The NAWMBA Experience


First & Second year Smith MBAs with SAWMBA alums at the “Lets get in formation” series.

Connect with Confidence- that was the theme for the 39th National Association of Women MBAs annual conference and career fair. Six Smith women traveled to Connecticut to engage with professionals and students from around the nation. As part of the programming, MBA students had a variety of opportunities for professional development to choose from- LinkedIn Trainings and resume reviews to panels hosted by women entrepreneurs.

NAWMBA tackled the challenges women face in the workplace with panels like “The Secrets to Cashing In,” “Mind the Gap: Women in the Workplace,” “Women Making Their Mark in the Military,” “Managing Your Energy,” “Does Having It All Exist in the Workplace,” and many more. It was the perfect opportunity for the Smith Women to reflect on their experiences and exchange ideas with other MBA women.

SAWMBA also joined Smith Alumni Sherika Ekpo, Martine St. Vill, & Kristen and the Smith Office of Women & Diversity Programs for the Smith Sponsored “Speak Up & Get In Formation: Let Your Voice Be Heard.” This session challenged the unconscious and habitual, “I’m Sorry,” provided guidance on owning the traits often perceived as “aggressive,” and offered tactics to counter the classic “man-splaining” in the boardroom.

The conference reinforced the idea of supportive networks for women “It was amazing to share strategies with other NAWMBA chapters…I’m really looking forward to connecting with several female entrepreneurs who can hopefully help me as I flush out some of my own ideas,” said Alison Scharman, SAWMBA President.

It also offered several opportunities for Smith Women to reflect on their personal journeys, reinforcing that we do not need to “act like men” to succeed. Ebony Harley, VP of External Affairs shares her reflection, “When we subscribe to that attitude we give away…the power that exists in just being who we are and our unique attitudes and experiences. This weekend I was affirmed that being a smart, driven woman is more than enough to be successful in business.”

Working women, oftentimes fail to prioritize their personal needs. Brittani Hardsky, one of the first-year board members, attended “Managing Your Energy” for guidance to self-care. “As a graduate student, I find myself pushing the things that make me happy or feel better to the bottom of my to-do list, and when I do take time for them it leaves me feeling guilty. The session reminded me to exercise, meditate, and eat healthy if they are things that I enjoy.”

Aside from getting to know the rest of the SAWMBA board, Janna Fernandez took full advantage of the conference to learn about what was happening different industries. “At the beginning, the Keynote speaker advised us to choose panels outside of our comfort zone, which I adopted immediately. I found myself exploring careers in industries that I would never have considered otherwise. It was refreshing to see women who have it all – they’ve found the balance where their passions and careers meet.”

Next year, NAWMBA will be celebrating their 40th year hosting the 2017 Conference “Changing the World of Work, Once Conversation at a Time” in Chicago, Illinois. SAWMBA would like to thank the Smith Alumni and Sharon Strange-Lewis, the director of the Office of Women & Diversity Programs for this incredible opportunity.

Janna Fernandez

I am a first-year MBA/MPP Candidate at the University of Maryland, Robert H. Smith, School of Business. I enjoy exploring new places and meeting new people. My blog will give you insight on my B-school experience, as well as how I, an island girl (from Guam), acclimate to the coming winter.For questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions email:

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