View from the C-Suite: Insights from Women Who Cracked the Glass Ceiling

On April 2, the women students in our MBA Sustainability program hosted an event that featured intimate conversations with three of Pittsburgh’s most prominent women executives. The event, co-sponsored by the Pittsburgh chapter of MBA Women International, was a smashing success.

“View from the C-Suite: Insights from Women Who Cracked the Glass Ceiling,” was attended by over 50 MBA students from regional universities, nearly 50 aspiring women who have already earned their MBAs, and a few brave men. Heinz, PNC, American Eagle, Bank of New York Mellon, Duquesne Light and the Pittsburgh Business Times underwrote attendance of MBA students

Featured executives were:
• Karen Larrimer, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer of PNC
• Audrey Russo, President and CEO of Pittsburgh Technology Council
• Donna Sturgess, President of Buyolgy and Executive in Residence at CMU (and former global head of innovation at GlaxoSmithKline)

Duquesne MBA Sustainability students Elizabeth Koppula and Atalie Hayes served as hosts and introduced fellow students Amanda Putnam, Morgan Funk, and Dina Sanioura and the executives they interviewed. Amanda, Morgan and Dina had conducted pre-event phone conferences with Karen, Audrey and Donna and skillfully guided the on-stage conversations to share unique insights and practical advice:

Karen encouraged us to “stay out of our comfort zone” and “raise our hands” for what we want. We cannot sit around and wait to be asked to fill a position; we just need to ask for it.

Audrey challenged us to always “be present” and relayed advice for career resilience that she was given along the way: “No one can take away your spirit; only you can give it away.”

Donna spoke of the importance of knowing your buyer “beyond the spreadsheet” as a marketer and “loving sales” as an entrepreneur. She also advised that although networking is important, you need friends who will tell you what you may not want to hear to get ahead.

The event was a huge success! The women sMBA students were fantastic on stage; their introductions and interviews made the audience feel as if they were watching an interview on late night television instead of a traditional interview. Thanks to the sponsors, speakers, presenters, MBA Women International, Duquesne University and the women sMBA students for putting on such a unique event.

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