Women of Isenberg Conference two weeks away, already sold out

Nearly 450 individuals will be attending


(Collegian file photo)

By Jackson Cote, News Editor

More than two weeks away from its fifth anniversary, the Women of Isenberg Conference has already made a splash, selling all of its 440 seats for the first time in its short history.

The Women of Isenberg Conference will be held on Feb. 24, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and will host a large group of 54 female speakers. These 54 include business and tech leaders, some hailing from MassMutual, ESPN and even LEGO. A majority are alumnae of Isenberg and UMass, including the keynote speaker, Haliday Casey, a principal and chief operating officer at Bayforest Technologies, as well as an Isenberg alumna from 2003.

Unsurprisingly, the event is entirely run by women of Isenberg. As part of a seven-student planning committee, these women are charged with both the marketing and operations of the event and are provided with guidance from four faculty advisors.

The conference’s central mission: “to build a support network and community of empowerment for collegiate women in business.”

“Everybody’s so excited. It was definitely a team effort in the sell-out and promoting of the conference,” said Erin Messier, a senior management major and the president of the conference’s student planning committee. “We did a lot to promote it this year.”

The marketing efforts included thorough promotion via social media, four weeks of tabling in the Isenberg atrium and in the Campus Center and presentations to 400-person lecture halls.

“It’s super important to share what we’re doing and just kind of get the word out there and trying to get the word out to even other students throughout the UMass community to just let them know that it’s really open to anybody, male or female, and students outside of Isenberg,” Messier said.

Despite what the name may suggest, the event is open to both women and men and students with or without the Isenberg stamp. In fact, 20 percent of the conference’s 298 student attendees this year are not in Isenberg, Messier noted—a six percent increase from last year’s conference. Increasing the number of non-Isenberg students at the event was one of Messier and the entire planning committee’s main goals this past year in planning for the conference.

“We’re really excited we hit that goal,” Messier said.

Prior to applying for a role in the conference’s planning committee last year, Messier was part of Isenberg Women in Business, a club that “works to inspire and support” young female professionals and also co-launched the Women of Isenberg conference. After attending the 2016 conference, Messier joined the planning committee, assuming a marketing role.

“After attending it, I just thought how incredible and powerful it was to be able to go and speak to the alumni that were there, and even industry professionals, and hear about their experiences and advice,” Messier said. “I also loved kind of just having that community.”

She added: “I just thought it was very empowering to be able to connect with different alum, female alum, and hear about the challenges that they faced…either the challenges they faced in the workplace, the classroom, etcetera.”

As a new member of the planning committee, Rebecca Cooper, a sophomore finance major, is on the operations team. She noted that this year was particularly exciting, as it’s the first that the Isenberg School of Management has helped to sponsor and support the event.

The event has primarily been corporately sponsored, noted Alexandria Eisenhardt, a senior management major and the planning committee’s vice president of marketing. The conference has also been supported the past four years by Women for UMass Amherst, a network of alumni that that promotes the advancement of campus programs that provide access, support and opportunity for students.

“People always assume the school funds it, but we’ve always been corporately sponsored. Our first year, Target was our only sponsor,” said Eisenhardt. “And now, we’re lucky enough to have the support of several Isenberg departments and the [Isenberg Family Charitable Foundation.]”

However, this doesn’t mean the 2018 conference is lacking in corporate sponsorship. United Technologies, DCU Banking, TJX and many more have found their way under the conference’s lists of platinum, gold and bronze sponsors, and each of those corporate sponsors will be recruiting at the event, Cooper said. However, Eisenhardt noted that these companies’ representatives are not solely there to network; they want to get to know the student attendees as well.

“The alumni that come to the conference and the sponsors who come, it’s not a typical networking event. They all are genuinely there to make an impression on you and get to know you,” said Eisenhardt. “You go there timid and you leave knowing that you can do something.”

Editor’s note: The original version of this article has since been changed to correct the time of the event, the number of student attendees and the number of faculty advisors that the planning committee is guided by. It was also edited to include the mention of Women for UMass Amherst.

Jackson Cote can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @jackson_k_cote.