Reflections on the Wharton Women in Business Summit
Women sharing insight, supporting one another, exchanging ideas, inspiring and uplifting others.
It’s kind of our thing.
It ignites the MBAchic team’s passion to share stories that matter, to educate, inspire, connect and enable our growing, global network of ambitious professionals. So whenever we are presented with opportunities to gather in person and have important, change-making conversations that help more women make their way into the C-suite and into leadership positions – count us in.
MBAchic Founder and Editor Jeneta Hot was honored to serve as Moderator for the Above The Status Quo panel discussion at the 2022 Wharton Women’s Summit. Wharton Women in Business members attended the event themed Still: We Rise at the University of Pennsylvania campus with a simple goal – connecting. Through thought provoking conversations and honest perspectives, the group worked towards advancing gender empowerment and spreading knowledge.
“It was inspiring to hear from women who are blazing a trail in their respective fields, about what’s been key to their success, and how they make space for the women who will follow them. It was an honest discussion that shared a view into how they approach their career progression, what they prioritize, and what may or may not be different for them as a woman in their field.” Hot shared.
An inspiring panel of women represented a range of industries at the event. From finance, to consulting, sports to tech and healthcare, directors, managers, and VPs shared their experiences and professional journeys. The conversation centered around creating spaces for women in traditionally underrepresented industries and careers. The goal of the event was to create a forum to build connections, build community and encourage and support attendees to pursue careers in these fields.
Read on to learn more about the panelists and gain some of their valuable takes on their career paths, leadership styles, and rising above the status quo to succeed.
Jennifer Kopylov, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs
Jennifer is a managing director in the Consumer Retail Group (CRG) and a member of the Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) Group. She is head of M&A for CRG and leads the CRG principal investing efforts. She serves as co-chair for the Investment Banking Division Council for Advancement of Racial Equity. Jennifer previously served as sector captain for the food retail and food distribution sectors. She joined Goldman Sachs as an associate in 2009 and was named managing director in 2017.
On balancing being true to yourself throughout your career:
“I’ve come to really appreciate that we’re all just incredibly unique people and that I can acknowledge and agree that I have the opportunity to be better of myself, but perfection is not a real standard. I honestly cannot be somebody else,” reflects Kopylov. “Every human being I think is incentivized to present a version of themselves that they believe at any moment is the most advantageous version of themselves. Beneath that persona, there is so much that I don’t know and I don’t see. So I try not to spend a lot of my head space worrying about the politics of anything at work. Not because it doesn’t matter, but because there’s only so much attention I can give to different topics at the same time. If I’m spending the time focused on the politics of things, then I’m not spending the time actually focused on the things that I should be.”
Lacy Ketzner, Managing Director & Partner, BCG, Philadelphia
Lacy Ketzner is a Digital Topic Leader and core member of Boston Consulting Group’s Global Advantage, Industrial Goods, Strategy, and Operations practices. Since joining BCG in 2007, Lacy has worked on a wide range of strategy and marketing projects, primarily in the industrial goods and retail sectors. She also has extensive experience in procurement and supply chain strategy, consumer research, and big data and data analytics. Notably, she led a supply chain strategy project for a large aerospace and defense company focused on leveraging big data, and a big data diagnostic for a multibillion dollar industrial goods company focused on identifying sources of margin compression.
On balancing being true to yourself throughout your career:
“Being true to yourself is tough. Right out of undergrad I felt a pressure to conform to some extent,” recalls Ketzner.
She decided she didn’t want to try to fit into societal expectations and she wanted to express herself her own way, whether that meant exposed tattoos or proudly rocking purple hair.
“I’m not going to dress to make people uncomfortable, but I’m also not going to dress to be uncomfortable myself. I had purple hair, I got zero comments…obviously that’s a culture of where I work [and] doesn’t marry up to every situation and every client, every culture, but I think a lot of the pressure I was putting on myself.”
“I’ve always thought of leadership style as uniquely personal,” says Ketzner. “So it’s not really man versus woman for me, I work a lot in the DOD space. So that leadership style is cookie cutter, man or woman. It’s demanding control, project out very loud, very distinct. What I’ve found is, I’m not a pound the table walk in and tell everyone exactly what to do [person], that’s just not my style. What BCG has been very good about is trying to give training on how do you work across a different set of communication styles. So whereas that natural leadership style for me is more listening before deciding on a path forward, it’s been helpful in my experience to get exposed to people who are totally on the other side of the spectrum.”
Leslie Reyes, Customer Success Segment Lead for Digital Services at Komodo Health
After several client-facing roles in technology start-ups and mid-size companies, Leslie earned her MBA from The Wharton School with a concentration in Marketing and Entrepreneurial Management. While in business school, she started her own IT staffing company, Road Warriors Consulting Solutions. She decided to gain global experience and joined GE Healthcare Life Sciences as a Strategic Accounts Manager and advanced to lead the US and Canada Customer Service teams. Wanting to get back into more agile early-stage technology companies, Leslie became Director of Customer Success at Celmatix. She returned to marketing and sales operations consulting and worked with technology start-ups for several years before becoming Director of Healthcare Investments at Mercury Ventures. Currently, Leslie is the Customer Success Segment Lead for Digital Services at Komodo Health.
On leadership style and the differences (if any) between male counterparts:
“If I had to describe a style I identify with, it’s to be a servant leader. As a leader I need to determine, by situation, what my team needs. You have to be comfortable in situations where you need to tell [your team] what to do; and in other situations, it’s about understanding what they need in order to be successful.”
“It’s more person-related, than anything, rather than related to gender… it’s not so black and white… it’s about understanding different styles and what each individual team member needs. “I’m comfortable being in the background, and allowing my team to shine.”
Melissa Christian, VP, Divisional Merchandise Manager, DICKs Sporting Goods
Melissa Christian currently serves as Vice President, Divisional Merchandise Manager at DICK’S Sporting Goods. In this role, Melissa is responsible for successfully developing and executing the merchandising strategy for youth apparel. She is also a member of the board of directors for Special Olympics Pennsylvania. Melissa joined the company in 2014 as Manager of the Women’s Initiative, and she has held numerous roles of increasing responsibility during her tenure.
On evolving throughout a career and creating a leadership style compared to male counterparts:
“When I was young in my career, I tried to not ask questions because I was so fearful that I would look stupid, that someone would be like, why are you here? I was very intimidated. As I’ve gotten more mature, I ask all the dumb questions,” says Christian. “Often [a question I ask my team] is basic, but because people who’ve had experience gloss over it they miss a key detail and as they’re even answering me, they’re like, oh wait a minute, we should stop and think about this too.”
“I’ve struggled with confidence more so than many of my male counterparts, but it also I think has really formed a leadership style that I’ve earned respect almost from a servant-leadership standpoint, from my team. [It’s] definitely made me more confident in a way to own things that I don’t know.”
Zoddy Imoisili, Wharton MBA Class of 2023 and VP of Content, Wharton Women’s Summit, reflects on the experience planning and executing this year’s Summit (in her #MBAchicTakeover she shared she was looking forward to bringing the Wharton Women’s Summit to life)
“I was so proud to be VP of Content for such an amazing women empowerment experience! As a part of Wharton’s first over parity MBA class and with everything that has happened in the world since beginning my business school experience, curating our summit theme as a tribute to Maya Angelou’s poem and connecting with alumna and leaders within the community was truly an honor.
Despite everything, still, we rise!”
MBAchic continues to recognize the vital importance of uniting women, industry leaders, and employers for continued inspiration, learning opportunities, and allyship. Whether or not you are able to physically attend an event like the Wharton’s Women’s Summit, we hope you start a progressive conversation within your organization, team, or community as we continue to work towards creating spaces for women in traditionally underrepresented industries and careers.
Have questions for the panelists we introduced you to above? Reach out to them on MBAchic online, or find them on social. If you’re interested in sharing your own insight, your MBA journey or career path, consider hosting your own #MBAchicTakeover or guest contributing on MBAchic.com. Read more about how you can get published on MBAchic here.
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Photos by Santos Tella // The Wharton School, Wharton Women in Business (WWIB) and MBAchic