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L.E.A.D. Conference provides hands-on experience, empowerment, and confidence

April 3, 2018

KOKOMO, Ind. — Confidence. Teamwork. Communication. Time Management. Leadership.

From the initial idea to ensuring the conference ran smoothly, the Women in Business club at Indiana University Kokomo picked up a slew of skills you can’t always get inside the classroom as they planned the inaugural L.E.A.D. Conference.

From reserving the venue, planning snacks, training volunteers, marketing the event, choosing which presenters to invite to speak, and even providing the welcome on stage the day of, volunteers and the officers in the Women in Business club have packed their resumes full of skills sure to set them apart and wow any future employer.

Each officer, volunteer, and advisor credited teamwork and communication as the key ingredients to ensuring the event’s success. Shelby Beltz, president of Women in Business at IU Kokomo, said, “We’ve all really shared every role.” Kaitlyn Phillips, director of operations, added, “We all just help each other out. It’s not really about our job titles themselves.”

Bailey Record, a communication junior, also stepped outside of her comfort zone in a big way. Record contacted and asked Annette Russell, president and CEO of Security Federal, to present as a breakout speaker: “I was fortunate enough to work at Security Federal and working under Annette, I got to see her leadership skills. She has accomplished so much and she’s an IU Kokomo graduate so I thought that was really neat.”

As if asking a CEO to participate in a conference didn’t intimidate Record enough, she also provided the welcome for Russell’s presentation: “It’s my first time speaking in front of a large event; It’s really given me a lot of confidence.”

Phillips, a senior business management major, who serves as the Director of Operations for the club, has landed a job interview based on her involvement: “The job I applied for is coordinating events so this process helped me tell them that I’m ready to do this.”

Despite putting on a largely attended inaugural event, Women in Business is still a very young club on campus – not even one year old. Gabby VanAlistine and Gloria Preece, faculty advisors for the club, are both very proud of their members. VanAlstine, lecturer in business, said the goals of Women in Business are to “provide a community of support, networking, mentorship opportunities, and more professional development to our student members.” 

VanAlstine noted that the support from the IU Kokomo community has been overwhelming. The conference had three sponsorships and a generous donation from Sita Amba-Rao, Ph.D. Amba-Rao, professor emerita of management in the School of Business, said it was “with joy” that she supported students in business allowing “that they may pursue studies and activities that give them opportunities for life.”

Although the club is named Women in Business, VanAlstine noted that the club has several male members and is gender inclusive. Members of the club volunteered their time and efforts the day of the event including freshman communication major, Corbin Fields. Fields’ assignment for the day was to act as host to a breakout session speaker, Abbie Smith of United Way Howard County, meeting her when she arrived, helping her find her way, and providing refreshments when needed.

“I joined the club because it was my mother who raised me and she has always taught me that women can do things just as much as men can do. I’m here to hopefully take a load off the other Women in Business members’ shoulders,” said Fields.

Garrett Green, a freshman in business accounting, attended the conference for both moral support and for personal gain: “Although I’m not in the Women in Business club, I still think it’s a good cause. It’s really important to show up to these things to gain knowledge and experience while supporting the Women in Business as much as I can.”

The professional development conference had 128 registered attendees. Each breakout session was full of students from IU Kokomo and IU Bloomington, staff, faculty, friends of the University, and many community members there to learn about entrepreneurship, leadership, and empowerment.  

Beltz, junior business management major, said, “A lot of hard work has gone into the planning of this event and we hope it’s the first of many.”

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 04/03/2018