Stanford Women in Business shifts focus for greater outreach

Nov. 4, 2013, 12:49 a.m.

Stanford Women in Business (SWIB) – a student group dedicated to providing opportunities for women interested in pursuing careers in business – underwent fundamental changes this year from event scheduling to expanding its audience to both genders.

Co-Presidents Lindsey Wilder ’14 and Lauryn Isford ’15 said the changes reflect the group’s commitment to evolving its focus.

In the past, SWIB’s most prominent event was the annual spring conference – typically a day filled with workshops and panelists including professors from the, finance experts, local entrepreneurs and corporate-related speakers like last year’s keynote speakers Evan Spiegel’ 12, CEO and co-founder of Snapchat, and Drew Houston, CEO and co-founder of Dropbox.

This year, the conference will be split into three quarterly speaker events and renamed the Executive Leadership Series, inviting high-caliber business speakers to lecture in front of Stanford’s pre-business student audience.

The change was intended to allow more students to attend SWIB’s events since they require shorter time commitments. Both Wilder and Isford spearheaded the spring conference last year and understood the value in shortening the event to make it more compact.

“This is a decision process that has lasted for a few years,” Isford said. “Every year, past, present and future presidents think about how to make things better.

“The entire SWIB group agrees that the new speaker series would make it easier for everyone in SWIB and make it easier for people outside of SWIB,” Isford added.

SWIB was founded nine years ago by undergraduates who wanted to learn more about business and educate women about pursuing careers in the business world. Since its establishment, it has developed into a 30-member leadership core team that reaches out to a general group of over 1,000 students who attend conferences and engage in organized events. Throughout the year, SWIB board members provide educational opportunities for these pre-business students by organizing speaker series and facilitating workshops.

“Our mission is to provide business education to all Stanford students, especially women, to help them foster the skills they need to grow in their career,” Wilder said. “We’re also focused on making sure that we are a resource to these students.”

In recent years, the organization has begun to educate the entirety of Stanford’s pre-business population rather than focusing their resources on women. A specific focus for this year, the presidents have worked on making SWIB events equally popular for both genders.

“We want to emphasize that we want everyone in the Stanford community to benefit from our events,” Isford said. “It’s more than just about getting our 30 girls educated – we want all of Stanford’s men and women to be educated the best we can.”

Along with changes to SWIB’s target audience and annual conference, SWIB has also rearranged the leadership team to include younger members. Isford is the youngest president appointed by SWIB.

“One thing that’s different, that’s also kind of cool, is that our board for this year is very young – something very exciting for SWIB,” Wilder said. “There’s a new energy that comes with having a young board.”

The co-presidents hope that the board’s youth will bring consistency to the organization’s leadership as they continue to transform the structure and branding of the organization. Yet their main mission remains clear: to expose as many Stanford students as possible to careers in business.

“Over time, and since we became presidents, we’ve really pushed forward with the evolution of SWIB,” Wilder said. “It was a gradual process but once we became presidents we tried to put in place the evolution and refinement of team and the things that we need to focus on our core mission.”


Contact Elizabeth Davis at elizabethdavis ‘at’

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