What to Expect When You’re Expecting To Attend the WSA Conference
The Women’s Student Association will hold its 21st Annual Dynamic Women in Business Conference here at HBS on Saturday, February 25th. The conference connects around 1,000 female students, alumnae, faculty, and business leaders for a full-day discussion of women in the global business landscape. The event convenes an extremely impressive group of leaders from around the world. It is also the opportunity for club presidents Tiffany Niver and Soraya Gheissari to shape their organization’s identity for the coming year.
While the WSA always draws impressive featured guests, Tiffany and Soraya are especially excited about this year’s lineup. Tiffany tells The Harbus, “We constantly try to push forward the quality of the keynotes each year.” In the speaker selection process, the co-presidents studied recordings of past talks delivered by keynote candidates to ensure quality content. The three headliners are: Mary Wittenberg, the President and CEO of New York Road Runners, Margo Georgiadis, President of Google Americas and HBS alum, and Ann Mukherjee, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Frito-Lay North America. Each was picked for her depth and breath of experience in the business world, as well as her championing of women’s issues.
Beyond the keynote addresses, the conference panels cover either industry-specific topics, or more generally pertinent issues of importance to women. In bolstering industry discussions in finance, healthcare, entrepreneurship, marketing, consumer goods, and social enterprise, WSA leaders aim to emphasize the networking opportunities that the conference provides. “We want HBS students to consider this a part of their summer job search,” Tiffany says.
To build on the interactive theme of this year’s offering, the WSA planning board is preparing networking lunches that allow ticketholders to eat lunch with the keynote speaker or panelist of their choice. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of women at HBS, alumnae will also be an important part of these conversations. There is a specific agenda tailored to HBS participating alumnae, and the Alumni Office is sponsoring post-conference dinners that will connect them with current students.
With the help of the administration, the WSA also planned the weekend in conjunction with ASW to encourage the involvement of female admitted students. The admissions office will cover the admittance fees for all who are interested in the conference. Tiffany and Soraya see this as an opportunity for them to demonstrate to both prospective RC’s and the outside community that HBS is committed to educating and supporting women leaders.
Dynamic Women in Business is always a pivotal event for the WSA organization. Sponsorship funds from the event cover club costs for the rest of the year, allowing the WSA to waive membership dues. Tickets are 50% subsidized by the club in order to encourage attendance. They are currently for sale, available to both men and women, on the WSA website. Co-President Tiffany says, “Every year I attend this conference, I leave feeling inspired. The energy in the room is powerful.” The Harbus considers her a reliable source since she’s attended the conference more than five years in a row.
Kate Lewis is an RC who is a member of the WSA.