Dean says women needed in business

Current and aspiring businesswomen gathered at the second David Eccles School of Business Women’s Business Forum on Thursday afternoon.

The school invited four of Utah’s top women business leaders to share their experiences and encourage their peers to gain a business education.

“Women are underrepresented in business school,” said Jack Brittain, dean of the school. “That doesn’t seem quite right to us.”

At the U, women represent about 30 percent of business students, which is a bit higher than the national average, which is 28 percent.

Brittain says he would like the numbers to mirror the law and medical schools’ 50 percent female representation.

The panelists included Susan Grasmann, former senior vice president for Questar Regulated Services; Ashley Holbrook, C.O.O. for European Connection; Rachel Sweet, vice president of Marketing for Sweet Candy Company; and Barbara Zimonja, president of Premier Resorts.

Each panelist shared some of her experience in business and endorsed the school’s master’s of business administration program.

“[I would like to say] how valuable getting an MBA would be to you. If I had had the education in the beginning, I would have reached my goals a lot earlier,” said Zimonja, who never received a formal business school education.

Among the issues discussed at the forum were the reasons that women are not motivated to enter into business.

“Women don’t start out going into business,” said Sweet, who began her career in politics, “but [in my experience I found] business people were the most impactful people in Washington.”

Many of the nearly 75 women who attended the forum were concerned about the history of male dominance in the marketplace.

“I don’t think that it’s always an equal playing field, but there are many opportunities for women in business,” Sweet said.

“I would have to say to you that women make very, very good leaders, and I think it’s because of the way we’re raised. Women empower men to be the human beings that they just want to be,” said Zimonja, president of a company that employs 2,000 people-and a management staff that is mostly male. “Because you’re a woman, that may very well give you a better introduction into that situation than if you were a man.”

“I had developed a sense of integrity and honesty [with my employees]. Being a women helped with that trust level,” Grasmann said.

The panel unanimously endorsed the education offered at the U.

“When I see a woman walk in with an MBA-and yes, I am a bit biased-I sit up and take notice,” Zimonja said. “The more talented you become, the better you can put yourself into something you enjoy.”

“MBA experience gave me not only the necessary business skills but also gave me confidence,” Holbrook said.

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