When a speaker at a School of Business Ambassadors’ club meeting asked, “What are we missing at The College?” CofC senior and Honors College student Kirsten Parker didn’t hesitate to answer.

“Jaded from the lack of diversity in the workplace, I wanted to create an organization that empowered female students in the School of Business, and also offer them networking opportunities,” says Parker.

Originally from Alexandria, Virginia, and a transfer student from Florida State University, Parker knew she wanted to get more involved not only on campus, but also within the Charleston community. Her passion as an entrepreneur led to the idea of creating an organization that would celebrate women and help lead them to achieve their career goals. Thus, the student club Women in Business was born.

“There was a lot of talk about the #MeToo movement, as well as the lack of women in the workplace,” says Parker. “I knew a female-focused club would make a positive influence on campus.”

The club began meeting in January 2018 and soon established an executive board and began recruiting members. Now, a little more than one year later, the club is celebrating its one-year anniversary, with a roster of 50 active members spanning all different majors and backgrounds. And despite the club’s gender-specific name, several men are also members.

The club offers a variety of events, including speakers, workshops, fundraisers and social activities within the community. Past guest speakers have ranged from business professionals in Charleston to big-time names like Rachael Bozsik, founder of The Brand Girls. This semester, club members are looking forward to hosting speaker Martha McNeil of Morgan Stanley, who will visit campus at 5 p.m. on Feb. 13, 2019, as well as Red Rose Vintage owner Amy Walter at 6 p.m. on March 11, 2019. Both events will be held in the Beatty Center, room 220. All are welcome.

Associate Professor of Management Elise Perrault, the club’s acting advisor, is confident in the future success of Women in Business (WIB).

“Our women students are hungry for events, get-togethers, courses, and opportunities where they can learn about women’s success in the workplace,” says Perrault. “I think they are looking both for inspiration through the stories of those who have made it and practical tools that they can develop for their own journey. Parker was one of those women, and she had the vision to create WIB. In no time, the organization became a highly dynamic club providing our students unique opportunities to grow.”

Beyond continuing to grow the club, Parker’s professional goals include using her accounting degree in her future position with the financial services assurance service line of accounting firm Ernst & Young, while still maintaining a close relationship with Women in Business.

As she and half of the club’s executive board prepare to graduate this spring, Parker says they are confident that the club will remain viable. Junior Mattie Toolin will next take the reins as club president, having served on the executive board from the get-go.

In the meantime, Parker intends to continue asking students what they want out of their membership and working to incorporate their ideas.

“I’d love to introduce a leadership program that would allow members to attend conferences and have the opportunity to speak with other successful women outside of Charleston,” she says.

Scout Petersen is a senior from Omaha, Nebraska, studying English, creative writing and business at the College of Charleston. 

Featured image: From left, future Women in Business president Mattie Toolin, club founder Kirsten Parker and member relations coordinator Victoria Savage. (Photo by Heather Moran)