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Student Stories

Top Women Leaders #breakthefuture at the 5th Annual Forbes Under 30 Summit

"We’re here today for a day of inspiration, education, and empowerment."

With a brief introduction, Samantha Saperstein, head of Women on the Move at JPMorgan Chase & Co., set the Women@Forbes: Closing the Investment Gap event in motion. The best and brightest of women leaders, game-changers, and stakeholders convened at the Innovation and Design Building in Boston’s Seaport District on the first day of the annual Forbes Under 30 Summit. As a USC Iovine and Young graduate student and Forbes Under 30 Scholar, I was fortunate enough to secure an invitation to this groundbreaking event.

A variety of entrepreneurial women spoke on diverse panels at the exclusive Women@Forbes event including Whitney Wolfe Herd (founder and CEO of Bumble), Jessica Matthews (founder and CEO of Uncharted Power), and Rica Elysse (founder and CEO of BeautyLynk). Panel topics focused on exchanging ideas along with providing solutions and guidance to real-life problems commonly encountered by female founders. I learned about subjects like Mindful Ambition, The Future of Work, and How to Open [My] Own Door. I had compelling conversations with women (and men!) from around the world and I met the women leaders who are setting the stage for future generations to come. Throughout the intense day-long event, a few themes especially resonated with me.

Moderator Ruthie Ackerman addresses panelists Karissa Bodnar (founder & CEO, Thrive Causemetics), Jean Brownhill (founder & CEO, Sweeten), Ooshma Garg (founder, Gobble), and Jessica Matthews (founder & CEO, Uncharted Power) at the Under 30 Summit's Women@Forbes "Closing the Investment Gap" event. 

Photo Credit: Tegan Cramer

The Value of Youth

As a young adult entering the workforce out of college, the age gap in a workplace can often be intimidating. Instead of finding my place as a full-time employee, I frequently felt like an intern still seeking the advice and direction of senior colleagues. As young female founders of successful companies, many of the speakers at the Women@Forbes event faced the same self-doubt during their respective journeys. Although, they weren’t entering companies, they were building them. Through trial and error, these women learned the value of youth and the benefit of being underestimated. Running in invisible mode means less eyes on you during the most critical moments of your career. Jessica Matthews said, “the best thing that ever happened to me was being underestimated.” Viewing youth as an asset, and not something to overcome, is a catalyst for disruption. The experience and insight that comes from younger generations is groundbreaking just because it is new.

The Importance of Balance

How we choose to spend each day defines us. As a generation of movers, shakers, influencers and creators, maintaining a balanced lifestyle can routinely fall to the bottom of the to-do list. In a panel focused on mindfulness, Aditi Nerurkar (Integrative Medicine Physician, Harvard Medical School) suggested to try and, “create a lifetime in a day.” Incorporating work, family, vacation, solitude, and all other wants and needs in a single day can help to stay balanced and remain in touch with the things that make you happy. Between working full-time, traveling for educational opportunities, completing my graduate degree, training for a half-marathon, and spending time with my family, friends, and dogs, life can get a little messy. When we focus on the smaller parts that make up each day, we’re more mindful of each minute spent and memory made.

The Secret to Conquering Challenges

Rejection can be soul-sucking. Whether you’re pitching a business to investors or interviewing for your dream job, opening yourself up to critique can be a significant obstacle to success. Although, it doesn’t have to be. Rather than being something to cope with, the answer “no” can be a lesson of tact and another step closer to “yes.” Resilience is an important skill to have and to practice. In order to open your own door, time after time, Anarghya Vardhana (Partner, Maveron) recommends simulating a challenge. Pick something that creates the simulation of an obstacle but where the stakes are low. For example, the half-marathon I’m training for isn’t something I do often. It’s an attempt to kickstart a healthier lifestyle and it’s a hurdle that will help me push through other challenges in life. By starting where the stakes are low, we can condition ourselves to face challenges as a practice and rejection as a routine.

Christina Vuleta, vice president, of Women@Forbes, interviews Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of Bumble. Photo Credit: Tegan Cramer

Women@Forbes focuses on building a community of diverse and driven women in order to create a collective power with a unifying goal to #breakthefuture. In her closing keynote presentation, Whitney Wolfe Herd reminded the audience that “we are still living in a very disempowered ecosystem” and “for too long women have been perceived as less...enough is enough.” One way to start moving toward change is conversation. The dialogue throughout the day left me feeling inspired, educated, and empowered. Through an information-packed day of panels and spotlights, Women@Forbes set the tone for an amazing weekend at the annual Forbes Under 30 Summit.

Tegan Cramer is a graduate student studying Integrated Design, Business, and Technology at the USC Iovine and Young Academy. Previously, she studied communication with an emphasis on interpersonal communication / language and social interaction. She has also worked as an administrative role for nearly five years in the fields of non-profit, real estate, and technology.

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