By Alixandra Wilkens
The Center for Entrepreneurship hosted a panel to discuss the current progression and involvement of women in the world of entrepreneurship on Oct. 19 as part of the Global Women in Entrepreneurship Week. The panel featured an array of female entrepreneurs who explained the cultural hoops they had to jump through and how they found success in their respective fields.
Stacey Sikes, the senior assistant dean for administration in the Center of Entrepreneurship, explained this is the second year the center has participated in this event. “Last year the Feliciano Center at Montclair State University, which is our counterpart, approached us to discuss Global Women in Entrepreneurship Week,” she said. “We partnered with the Frank G. Zarb School of Business to hold this event, and we are again.”
The panel was moderated by Dr. Janet Lenaghan, the vice dean of the Frank G. Zarb School of Business and the recipient of the 2016 and 2003 Hofstra Teacher of the Year Awards. She began by pointing out that while there is a two-to-three ratio of female-owned to male-owned businesses in the U.S., this does not deter women from achieving success.
“There’s [still] hope,” Lenaghan said. “Despite the hurdles women face, the number of companies owned by women is growing. According to the Huffington Post, women-owned businesses are growing at twice the growth rate of those owned by men.”
Panelist Felicia Fleitman is the founder of Savvy Hires, a workforce development and on-boarding firm, as well as the co-executive director of RecruitLI, a non-profit seeking to stimulate economic growth and opportunity. She stressed the importance of networking and “getting to know the community, trying to meet as many people as possible, collecting business cards and then doing what most people don’t do, which is following up.”
Margo Cargill, the founder and CEO of Titanium Linx Consulting, Inc., a diversified global management firm, is the 2017 U.S. Small Business Administration Minority Champion of the Year. She said one of the biggest challenges to overcome is a person’s own fear. “I can’t tell you how many opportunities I’ve had based on the sheer fact that I was in the room,” she said. “You have to have that bold, tenacious spirit. Just step into the room and be a part of it.”
Hofstra’s own Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Barbara Roberts, writes, teaches and speaks often about entrepreneurship and being the New York and Long Island Chair for the Women Presidents Organization for over two decades. She advocated for women to take negotiation courses to overcome certain hurdles in the workplace. “We are not going to be equal until we are financially equal,” Roberts said.
Robyn Herman is counsel to the New York City office of Hunter Taubman Fischer and Li, a corporate and securities firm, and she helps businesses launch and grow with investor plans. She said, “There’s really no such thing as failure. There’s adapting and there’s pivoting, and if you’re going to be an entrepreneur you have to be able to take what you are doing and continuously adapt it.”
Special Assistant Professor to the Zarb School of Business Lutisha S. Vickerie received Best Conceptual Paper Award and Best Doctoral Student Paper Award at the Unites States Association for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurship Conference. She said her biggest success was “following my intuition for what I could do with my life. I’m here, right now, and this is exactly where I want to be.”
Andrew Weisenberger, a senior marketing major, found the panel “interesting and eye-opening. It really shows you how important it is to collaborate with women.”
Elise Wright, a senior and marketing and international business major, and Stacie Camirand, a senior entrepreneurship and marketing major, agreed; both called the panel “inspiring.”
Wright added that college students – both female and male – should be aware of the challenges women face because they are the ones who will determine whether such obstacles are perpetuated or ended. “I think it happens from both ends,” Camirand said. “Whether you see it in college or not, when you graduate, there are going to be things that you didn’t expect, so I think it’s really important to be aware of that and fight that from the start.”