You are here: Home / News Release Archives / 2014 / April / Students Organize, Manage Major Women's Conference on Campus

Students Organize, Manage Major Women's Conference on Campus

The annual Powerful Women Paving the Way conference—last year’s Penn State Outstanding Program of the Year—is well-attended by both women students and professionals. But what many people don’t know is that it is student-run and organized.
April 10, 2014

The annual Powerful Women Paving the Way conference—last year’s Penn State Outstanding Program of the Year—is well-attended by both women students and professionals. But what many people don’t know is that it is student-run and organized.

The conference is a program of the Women in Business (WIB) student organization, a group of Penn State women in the Smeal College of Business dedicated to increasing recruitment and retention of women in Smeal and who come together to discuss personal and professional issues pertinent to women in the corporate world.

Leah Virbitsky, the 2013-14 president of WIB, and Carter Tobin, this year’s conference director, have been working hard with their teams since last summer to make sure that this year’s conference is better than ever.

“We worked together over the summer to organize the date and the venue,” said Virbitsky. “We needed to ensure it was a good weekend, based on other Penn State-related events like Blue-White Weekend.”

Once the date and venue are set, the pair tackled the task of lining up keynote speakers and guests to lead breakout sessions. The students worked closely with Meg Brower, assistant director for corporate outreach in Smeal’s Career and Corporate Connections office, and a group of alumni to help identify possible speakers.

“Women in Business also has a lot of corporate sponsors, so we worked with them to find connections as well,” said Virbitsky.

Tobin added, “Every year after the conference, we also have people reach out and ask how they can help for next year, so that often gives us a pool of people to draw from.”

Virbitsky and Tobin have put a great deal of time into developing this year’s conference—approximately 20 hours a week, they estimate. But they haven’t done it alone. They’re assisted by about 35 general WIB student members, divided into five committees, who manage tasks related to marketing, donations, logistics, and more.

Though the conference planning process has been a very involved experience, Virbitsky and Tobin say that it has helped prepare them for the business world.

“There are so many details we didn’t really realize, and when you go on break, you still have to keep on top of planning details. It’s been really good experience for us to get ready to graduate,” Virbitsky said.

Tobin added, “It’s been really great for me personally because I’ve accepted a position at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and before I start I’ll have met the CEO [keynote speaker Bob Moritz].”

The Powerful Women Paving the Way conference will be held on April 24-25 on Penn State’s University Park campus. Melissa Gonzalez, founder & CEO of the Lionesque Group, will kick off the event with a networking reception.

Keynote speakers will include PwC’s Moritz as well as Beth Brooke, global vice chair of regulatory and public policy at EY, and Karen Carter, executive vice president of BP North America Gas & Power Trading. Breakout sessions will include tracks aimed at both professionals and students.

Tobin, a Supply Chain and Information Systems major, will begin her position in security consulting at PwC this summer. Virbitsky, a dual major in Supply Chain and Public Relations, has a summer internship in procurement with Altria.

For more information on the conference and to register, visit

Recent News
Urban Outfitters, Inc. Chief Development Officer David Ziel to Speak at Smeal Leadership Lecture Series 01 Oct

David Ziel, chief development officer of Urban Outfitters, Inc. will share his perspectives on business and leadership with the Penn State Smeal College of Business on Friday, October 10. His visit is part of the college’s Executive Insights series and the Melvin Jacobs Retail Leadership Lecture Series.

Penn State Smeal MBA Students Use Improv Comedy to Enhance Communication Skills 30 Sep

During their two-week orientation to the program, members of the Penn State Smeal MBA Class of 2016 called upon improvisation comedy techniques to improve their communication and networking skills in a session with CSz Business. A new initiative this year, the MBA Improv Communications session offers a number of exercises aimed at improving listening skills, brainstorming techniques, and teamwork.

Ethical Behavior Can Be Contagious 30 Sep

A new study from Penn State Smeal College of Business faculty members Steven Huddart and Hong Qu examines the power of social influence on managers’ ethical behavior. The Department of Accounting researchers find that managers tend to become more honest after observing honest peers and more dishonest after observing dishonest peers.

Smeal to Contribute to GE-Supported Center to Study Natural Gas Supply Chains 25 Sep

GE announced that it will invest up to $10 million in Penn State to establish a new innovation center focused on driving cutting-edge advancements in the natural gas industry. The Center for Collaborative Research on Intelligent Natural Gas Supply Systems at Penn State (CCRINGSS) will engage Penn State researchers and students from many disciplines in collaborative work with various industry stakeholders. The center will seek to advance efficiency and environmental sustainability both through technological innovations and improved supply chain management.

Supply Chain Researchers Claim a Shift Toward 'Supply Ecosystems' 25 Sep

A new article from Penn State Smeal College of Business faculty member Christopher W. Craighead and colleagues David Ketchen at Auburn University—a 1994 graduate of the Smeal Ph.D. Program—and Russell Crook at the University of Tennessee suggest that disruptive technologies are creating an evolution from supply chains to “supply ecosystems.”

More Recent News... More Recent News...