Last week, Graduate Women at MIT held our annual Leadership Conference, with the theme “Lady Bosses: Women in Leadership and Entrepreneurship.” We had a blast organizing and attending this conference. The conference committee, led by the fearless Chairs, Nil and Mahsa, was a great group of grad and post-doc women who poured their heart into this awesome week of events.
The week started with an opening keynote by Christine Souffrant Ntim, a fabulous entrepreneur featured in this year’s “Forbes 30 Under 30”, among other accolades. She had some beautiful advice for us, including her main tagline – not “Follow Your Passion”, but “Follow Your Patterns”. She advocates auditing your life to find out where your true strengths and interests lie and letting those lead you to your next goal, whether for a new business or any venture.
Other events included Movie Night, with PBS documentaries about Women in Politics and Women in Business, panels on “Succeeding in Male-Dominated Fields” and “Changing the World Through Entrepreneurship”, popular workshops with knowledgeable mentors on “Taking Control of a Meeting” and “Negotiating Your First Job Offer”, and a mixer with MIT alumnae.
In fact, alumnae were involved in almost every event during the conference. We sent an email out to members of Alumnae Association’s and AMITA’s email lists, and we were shocked at the number of responses we got from amazingly qualified women who wanted to help us! It makes me excited about the culture of MIT and the appeal of GWAMIT to know how involved our alumnae are.
Finally, the week ended with a closing keynote by (another alumna!) Nidhi Kulkarni, Co-Founder and CTO of Spitfire Athlete, a strength training app for women that focuses on helping women achieve their athletic goals (no weight loss talk here!). Nidhi’s talk was one of my favorites – she went into some real detail about the process of building her company from the perspective of an engineer-turned-entrepreneur. She talked about the decisions she and her co-founder made along the way, from business models to growth rates, and about the culture for women entrepreneurs in tech in Silicon Valley. After her talk, we hosted a strength training class with MIT Recreation and all got a little bit stronger.
I hope some of you were among the hundreds of people who attended our conference! Thank you so much to our sponsors and participants: Graduate Student Council, POWER, the ODGE, Venture Mentoring Service, and all our speakers and panelists!