamp your LinkedIn profile as needed. It is a fantastic professional and social outlet for finding a job, researching an industry or simply looking for a potential connection that may form a bridge leading to your next opportunity. 




The Importance of First Impressions: A Psychological Perspective

As we all know, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. A strong handshake, eye contact and appropriate attire can attribute to one’s success in both the professional and personal realm. When Professor Keating spoke to CWIB prior to our spring break vacation she focused on the first impression, namely when meeting a potential employer for the first time. We discussed key factors such as physical appearance, nonverbal expression and emotional perception when preparing for or during an interview.

Keating studies the psychology of leadership among other areas. She discussed how to grab the attention and interest of your interviewer or someone you’re meeting for the first time. She noted how dominance and comfort can be expressed by leaning forward, using your hands and smiling. Humans innately read and interpret body language and posture in order to understand the environment and attitude of the person they’re with. A strong, warm handshake is crucial; not only does looking someone in the eye while shaking hands matter but also ensuring that one’s hands are not clammy or wet. These are negative circumstances and can suggest discomfort, nervousness and insecurity. These nonverbal communication signs all contribute to the perception others form and create.

Outside the direct realm of the interview Keating called attention to the Facial-Feedback Hypothesis and how women are perceived in the workplace. We are expected to smile, to speak with a higher pitch, and to have warm personalities. Women who do not portray these qualities are considered abnormal and therefore cold. Simple things to remember like a friendly nod, leaning forward, making eye contact and speaking at the same speed and tone as your partner can combat signs of discomfort or awkwardness in a first meeting.

One of the more profound topics Keating discussed was laughter and humor as a social bond. Laughter is a common expression of comfort, joy, happiness and friendship and it serves as a common identity to which everyone can relate. As I mentioned earlier both a warm, an inviting smile and infectious laughter are generally expected of women and those who are more introverted may find they experience the negative outcomes from this perceived “coldness”. Furthermore people respond to laughter regardless of age, sex and status. Laughter can simply create positive vibes which are always helpful in new environments.

Keating concluded her discussion by reminding the women of CWIB that a strong introduction and a little self-deception of one’s emotions can be helpful in an interview. Feigning confidence is not always a good thing, however it can be a crucial aspect of the job-search as well as navigating a new environment.

The Inside Scoop to Business School with Charlotte Burkly, ’06

This past Tuesday, CWIB met Charlotte Burkly, a ‘06 alumna via Skype in order to learn about business school, the application process and the benefits of earning an MBA. Charlotte currently works in the admissions office at the Columbia Business School in New York City.

Charlotte opened by revealing the main reason people apply to business school is to change jobs. Charlotte told us that the average applicant has between three and seven years of work experience as well. With this information however, she encouraged us to take the Graduate Management Admission Test or GMAT as soon as possible, while our college test-taking skills are still sharp. The GMAT is required for all business schools and tests applicants on a range of quantitative, verbal and integrated reasoning skills.

Charlotte also offered the breakdown of classes during the two-year business program. She explained how the first year is focused on introductory courses specializing in marketing, finance, accounting or ethics, which all students must pass. The second year is more flexible, allowing students to choose their own classes according to their business experience and future career goals.

Finally, Charlotte spoke about the benefits of earning an MBA degree. From securing internships, to broadening your client and networking base to supplementing your knowledge of general business practices, business schools around the country are helping workers achieve their career goals.

Women in the 2012 Election

Just over one week ago the American public reelected President Barack Obama to a second term. According to a recent article published in the Huffington Post on voter results, Obama received 59% of the vote from unmarried women as well as 59% of the vote for people ages 18-29. This victory, specifically in the eyes of women, was well-documented and predicted.

Among the hundreds of statistics and polls, it’s difficult to keep track of who leads whom in specific states, regions or demographics during the campaign. However, CNN states that by mid-October data showed that white women supported Obama in place of opponent Mitt Romney 52%-46%. It’s clear that certain issues stood above the rest at the voting booths for young, ambitious and independent women.

Most notably is the umbrella topic of female sexual freedoms: the right to birth control, the abortion debate and governmental support for Planned Parenthood centers around the country. Part of Romney’s federal cutback plan included the threat to remove funding for Planned Parenthood, which helps to provide contraception, breast and ovarian cancer screenings and examinations, guidance and medical assistance for women. This was one issue that I, as well as many female college students, are unwilling to sacrifice, political associations aside.

Secondly, respect for women’s equality in business and politics served as a majorly contested issue. Historically the Republican party has been seen as “The White Man’s Party,” and unfortunately, this nickname produces the misconception that it is closed off and uninterested in female participation.  In addition, Mitt Romney lost many female supporters when he alluded to his “binders full of women” as well as his concern that working women should have time to “go home and cook dinner” during the debates. Whether or not Romney’s statements were intentional or mistaken, his platform presented a tangible and recognizable conflict of interest for women.

A common political standpoint for a majority of college students (including myself) is to identify as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal”, which makes the decision to support either the Republican or Democratic party increasingly difficult. In addition, this was my first election in which I was eligible to vote. On the broad political spectrum, I am pro-choice, against war, and in support of equal rights for women in the workplace but I also believe in the superior nature of capitalism, private ownership of business and limited interference from the government in business practices. In this election, there was no perfect candidate to simultaneously mediate my beliefs and win the hearts of the American public. Electing the President, and the political sphere as a whole, presents a clear environment where one is forced support the lesser of two evils.

For more information on women’s influence on the 2012 election, read these articles:

  1. http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/08/politics/women-election/index.html
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carl-jeffers/some-poignant-personal-ob_b_2137023.html
  3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/women-in-politics-break-records-2012-election_n_2088954.html