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By: Lauren Beals

The newly formed DeGroote Women’s Professional Network wants to tap into the potential of bringing like-minded women together to work towards a common goal.

A collective of female leaders in the McMaster and DeGroote communities, the network is committed to bringing together passionate students, alumni, academics and local corporate partners to advance women in business and society.

Evolved from a breakfast series on women in business, the network was formally launched on Jan. 19 to a crowd of 200 attendees at the Burlington Ron Joyce Center.

Linda Morgan, President of the Clic Effect Inc., offered an exciting perspective on change management in a keynote address that included a four-step framework for change assessment and plenty of audience participation.

“It was a lot of fun,” said event coordinator and DeGroote School of Business Advancement Officer Kristine Leadbetter. “She looked at the different takes of people in the workplace and how they adapt to change. She also had the surprise element of dancing to demonstrate how when people are moving it is impossible to determine where they will go next and that unless you have a clear set of objectives you can lose focus from your ultimate goal.”

On a larger scale, the network hopes to tackle broader issues faced by women in professional settings through education and mentorship, laying to rest the storied “old boys’ club” of the corporate world. Encouraging woman to pursue leadership positions and nurturing ambition are also high priorities.

“[The network] is opening up the doors to have those conversations without needing a meeting with someone per say, that will hopefully encourage all woman to go for whatever it is that they want to do,” said Leadbetter.

On a larger scale, the network hopes to tackle broader issues faced by women in professional settings through education and mentorship. 

More often than men, women must juggle to prioritize education, work and family, a balance Leadbetter is confident mentorship will help create. “Being a part of the network means finding like-minded women. Whether you are in the time of your life when priorities are close to home or are solely focused on your career it is great to talk to women who are going through the same situation and see if they have solutions, tips or advice. Even just running ideas off of someone outside your core group of friends can be helpful.”

Leadbetter was also quick to specify that despite the network’s name, the events are not offered exclusively to women. “We do have men that attend our events which is totally fine. It is great to have men that support our initiative, it is a very important part of it actually.”

In addition to the launch event, a wide range of opportunities to become involved are currently available, including a “Knowledge@DeGroote” lecture series with industry leaders and cocktail networking evenings. Students are offered free event registration and are encouraged to attend not only for employment connections but also for career advice and exposure to seasoned perspectives. They can also connect with the network through social media and professionally online through LinkedIn.

However, for women in business the path to equality is still paved with many obstacles.

“We still have a way to go … a lot of initiatives right now are showing that there is change, but also that change is still needed,” said Leadbetter.

Photo Credit: Mike Lalich

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