Women in Business: Report from the Trenches
Wharton Women in Business celebrated its 25th anniversary in November with a conference that focused on “Celebrating Achievements and Possibilities.” While a keynote presentation by Andrea Jung, chairman and CEO of Avon Products, confirmed the success that women are having in corporate America, panels entitled “Walking the Leadership Tightrope” and “Navigating through Interpersonal Conflict” suggested the challenges women still face in today’s tough business environment. In this special section, we cover Jung’s speech, the “Leadership Tightrope” panel and a second panel on “Building a Brand and Making Your Mark in the Luxury and Retail Sectors.” In addition, we include coverage of a talk on leadership given earlier this fall by Sarah Nash, vice chairman of investment banking at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
A recent poll of the Wharton Women in Business club asked members to list their “dream speakers” for this year’s 25th anniversary of the annual WWIB Conference. The person topping the list was Andrea Jung, chairman and CEO of Avon Products, the first woman ever to hold these positions at the company. WWIB members got their wish on Nov. 5 as Jung addressed a packed hall for the afternoon keynote session. Jung shared anecdotes from her career, described her strategy for expanding the reach of Avon Products, and offered advice on how to become a great leader who ensures the future success of women at the top of corporate America.
The economy may have been in a slump these last few years, but that hasn’t quenched consumer demand for luxury goods. The continuing trend of shoppers “trading up” has driven competition in the luxury retail sector to an all-time high, posing significant challenges for the moderator and five panelists on the “Building a Brand and Making Your Mark in the Luxury and Retail Sectors” panel at the 25th Annual Wharton Women in Business (WWIB) Conference on November 5. The group discussed how to form a branding impression in a crowded market; the importance of creating a brand identity that resonates with customers; changing notions of beauty and luxury, and the difficulties involved in maintaining a luxury brand online.
As the popular press continues to run articles about women ‘opting out’ of the competitive corporate world, many people are joining the debate over what it takes for women to succeed in corporate America today. So it was no surprise that one of the most crowded sessions at the recent Wharton Women in Business conference was the panel on women and leadership, in which panelists and moderator tackled the thorny issue of whether women truly do work and lead differently than men.
Wall Street firms need to tone down the aggressive, superstar culture of the financial industry, according to Sarah E. Nash, vice chairman of investment banking at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., in New York. Leadership, she told Wharton students during a talk on campus earlier this fall, means an individual’s ability to realize it’s not about ‘me’ anymore. Nash also spoke about cranky bosses and why she learned to drink stingers.