Interview with the IE Women in Business President Kristina Miller
Women in Business Club President Kristina Miller talks about empowering women in the workplace, the privileged setting of the club’s Dinner Series and the need for more men to get involved.
What is the ultimate goal of the Women in Business Club?
The Women in Business Club aims to enhance equality in business leadership and to empower women to achieve their professional aspirations.
How does the Women in Business Club benefit IE Business School students?
The club tailors all of our events and initiatives to our main goals in an attempt to empower students to achieve their individual professional aspirations, whatever they may be. We do so through events such as personal development workshops, guest speakers and panels, the various networking events we host, our leadership conference, and more. Our members will form part of the next generation of female leaders, so we hope that our initiatives will help them feel empowered to grow themselves both professionally and personally and both now and in the future.
Who are some of the business leaders who will participate in the dinner series?
We have different speakers participating in each dinner. We’ve had a wide range of industries and companies represented from sustainability to luxury to marketing, finance, and tech. For example, for the upcoming Women in Strategy Dinner next week we have a Product Manager for Google, VP of Travel for MasterCard, and Head of Strategy for Foreo.
How do you select which leaders to participate? And what is the advantage they give to the attendees?
Given that each dinner is centered around a different sector, we aim to invite female senior executives from different industries, companies, and functions within these sectors. This gives a more holistic approach to the sector and allows for varying perspectives and experiences to be shared throughout the dinner. The attendees benefit from this in the sense that they can learn about the different backgrounds, experiences, and career paths from different women.
The dinners are a very intimate experience that allows the attendees to get to know each speaker and ask questions that they may not be able to ask in another capacity or setting.
The group is limited to 20 people (including speakers), so the dinners are a very intimate experience that allows the attendees to get to know each speaker and ask questions that they may not be able to ask in another capacity or setting. The speakers tend to share very personal anecdotes that they may not otherwise share at other, less-intimate networking events. This can give the attendees insights into each speaker’s personal path, career decisions, personal decision, experiences, and more.
What are some of the key initiatives you would like the business community put in place to empower women at work?
Closing the gender pay gap and making sure women are represented at the senior leadership level are obvious initiatives that all companies must prioritize in order to effectively empower their female workforce. However, empowering women at work comes in many forms and can vary from company to company and from woman to woman. I personally believe it’s crucial that senior leadership at any company take a holistic view at their current diversity and inclusion initiatives and determine what best makes sense for the company and its employees. There is no “one size fits all” solution, which is part of what makes this journey so complex.
For the Women in Business Club, one of our main priorities and goals this year is getting more men involved in the conversation and involved in our initiatives. We believe that in order to achieve impactful change in the future, this must be a two-sided conversation. We need the support of our male colleagues in order to make change moving forward. Our students, both male and female, are hopefully going to go on to become future leaders within companies. In order to effectively lead, they must understand issues such as diversity and inclusion and how to manage that within the workforce.
Does the club have any external partners?
We have partnered with a number of outside companies and are constantly in touch with other organizations. For instance, the Dinner Series is sponsored by MasterCard.
We also invite four female executives from different industries, different companies. Therefore, whether it’s inviting them to speak or to give a workshop, or just inviting them to participate in any of our events we are constantly working with outside companies.
What are some of the major women’s issues that come up?
We usually talk about confidence and assertiveness. It’s about women having the confidence to push themselves to the positions they want to be in. A lot of times it has happened that women often are not forward with what they want.
Also issues of finding the right fit within the companies is one of the other issues we usually talk about. Some companies are better at promoting the gender equality than others. It is therefore important to have a supportive work environment geared to helping your success.
What have been some of your highlights by being part of the club?
I always leave feeling very so energized and refreshed. The conversations that we have at the dinner series for instance are so motivational and inspirational. So one leaves feeling that you can do it and there’s support for that. And I think that most of the attendees take from these events.
We as students are still finding ways to navigate our careers. So speaking to women who have been where we are, is very energizing and reassuring.
What are some of the future prospects of the club?
We are having more projects which are fresh in the making. We are having a leadership conference coming up in the week of International Women’s Day. We shall have great speakers which is something to look forward to as a club.
And one of our ongoing goals is to have more men involved. We really believe gender equality is not only a women issue, but the society as a whole.
How has IE supported the club?
We are a student run club completely, however we work quite closely with the IE Women Initiative since many of our goals overlap. We also have an advisory committee which involves different departments at IE so they bring to the table their expertise and guidance. Campus life is also a huge source of support for us in terms of helping organize and strategize and collaborate for further reach among the IE community. So IE is a resource to us that way.