Happiness and Success: Life as a Woman at Simon Business School

The following blog post was written by Alyssa Rinck, 2018 MBA candidate

On December 1-2, Simon hosted several distinguished alumnae for our annual Women’s Conference. I joined fellow students, prospective candidates, and the alumnae to discuss issues women are facing in business today. Before the keynote dinner, I walked up to the Strathallan Hotel (where the dinner was hosted) unsure of what the topic of discussion would be. I mingled with classmates over some hors d’oeuvres, scanning the room for Nithya Ruff ’91 MBA, our speaker for the evening.

Nithya Ruff '91 MBA addressed the Women's Conference attendees at a dinner keynote presentation.

Nithya Ruff ’91 MBA addressed Women’s Conference attendees at a dinner keynote presentation.

As Director of Open Source Strategy in Western Digital’s CTO Office, Nithya’s background was fascinating to me – I had so many questions for her. I myself have a background in corporate retail, with career aspirations in management consulting, so the whole “open source strategy” concept was foreign to me. When Nithya took the podium, I quickly realized that open source strategy may be more complicated than a 20-minute post-dinner chat, however she brilliantly delivered the abridged version for us “non-techies” in layman’s terms.

What was most captivating was that Nithya spent most of her talk speaking about the soft skills and the transferable talents required to navigate through the business world, such as building your brand, speaking up for yourself, and driving your own career path. When Nithya concluded, she wished us happiness and success – in that order. Walking away from the event I wondered, what does happiness and success look like for women in business today? For me, happiness and success stem from gender parity and equal pay in the workplace.

So much is happening as we speak to work toward gender parity in the corporate world (specifically the C-suite), along with bridging the pay gap between women and men. I believe one day we will reach this through the support from other women, men, and organizations aligned toward these goals. All of this cannot happen until the world around us is open to change. In recent weeks, several corporations committed to gender equality by 2030 through the Paradigm for Parity Coalition. According to the Paradigm for Parity Coalition, women represent 46% of entry level professionals, 29% of vice president’s and 19% of C-suite executives.

Make no mistake, I have my eyes set on becoming one of the 19%, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get there, but who wouldn’t like an equal shot at the top? As the issue of gender parity comes to the forefront, now more than ever, companies will be searching for a strong pool of female talent from business schools across the globe. One of the reasons I chose Simon is their commitment to supporting a strong female population and to diversity in general.

Simon women at the Forte MBA Leadership Conference in Austin, TX.

Simon women at the Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference in Austin, TX.

I am a first-year MBA student at Simon, and already I have been afforded several opportunities to get involved with women and organizations that have helped catapult my internship search. Most notably, I have felt serious support from Simon’s partnership with the Forté Foundation, a national organization with a mission to help women find fulfilling careers through business education and networking opportunities.

I traveled down to Austin, Texas this summer with several of my classmates to attend the Forté Foundation MBA Women’s Leadership Conference. We were able to network with nearly 100 different companies that sent executives and recruiters from across the globe. During the day, we attended sessions with topics such as “Men as Allies” and “Building Your Board of Directors.” At night, companies hosted networking receptions, where lasting relationships were built among students from various MBA programs with similar career interests. After the conference was over, the Simon ladies decided to stay an extra day to soak up some of the “Keep Austin Weird” culture. We all bunked together in an Airbnb rental sleepover style, staying up way too late and laughing way too hard.

Every woman at Simon has the opportunity to join the national Forté organization, as well as the Simon Women in Business (SWiB) club, an organization specific to our school dedicated to supporting businesswomen both during their tenure at graduate school and in the years that follow. SWiB and Forté Ambassadors regularly host events together, like coffee chats and brunches where students, faculty, and Admissions and Office of Student Engagement staff join together to catch up on life. Brunch is personally one of my favorite activities of all time, so brunch on Park Avenue (a trendy local neighborhood)naturally made my b-school happiness highlight reel.

A group of us after brunch on Park Ave.

A group of us after brunch on Park Ave.

We’ve had a lot of fun as students, but we’ve also been working extremely hard to secure our internships for the summer. Through these networking opportunities, I’ve had a chance to engage with many second-year Simon students who have coached me through countless interviews and interactions with recruiters. I have landed a few internships offers so far, specifically because these ladies have offered their guidance. I feel tremendously fortunate.

When I think about what it means to be happy and successful as a woman in business, I think about the encouragement that helped to shape the woman I am today and the business leader I will become. As a Rochester native, I think of no better place to gain strength from the women around me. Not only is there so much support from the Simon community, but also from the Rochester community in general.

This election season, no matter who you voted for, the images of Susan B. Anthony’s grave, located in Mount Hope Cemetery (which borders the University of Rochester campus) were certainly powerful. Women lined up to place their “I Voted” sticker on Anthony’s grave as a sign of gratitude for her critical role in the woman’s suffrage movement. I am inspired by Susan B. Anthony, Nithya Ruff, and all the women before us who have paved the way, by schools like Simon, and by organizations like Forté that promote opportunity for women in the future. Most importantly, I am inspired by all women advocating for their own success every day.

Comments (1)

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  1. Joe Rinck says:

    I am very proud of this 2018 Simon MBA Candidate.