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2024 WISE Summit will showcase entrepreneurs’ unique experiences
and authenticity

The annual summit will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 23, at ISEC on Northeastern’s Boston campus.

A neon yellow 'W' logo.
The theme of the 2024 WISE Summit is “embracing authenticity.” Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

When Charlotte Pick attended her first Women’s Interdisciplinary Society of Entrepreneurship event at Northeastern University as a freshman, she didn’t have a business idea.

“I wanted to explore that area and see if it could be a place for me,” says Pick, now a senior studying business and design.

WISE is a student-led group that brings together women and underrepresented individuals to encourage entrepreneurial thinking in all fields and industries.

Previous business experience isn’t required.

“I ended up realizing that entrepreneurship is a lot more beyond just founding your own business,” says Pick, who officially joined the WISE team in 2022 as a design coordinator and now leads the team organizing the 2024 WISE Summit.

Charlotte Pick, head of the 2024 WISE Summit team at Northeastern, says the summit is a chance to learn about the community, network and learn from incredible speakers and workshops. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

The annual summit — the biggest event of the year for WISE — will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 23, at the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex complex on Northeastern’s Boston campus.

The day will include speeches, workshops, lightning talks and panel discussions led by business founders, professionals and leaders.

Pre-registration is closed, but walk-ins are welcome. The ticket price is $40.

Diane Nishigaya MacGillivray, Northeastern’s senior vice president for university advancement, says WISE provides a supportive community that is not inherently competitive.

“The students themselves have been the drivers of this and to watch people who join WISE develop not just as entrepreneurs, but as human beings, leaders, people who have impact and who care about the experience of others has been phenomenal,” MacGillivray says.

The main goal of the summit, Pick says, is to foster community and to introduce women and those who are underrepresented to entrepreneurship and WISE’s innovative mindset.

Diane Nishigaya MacGillivray, Northeastern senior vice president for university advancement. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

The summit will highlight the many paths — some unconventional — that entrepreneurs may take. Some attendees might realize that, like Pick, they can get involved without already having their own venture.

“It’s a chance to learn how you can fit into that community and network with other individuals here, learn from incredible inspiring speakers and just gain those skills you need to maybe start your own venture or to feel more confident in whatever field you’re in,” Pick says.

The theme of this year’s summit is “embracing authenticity.” Pick says it means understanding that everyone can bring something special to an organization or project.

The keynote speakers are Lisa Sun of the Gravitas clothing brand, Yasmin Cruz Ferrine of venture capital firm Visible Hands, and ​​award-winning chef and entrepreneur Irene Shiang Li.

“We really made diversity our key focus this year, making sure that every person we’re reaching out to has a diverse perspective, that our participants can see themselves on the stage and they’re inspired by what these people are doing,” Pick says.

Sun is the founder and chief executive of Gravitas, which offers clothes for every body type and size. She’s also the author of a book by the same name.

Ferrine Cruz is a general partner and co-founder of Visible Hands, which funds and helps underrepresented founders launch their own startups.

Li is a James Beard award-winning chef, leader in the restaurant industry and co-founder of Mei Mei Restaurant Group. She also co-founded Prepshift, a food business consulting and training company.

The workshops cover such topics as personal finance and building wealth, balancing career and a side hustle, brand building in a taboo industry, and strengthening one’s mental health for success.

WISE was founded in 2018 by students Eliana Berger and Mia Nguyen. The organization is part of the Mosaic umbrella of entrepreneurial student-led organizations at Northeastern. 

WISE produced a support system that helped women and underrepresented individuals not only join entrepreneurial organizations at Northeastern, but rise to leadership positions in them, MacGillivray says.

“Since WISE was created, the number of women in the finals of the Husky Startup Challenge has increased exponentially,” she says. 

A team of about 30 students run WISE, which includes about 1,200 members and is open to students on all of Northeastern’s global campuses, including London and Oakland, California.

In addition to its WeLearn workshops that are open to the general public, WISE also offers three application-based programs for undergraduate students — WeSupport, WeBuild and WeLaunch. About 500 students go through the program every semester, Pick says.