Alumnae share advice with students at inaugural Women's Leadership Conference
By Steve Seepersaud
Early in her career, Lisa Abbott, MBA '93, was someone who would raise her hand, but only halfway. She felt nervous about speaking up in business meetings for fear of saying something wrong or being told "no."
She recently asked a group of female students if they had trouble being assertive or confident. Some of them raised their hands, but only halfway.
Putting fear aside and not taking negative outcomes in the workplace personally were just two pieces of advice Abbott gave to students when she spoke at the Alumni Association's inaugural Women's Leadership Conference, held on campus March 14. More than 30 students attended the event, receiving career advice from successful alumnae in a variety of fields.
Abbott, chief human resources officer and associate vice president for human resources for health affairs at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State University, said women new to the workforce are often modest to a fault and reluctant to seek out new assignments or promotions because they don't want to be rejected.
"We say that people should recognize how great we are and pick us," Abbott said. "Then, it doesn't happen and we get mad. The alternative is that we have to self-promote and that makes many people uncomfortable because it feels like boasting."
Sabrina Housh Moldt '10, an elder law attorney at the Binghamton-area firm Levene, Gouldin & Thompson, said women shouldn't waste energy feeling envious of peers who seem to have it all because their father owns a business and they are guaranteed a job after graduation.
"Your experiences along the way can shape you," Moldt said. "Finding a career you love is like finding the love of your life. You date around and let yourself evolve. When I was eight, I thought I wanted to be an astronaut. But I like public speaking and researching, and wanted a job where I could use those skills."
In her welcoming remarks, Catherine Frankenbach, a fifth-grade teacher at Roosevelt Elementary School in Binghamton, shared the difficulties she encountered when looking for a teaching job after relocating from Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley to Western New York. Although there were nearly a thousand applicants for every single position, she didn't give up. She approached the owner of a tutoring business and asked for a job, then leveraged that part-time position to gain a full-time teaching job. She had to, once again, find a way to rise above the competition after relocating from Buffalo to Binghamton in 2012.
"I called the principal at Roosevelt and asked if I could be a volunteer," Frankenbach said. "Eventually, a position became open and I was hired. I attribute my success to my ability to create an opportunity."
Doris Braun '83, CEO of DB Leadership Group, LLC; Elizabeth Carter '77, MBA '93, assistant vice president for student development at Binghamton University; Nicole Sirju-Johnson, MPA '99, PhD '11, the University's associate chief diversity officer; and Kishan Zuber '01, MA '07, assistant dean of the Graduate School, also made presentations to the students in attendance.
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