Undoubtedly, this has been the best Women’s Breakfast I have been able to attend. Elena Donio, President of Concur, was definitely a highlight. It is rare to encounter a powerful, business leader who is able to deliver a speech eloquently, seamlessly, with so much personality and realism. It is even more difficult to find one who is a woman. Elena is a force to be reckoned with, not only for her background in consulting – which made her tough, creative, and persistent, but also for her passion for people, and for empowering the next generation of female business leaders. After her speech, she went around to every table and talked to everyone! Students and employers alike appreciated her vulnerability in depicting the struggle she went through trying to balance “life and work.” Elena was able to tell a story, sprinkled with nuggets of wisdom and advice. We all felt like we wanted to be best friends with Elena at the end of her speech. We wanted her to know we felt the same way, had the same fears and insecurities, and we were in awe of the powerful, fearless woman she embodies – and we all hope to become.
A couple points that stand out for me: Elena encouraged us to “live loudly” in whatever capacity we may choose outside of the workplace. Show your passion for life and for work. In response to the question: “do you ever feel like the token woman at the table?” She said she didn’t care because she was still at the table. She emphasized how why you get there isn’t as important as what you DO once you are there. Her philosophy is even if she was the token woman, no matter what she was still going to do her job, and use her voice. I loved that since it is so applicable to women, minority groups, etc. and is a great point of view.
It almost goes without saying that her words provided a great conversation at our individual tables. I sat with representatives from Nordstrom and met two wonderful women from the recruitment department. They were approachable and eager to talk with us about what Elena spoke about, and their own journeys, their company, and about ourselves. One of the recruiters sent all of us LinkedIn requests as we were still seated around the table, debriefing about the event. I came away from the event feeling empowered, confident, and ready to take the business world by storm! I also felt strongly about doing as Elena, and the other employers there did, to come back and support upcoming women in business as well. I cannot wait to see what UWiB and Career Services have up their sleeve for the 5th Annual Women’s Breakfast, but it is for sure to say that it will be one not to be missed.
This post was written by Foster student Anda Christian.