By Aryatara Shakya and Kristen Maikoo
Photo by Leslie Luna
In the Fortune 500, there are “23 women out of 500,” as Susan Cameron, President and CEO of Reynolds American Inc. mentioned in her speech. According to Pew Research, 5.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEO’s are women. In a male-dominated workforce, professionals speaking during the conference encourage Salem students to continue to pursue professional leadership positions. “I’m going to talk about climbing the corporate ladder,” continued Cameron. “…and that is a very trite phrase. It’s more like climbing the corporate rock wall, and I try to do that while wearing a very nice pair of open-toed pumps.”
Held in Elbertson Fine Arts Center on Oct. 17, the event kicked off with a speech from Cameron, the keynote speaker.
Jacqueline Mairena, a 2015 graduate of Salem said, “Since I just graduated, I still think that it’s important to continue building your assets. I think it’s really important to listen carefully to some of what the speakers are saying because it applies really well to whatever you’re going to be in.”
Mairena related to a topic discussed in Founder of Identity Capital Consulting Angela Wilder’s speech. Wilder’s session, entitled “Present Yourself,” detailed how to build and protect a personal image. Mairena said, “Working for the school system, it’s really important to not gossip and I just related to that speech. I was, like, yeah, that’s definitely true. You want to always keep it professional,” said Mairena.
This is the second year in which the Career Expo, an opportunity for attendees to network with representatives from various companies and organizations, was coordinated in conjunction with the conference. Monica Boyd, Director of Student Professional Development, said, “The expo has been a really great new add of touch. People were excited. The employees were very excited to participate and students like that additional touch.”
Angelica Leonides, Chief Sales & Career Fair Chair, who has been involved in planning the conference for two years, said that the organizing committee tried to improve the experience this year based on last year’s feedback.
Leonides said, “When you work behind the scenes, you face different problems and situations where you just have to organize unexpected events and just try to go with the flow and somehow deal with it as well as balance school works and doing calls, attending people at the same time and get people to come.” She has cherished the entire experience of being a part of it and encourages students to take part in it regardless of what major they pursue. She adds, “I learned a lot. I learned how to communicate amidst professional people and how to put yourself out there!”
Following the morning keynote, throughout the day, there were three breakout sessions, including Prep-Talks during which current and former professionals from a range of fields were accessible to attendees in more intimate settings. Finally the daylong event was concluded with prize drawings as the attendees clutched raffle tickets in the hopes of winning an iPad, or another prize
As Wilder said, “If there is one word I had to describe about the conference, it would be ‘phenomenal.’ It’s wonderful to see such dynamic women who are clear about their purpose, maybe not their career choices, but they have a purpose and they are here with a plan to make a difference.” Boyd said, “Especially being a women’s school, a women’s conference makes sense to kind of take ownership of that.”