CWIB Newsletter – Spring 2008

Editors: Janice Schrettner ’08 & Nehal Kenia ’09

About CWIB  |  Sponsors    

A Message from CWIB’s Outgoing President

Jennifer Camac ’08

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the spring 2008 Columbia Women in Business (CWIB) newsletter.  This has been a terrific semester for CWIB, and we are very happy to share with you some of the exciting events CWIB hosted for students and alumnae this spring.

In late February, CWIB celebrated its 15th annual Conference. Over 700 women gathered in Lerner Hall to hear from distinguished panelists and keynote speaker Andrea Jung, Chairman & CEO of Avon Products, Inc.  The event, which featured student-moderated panels, carried on the rich tradition of bringing women together for an entire day to discuss the unique personal and professional issues that we face.

Beyond Conference, CWIB also expanded the breadth of workshops available to students this semester.  These included an evening on financial planning, hosted by State Farm Insurance, with Cindy Hounsell, President of the Women’s Institute for Secure Retirement, and an interactive lunch workshop entitled “Why Can't A Woman Talk More Like A Man - And Vice Versa,” hosted by ING, with professional communications coach Raleigh Mayer.  Other highlights included partnering with the Media Management Association to bring Lauren Zalaznick, President of Bravo Media and Oxygen Media, and Alexis Glick, Anchor of “Money for Breakfast” and VP, Business News, Fox Business Network, to campus.    

On the alumnae front, CWIB organized an evening of cocktails and private shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue in late April.  Over 150 students and alumnae gathered to mingle with friends, both old and new, and to support the non-profit organization Dress for Success.  We look forward to sponsoring similar events in the future that will help alumnae stay connected to the CWIB network.

As we step into summer, I would like to thank the current board members, an incredibly talented group of women, for their hard work and dedication to CWIB this year.  CWIB’s success reflects their efforts.  I would also like to thank all of the CWIB members and alumnae for their enthusiasm and participation, and the Columbia Business School administration for continuing to support our organization. 

It has been a true honor to serve as this year’s President of Columbia Women in Business.  Leading CWIB has been a highlight of my business school experience.  I am now pleased to introduce you to Brooke Reinders ’09, CWIB’s next President.  Brooke and the newly elected VPs for 2009 are planning another outstanding year for CWIB.

We hope you enjoy reading the spring newsletter and encourage you to visit our website at to learn about upcoming events, or to email us directly for more information on how to get involved.  On behalf of the outgoing CWIB board, I wish each of you an enjoyable summer!


Jennifer R. Camac
Columbia Business School, Class of 2008
President, Columbia Women In Business


CWIB Ends the Year in Style
by Nora Murphy ’08

CWIB Members at the End of Year Event

Shopping and Cocktails - What Better Way to End the School Year and Welcome Spring!   

On April 23, 2008, Columbia Women in Business was proud to host students and CWIB alumnae for an evening of private shopping, networking, and cocktails on the newly and beautifully refurbished shoe floor of Saks Fifth Avenue, in partnership with Diageo and Dress for Success, in New York City. The evening started off with a few words from CWIB and our partners.  Nora Murphy (CWIB VP Alumnae Outreach, CBS ’08), Megan Birdwell (Corporate Outreach, Saks), Tyler White (Diageo, CBS ’05), Suzanne Elliot (Dress for Success), and Jennifer Camac (CWIB President, CBS ’08) all welcomed the group of over one hundred-fifty students and alumnae to Saks.  During a particularly poignant speech, Suzanne Elliott shared a few words about Diageo’s Something to Share initiative where special scarves, beautifully designed by Sean Combs, were available for sale at the event and all proceeds support Dress for Success. 

While models mingled in the newest spring fashions and Bobbi Brown make-up artists touched up faces, guests sipped Smirnoff Pomegranate Martinis and made great use of a 25% discount in the entire store.  Marykate Meehan (CBS ’09) was the lucky winner of the evening’s raffle, taking home a $100 Saks gift certificate.  Overall, the evening was a great success.  The evening was planned in hopes of creating an event which would bring students and alumnae together in a way that was enjoyable for all.  Thank you to Saks, Diageo, Dress for Success, and especially to all of the Columbia Women in Business students past and present, for making this evening so enjoyable.

For more information about Diageo’s Something to Share initiative, please visit


Defining Success - 2008 CWIB Conference
Success… Your Way. Share your vision, Find your voice.

by Brooke Reinders ’09

2008 CWIB President, VPs and AVPs with Keynote Speaker
Andrea Jung
From L to R: Janice Schrettner '08, Jennifer Camac '08,
Kristie Wauthier '08, Andrea Jung, Stacey Beck '09,
Brooke Reinders '09, Jenny Ahn '08
Hundreds of students, alumnae, and other businesswomen now have the ability to follow the advice of one of the most powerful women in business.  Andrea Jung, CEO of the $8 billion Avon, passed on career tips and words of wisdom at the 15th Annual Columbia Women in Business Conference on February 22, 2008.

Ms. Jung emphasized the importance of being passionate and in love with a career and a company.  She has been the head of Avon for almost ten years.  She says she stays with Avon because she is fundamentally in love with her company and her work.  She illustrated that point by explaining why she stayed with Avon even after she was passed over for the CEO job.  She had CEO offers at other companies, but she turned them down.  “Follow your compass, not your clock,” said Ms. Jung. 

Besides having a passion for the job, Ms. Jung said women should have compassion, courage, humility, pride, and perseverance.  While the 650 people in the audience were mainly women, Ms. Jung’s advice easily applies to all business professionals. 

To drive home her point, Ms. Jung said that she traveled around the world to explain to managers why one-third of them would lose their jobs in a downsizing move.  She says that face-to-face contact resulted in workers who lost their jobs still respecting Avon and her leadership.

In addition to Ms. Jung’s keynote address, Conference participants also heard from a number of other women who exemplified this year’s Conference theme:  “Success Your Way…. Share your vision, find your voice.”  The 12th Annual Distinguished Alumna Award receipient, Melissa Marr, EMBA 2002, talked about combining her passion for social enterprise with her experience in the film and digital media industries.  She is now president of the Healing Project, a national non-profit that works to improve the quality of life for patients with life-threatening illnesses and chronic illnesses, and to help their caregivers and families as well.

Participants also had the opportunity to attend their choice of 15 different panels.  The topics ranged from a workshop on managing personal finances to tips for new managers.

“Feedback from the day’s attendees confirms that this year’s Conference has yet again raised the bar, and we couldn’t be prouder of the 39 amazing Committee members and countless volunteers for all their hard work,” said Kristie Wauthier, Conference Co-Chair.

The day wrapped up with a networking and cocktail reception.  The reception featured a number of food and drink samples, including some from businesses owned by CBS alumnae.

This year we really wanted to tie all elements back to the day’s theme [Success your way…Share your vision, find your voice.],” said Jenny Ahn, Conference Co-Chair.  “Through our esteemed speakers – each with unique journeys and definitions of ‘success’, through showcasing the talented women of Columbia Business School as panel moderators, and through the sampling of gourmet food and wine at the reception we believe we succeeded.”

“Jenny [Ahn] and I can’t wait to attend next year’s Conference and hope that it will only continue to improve and inspire,” said Ms. Wauthier.


Concern for Hunger Run/Walk with Girls Inc!
by Mica Odom '09

CWIB Members w/Girls Inc. Participants

On Saturday, April 12, 2008, several dedicated CWIB members braved the weather to join hundreds of participants in Central Park to support Concern for Hunger’s programs targeting hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.  We walked together in a united effort to do something that will have an immediate impact, changing, or saving rather, the lives of the world's hungriest people.

CWIB was joined by Girls Incorporated, a national nonprofit youth organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.  With roots dating to 1864, Girls Inc. has provided vital educational programs to millions of American girls, particularly those in high-risk, underserved areas.  Today, innovative programs help girls confront subtle societal messages about their value and potential, and prepare them to lead successful, independent, and fulfilling lives.

As we walked and ate lunch with the girls, we discussed some of their career aspirations, as well as their personal struggles as underprivileged youth in New York City. 

We were all very impressed by how much each young woman knew about what she wanted to do when she “grew up” and how each of them were so motivated to become effective leaders in their chosen fields of interest.  In turn, the girls asked us questions about our interests, backgrounds, and professional goals post-graduation.  It was such an enlightening experience all around.  Our goal was for the girls to walk away feeling hopeful, inspired, and motivated to become leaders in whatever they choose to do in life.  After the walk, we received word that they truly enjoyed the experience and were ready to do it all over again next year – mission accomplished!

Special thanks to Deloitte Consulting for sponsoring the event in full.


State Farm Financial Planning Workshop
by Caroline Hossenlopp ’09

On March 18, 2008, State Farm Insurance sponsored a workshop dedicated to financial planning for women.  Guest speaker Cindy Hounsell, J.D, is the founder of WISER, the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (  She talked to a group of over 25 participants about what women need to do to prepare financially for the future.  At the heart of her talk -- which included an overview of financial planning and tips for how to think ahead -- was a simple but powerful message: "If I could tell you all to do one thing, it is to pay attention!"

As Hounsell explained, men and women alike tend to avoid thinking about financial planning.  But for women, the problem is compounded by another factor: time.  Because women tend to live at least eight years longer than men, their need for savy, long-term financial planning is even more critical. Unfortunately, many women are behind the curve instead of ahead of it.  The figures that Hounsell provided paint a stark picture: at age 65, there are 6.2 million more women than men; by 75, there are 4 million more and by 85, over 75% of the population in that age group is women.  And yet, with many years in front of them, the average size of a Baby Boomer’s 401K is only $48K (Hounsell estimates that basic health care costs alone exceed $200K).  As a result, Hounsell says, “many older women end up in poverty for the first time in their lives.  Finances weren’t something they thought about until it was too late.”

So, what can women do to make smart choices and be ready for retirement? Hounsell outlined advice around her key theme: Pay Attention.  As she said, the number one culprit undermining women’s financial planning is that many are on auto-pilot for too long.  Many women aren’t even aware of the state of their financial health, either because their husbands had been in charge of finances or simpy because they had handed things over to a financial advisor.  Hounsell offered these key tips to help women actively plan for their retirement, or what she encouraged the group to think of as “Your Future Paycheck”:

  • Seek out advice you trust: Don’t just pick a financial advisor because they’re a friend of the family.  Find out what their philosophy is, understand their fee structure, and ask lots of questions until you’re comfortable with an advisor.  The Association of Financial Planners can be a good source of information and recommendations too.

  • Dig for information: As Hounsell says, “Even in your 401K, know what you’re into!” Read annual reports, use your financial advisor, and understand the risk, the fees, and the structure of all of your investments.  Knowledge can give you piece of mind, but it also ensures that your portfolio matches your expectations and plans for the future.

  • The Three-Legged Stool: In thinking about retirement planning, Hounsell used a three-legged stool analogy to describe the basic retirement needs: income, long-term care, and medical and prescription drug coverage.  Most people underestimate the amount they’ll need to live on, especially around the cost of healthcare.  She urges people to look at their anticipated retirement income (from savings, pension plans and Social Security) and to be realistic about how much they will really need and what they need to save to get there.

  • Choose what you want to spend:  Hounsell mentioned that people had often given her the advice to “never do your nails or buy Starbucks.” While a smart saving plan is critical, Hounsell stressed the importance of also making room in your budget for fun.  As she sees it, the key is to “get your savings and retirement covered, and then spend the excess on whatever you want most.”  She said that people often feel discouraged about saving because they equate it to giving up their favorite things.  However, with smart planning, fun money becomes just that—money you can spend on whatever you really want, whether it’s travel, art, or yes, even Starbucks.



Student Spotlight: Lesley Elliot '08 & Jenna Trabulus '08
by Nehal Kenia ’09

Lesley Elliot '08

Jenna Trabulus '08
Lesley Elliot ’08 always knew she wanted to do something entrepreneurial upon graduating from an MBA program.  While her vision of the business she planned to start changed from opening a shoe store to ultimately going into real estate, the Entrepreneurial Greenhouse Program was the key selling point for her choosing to come to Columbia Business School.  The Greenhouse Program is a unique course designed to assist students with the final launch phase of their entrepreneurial ventures before graduation.  Lesley’s business partner, Jenna Trabulus ’08, worked in corporate America prior to attending business school and often found herself trying to implement her entrepreneurial ideas in a very conservative setting.  For her, the decision to participate in the Greenhouse Program came after taking many small steps to gain the courage and confidence necessary to start her own business.  Jenna’s journey began by taking ‘Introduction to Venturing’ and being part of a team that won 3rd place in the Outrageous Business Plan competition.  At that point, she was still searching for her own fresh idea and looking for a company that really got her excited.  This is when she enrolled in the ‘Launching New Ventures’ course and met Lesley. 

Lesley and Jenna exchanged ideas and quickly realized that they shared a similar vision about the company that they wanted to start.  Together, they successfully put together a business plan, presented it to the board, and were selected to partake in the Greenhouse Program.  The Greenhouse program gave both women a support network and mentors, which helped them determine the best way to get their business, EcoStruck, LLC, off the ground.  EcoStruck, LLC is a green real estate development company focused on creating small, sustainable office space in 2nd tier markets.  Lesley and Jenna’s goal for their company is to build branded buildings and obtain LEED (Leadership Energy & Environmental Design) certification, which is the standard set by the US Green Building Council (USGBC).  Currently, if you are an extremely large company like Google, Bank of America, or Wachovia, you are capable of building green buildings; however, on a smaller scale, doctors, lawyers, and other medium-sized practices have not been able to be part of this wave because they simply could not afford it until now.  EcoStruck, LLC remedies this issue.  Another unique feature that sets EcoStruck, LLC apart is that it’s a company that offers both development and consulting services to clients.  Many development firms focus most on the building; however, a significant portion of the costs involved in running a business are operational, so EcoStruck, LLC provides a full-service offering.  “Most firms want to build and walk away - we want to transform communities,” says Jenna.

The real estate business is typically a male dominated ‘boys club’, especially in EcoStruck, LLC’s initial target market, Charlotte, where they are currently working on their first building.  Part of this is to their advantage, because they are in the minority and therefore people notice them.  However, having access to certain resources has proven difficult, given the nature of development.  Tapping into this ‘boys club’ will be a key factor to their success in this project.  Moreover, while Jenna has experience in leasing and development, she realizes that it’s quite challenging to put a talented team together.  When Lesley and Jenna reflect on these issues and many other challenges they’ve faced thus far, they’re reminded of the unconditional support that they have received from the Greenhouse Program during various stages of launching their business.  They have leaned on and also met with people in the program, alumni, and faculty who may be potential partners for future projects.  Both women are especially grateful to Cliff Schorer and Brendan Burns, professors of the ‘Launching New Ventures’ class which helped lead them to where they are today.  Lesley says, “they have been some of the most outstanding mentors that I have had at CBS.  They are a great support system; it’s very easy to run into roadblocks in the beginning and they have always been there to lend us a hand and give us support and they are a huge reason why we’re still doing this.”

As both women search for answers to extremely difficult questions and grapple with what to do next, they push forward, believing that “if you are committed to an idea, you have to make it happen.”


Alumna Spotlight: Lindsay Schmid ’05
by Rachel Vessey ’09

Lindsay Schmid ’05

For many New York City residents, Fresh Direct has changed the way they shop for groceries.  The company sells groceries online and, for a modest delivery fee, delivers to residents of all five boroughs and suburban New Jersey and Westchester as well.  Lindsay Schmid, Class of 2005 is one of a handful of Columbia Business School alumni working at this young and growing company.

Prior to entering CBS, Lindsay attended Northwestern and then worked in consulting for four years.  She entered Columbia in order to build the skills and experiences she believed she needed to move toward a management path in the consumer products industry.  She spent her summer interning in strategy at American Express and took a full-time position there after graduation.

In 2007, Lindsay transitioned to her current position at Fresh Direct.  “I made the switch because I was looking to work in a small company, and to be responsible for helping to run a business,” she says.  She had been interested in Fresh Direct for a long time, and as soon as she began serious pursuit of a job there, she reached out to her Columbia network.  Before long, she came upon a posting listed on the alumni website by Fresh Direct’s Chief Marketing Officer, also a Columbia Business School graduate.

She was hired for this marketing position, and over the year since, her role has shifted as the company has grown and marketing channels have changed.  She is now responsible for customer segmentation, which includes everything from identifying and understanding the needs of unique segments to creating and executing strategies in order to grow sales within each segment.   

Lindsay credits her work with the Small Business Consulting Program and her experiences as an attendee at the CWIB Conference for inspiring her to seek an entrepreneurial position at a growing firm.  During her first year at school, she worked on a food-related project with an alumnus and entrepreneur who was building a business to offer cooking classes.  “This was one of the first times I was exposed to small business and to a food-related business.” 

Additionally, “The CWIB Conferences were always sources of inspiration for me, in terms of my switch to small business and something more entrepreneurial–SBCP first sparked that interest for me, which grew as I attended the CWIB Conference every year.  As I attended the panels and heard successful young alumni discuss the companies they were running, I felt inspired.  The CWIB Conference creates real energy, and I think it is amazing how that conference can motivate people to consider new paths, and provide them opportunities and contacts to explore those paths.”

When asked about the tools she gained at business school, Lindsay is quick to praise the value of her education.  “Columbia Business School gave me the confidence to know that I can try anything,” she remarks.  “I can go into an interview and say you should hire me, and here’s why.  Columbia pushed me out of my comfort zone over and over during two years—that sort of experience really makes you grow.”


About CWIB

CWIB Conference Reception, February 22, 2008

Columbia Women in Business (CWIB) is a professional networking organization with over 400 student members and thousands of alumnae. Each year, CWIB strives to provide programming that enhances the MBA experience by connecting current students with alumnae and companies that have paved the way for professional women and contributed to the growth of today’s business leaders. For more information about CWIB, please visit our website at


Our Sponsors

A special thank you to our sponsors for their continued support:

Acai Solutions
American Express
Aquent Marketing
Archstone Consulting
A.T. Kearney
Bank of America
Barclays Capital
Bear Stearns
Booz Allen Hamilton
The Boston Consulting Group
The Capital Group Companies
Colgate-Palmolive Company
Credit Suisse
Deutsche Bank
Fidelity Investments
General Electric
GE Energy Services
Goldman Sachs
Jefferies Company
Katzenbach Partners
Lehman Brothers
L.E.K. Consulting
McKinsey & Company
Merrill Lynch
Morgan Stanley
New York Times
Opera Solutions
Sanford Bernstein
Standard & Poor’s
State Farm Insurance


Alumnae Reminder

Please update your contact information frequently. Please visit the alumni website at to update your contact information as soon as it changes. It is our only way of reaching you. Also, be sure to stay in touch and check the calendar of alumni events on the alumni website.

We urge you to get involved! If you would like to get involved with the CWIB community, or have any questions, please contact CWIB at

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2007 Columbia Women in Business