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Alumnae discuss global business experiences

Rachel Taback’s views on leadership in business have changed significantly during her time at Northeastern.

“As a freshman, I viewed being a leader as being high up in a company, as opposed to having leadership qualities,” said Taback, DMSB’14, MS’15. “But through my co-op experiences, the professors I’ve met, and the connections I’ve made, I think leadership is more about being able to motivate other people and having a passion for what you’re doing so that you can inspire that same passion in others. Leadership can come from any level of a company, and it’s within yourself to motivate the people around you.”

She added, “I always thought that leadership was something far away, because I thought I had to be a president before I could be a leader. Now leadership is something I’m trying to take a hold of and grow as I ascend throughout my career.”

Taback was one of three alumnae panelists who spoke at the latest installment of the Women who Inspire Speaker Series, which was held Tuesday in Dodge Hall. The other panelists comprised Karla Rossetti Pippins, MBA’95, founder and president of Riverside Wealth Management, and Dani Wojdyla, DMSB’14, a securities analyst at Goldman Sachs and a member of Northeastern’s Young Global Leaders. Their discussion was moderated by business executive Dr. Patricia Cotter, EMBA’93, who has led successful IPOs for Netezza in 2007 and for Visual Networks in 1998.

Many of the attendees were current Northeastern students, alumni and professionals from companies including National Grid, MetLife, and Hyperion

The speaker series was created in 2013 to inspire the next generation of female thought leaders and provide direct access to industry professionals. The initiative also promotes individual networking and mentoring, and offers opportunities to learn from accomplished businesswomen presenting diverse points of view on leadership challenges and successes, career advice, innovation, and industry trends.

Attendees listen to remarks from the alumnae presenters at the latest installment of the Women who Inspire Speaker Series. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Attendees listen to remarks from the alumnae presenters at the latest installment of the Women who Inspire Speaker Series. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Early in the panel discussion, Cotter asked Pippins to discuss her experiences and thoughts on working in a male-dominated industry. “One of the most important things is confidence,” Pippins said. She urged students and young professionals to speak up in class, be more active in team meetings, and resist the urge to remain silent when not 100 percent confident in what they want to say.

Later, Wojdyla and Taback discussed their international experiences, particularly through Northeastern’s co-op program. Wojdyla worked on co-op for Goldman Sachs in London, an experience that broadened her global perspective through her interactions with people from many cultures. She also recently accepted a position at the securities lending desk at Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong, and on a recent visit to Shanghai was asked on a whim to run a meeting with eight French businessmen.

“I knew my bosses trusted me enough to run the meeting,” she said. “Looking back, it’s probably the best experience I’ve had thus far.”

Taback, for her part, will complete her master’s degree in international management this spring. As an undergraduate, she spent two years in Spain while working toward her dual degree program in international business from Northeastern and the Universidad Pontificia Comillas in Madrid. She worked on co-op at Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Center for Faculty Development and Diversity, and at IFEMA-Feria de Madrid, where she helped coordinate large-scale conferences and events for a variety of companies.

Her global experiences, she said, have provided her with opportunities to work across cultural boundaries and learn the importance of creating a welcoming environment when leading a culturally diverse team.

“Push yourself out of your comfort zone,” she added. “That’s where the majority of your growth comes from personally, professionally, and academically.”

During a Q&A, an audience member asked the panelists for advice on how to set yourself apart at your job in order to advance your career. Wojdyla suggested proactively seeking out projects that can improve the company, even if it’s something as basic as automating a manual task. Taback emphasized the value of networking, and Pippins noted the importance of “the elevator speech” and being able to clearly communicate your goals and needs at work.

Another attendee asked about mentors, with a particular interest in how to identify them. Wojdyla said it’s helpful to have multiple mentors who can provide advice in different areas of your professional and personal life. Cotter added that it is important to cultivate both mentors and sponsors—the latter being those who can help you get a job or speak on your behalf when you’re not in the room.

“A mentor may or may not be able to do that, and a lot of times a mentor outside of your field will give you really honest feedback,” Cotter said.

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