By Lily Marguy
Earlier this month, Director Leslee Ruggeri and twenty-two students ranging from first year to seniors attended the Harvard Intercollegiate Business Convention at the Harvard Business College in Boston, MA. The day included keynote speakers; CEO of JPMorgan Chase’s Asset & Wealth Management, Mary Erdoes, Founder of FLOUR SHOP, author Amirah Kassem, Founder and CEO of Prakti Pritika Swarup, and Millennial entrepreneur Andrea Lisbona. There were morning and afternoon breakout sessions about the beauty and entertainment industries, Entrepreneurship, and STEM, as well as workshops and networking opportunities. Gianna Bouchard ‘26 and President of the Institute for Women’s Leadership Claire Curry ‘24 present two different perspectives on their experience.
- What made you want to attend the conference?
Gianna: “I wanted to attend the conference as an opportunity to push myself outside of my comfort zone. When I transferred to Nichols, I promised myself that I would make the most out of my college experience, and to me, that also means immersing myself in every opportunity that presents itself. To grow my confidence in the business world and gain leadership experience, I must place myself in situations that will allow me to learn those skills. I gained much from the conference and every speaker left me with more insight than I previously had.”
Claire: “I attended the conference last year and had an amazing time. I learned so much from the panels and keynote speakers as well as the other women attending the conference! This conference always has amazing speakers from all over the country, which I look forward to.”
- What were your thoughts during the conference?
Gianna: “The experience was a memorable one. Being surrounded by many female business students also looking to further their college careers was something I am grateful to have been part of. Everyone was dressed nicely and the whole environment was uplifting and cheery. I attended the seminar by the CEO of JP Morgan, the entrepreneurship seminar, and keynote speaker Amirah Kassem. All three of these experiences brought me great insight into the reality of women in business.”
Claire: “I kept thinking about how lucky I was to be able to attend such an amazing event. Few people or schools get the opportunity to go to conferences, let alone at Harvard. I was feeling so thankful for Nichols, the IWL, and our donors who made the day possible.”
- What did you enjoy most?
Gianna: “I enjoyed the atmosphere most. It was very inspiring and connective. Everywhere you turned was an opportunity to listen in, begin a conversation and make a new friend. Everyone was there for the general same purpose, to support other women; a beautiful thing that I am grateful to have experienced.”
Claire: “I enjoyed the keynote speaker, Amirah Kassem, the most throughout the day. She was so unique and had such an amazing story about how her bakery took off. I loved her message about personal branding and staying true to yourself in your career. She also had insanely cool sparkly purple pants on!”
- What is one thing you learned during conference sessions?
Gianna: “One of the biggest things I noticed through the conference speakers was the fact that many of the women, widely successful businesswomen, had families of their own. I got the opportunity to speak with Amirah at the end of her seminar. I told her I was inspired by her growing business success and ability to be present for her children and family at the same time. She assured me it was possible and even though she loved her business, her family comes first. It made me realize I can have both, and I do not need to compromise and let go of my business dreams in order to have a family. It showed me I am not alone in my desire to have both a successful business and a family.”
Claire: “One thing that I learned during the beauty panel session is not to sell yourself short. No matter the industry you are working in, be confident in your abilities and knowledge. The worst thing you can hear is the word no, and then you keep on asking.”
- Would you recommend going to the conference? Would you go again?
Gianna: “I would certainly go to the conference again, every experience is valuable, especially one that immerses you into an environment that is so educational and supportive. I would recommend it to anyone, even if you do not have any interest in listening to the speakers, being able to network and connect with women from numerous backgrounds is well worth the trip.”
Claire: “I would highly recommend going to this conference because there is always something to learn from everyone, but especially these extremely successful women. It is so inspiring to hear their stories and the actions they took to get to where they are now. It also feels great to be surrounded by like-minded women who are also looking to learn and work on their professional development.”
Attending female centric conferences is beneficial for any woman wanting to find their place in the male-dominated industry of business. Opportunities such as these help women students to explore areas of interest, network, improve self-esteem and confidence and find inspiration that helps to empower them in their future careers. The Institute for Women’s Leadership offers many opportunities throughout the year where female students can explore and develop their leadership skills and styles. At least once per semester, the IWL goes to conferences encourages all female students to attend as many as they can during their time on the Hill.
Pictured here: First years & sophomores at the conference
Pictured here: Emma Dix ‘24, Ingrid Desouza Oliveria ‘24, Claire Curry ‘24, Raquel Santos ‘24, Sydney Ewell ‘24, and Taylor Cornell ‘24.