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Interview with the Co-President of DukeWIB

As part of her Insight Magazine feature 'Uniting Women in Business', our Head of External Relations, Imogen Duke, interviewed a range of WIB societies around the UK and America. Here she talks to the Co-Presidents of DukeWIB, Samaya and Karen.

Hi! Could you tell us a bit about you and your role in DukeBOW?

Samaya: I’m a senior studying Economics with a minor in CS and I’m originally from Dallas, Texas. I joined BOW in my freshman fall and was immediately so drawn to the org and wanted to get more involved, so I joined the communication committee. For my sophomore year, I joined the exec board as Logistics Chair, overseeing on average more than an event per day. In my junior year, I was VP of Professional Development, where I got a flavour of event planning, and this year I’m Co-President. I spent my last two summers interning in finance and I’ll be returning full-time after graduation.

Karen: I’m also a senior studying Economics and CS and I’m also from the Dallas, Texas area! I joined BOW in my freshman fall and knew it was the organisation I wanted to be most involved with. When I joined, I was a part of the High School Mentorship committee and the Finance Newsletter Committee. That taught me how easy and meaningful it was to take initiative in BOW, so I was VP of Membership in my sophomore year. In my junior year, I was VP of Events Finance, so I was in charge of helping underclassmen recruiting for anything in the finance division. I’m now Co-President with Samaya. We’re so excited to grow and bring everything back to in-person after COVID. I also interned in finance and will be returning to the firm after graduation.

How would you describe your society in three words?

Karen: Innovative, supportive, and driven

Samaya: Self-reflective, empowering, ambitious

How has it impacted your university or career journey so far?

Samaya: BOW has been the organization I’ve spent the most time with during my four years at Duke, and it’s affected my college life in a lot of ways. I’ve met some of my greatest friends through BOW, Karen being one of them, and a lot of people who were a great support network for me during the recruitment process. I’ve also gained the best mentors through BOW - for example, in my freshmen year I was paired with a senior and I still stay in touch with her about every 2 months. When I was on the job search, I reached out to her and she was so helpful and connected me with so many people. In a full-circle moment, I interned at the same place she worked at after graduation, and we would meet up for coffee and lunch. I feel like that captures the spirit of BOW - that people are so helpful and the relationships we forge are so long-lasting. Lastly, in terms of my professional development, being around people who are so ambitious and hard-working is really motivating, and has been helpful to think about my skill set and the way I communicate.

Karen: I would definitely echo what Samaya said about mentorship and community. I also got my job indirectly through BOW. I met a mentor at a resume review meeting - he helped me out and connected me to a bunch of people at the firm. We stayed in touch and now call about every 6 months. One of my roommates is also part of BOW Exec, and Samaya and I have gotten super close. I can attribute a lot of my growth as a leader and team member to my participation in BOW and particularly to being in Exec. I can bring my own ideas into reality, and seeing that process from start to finish, and putting out any fires, has taught me so much about how to actually make things happen. I just can’t imagine my time at Duke without this organisation.

Do you have a role model you’ve met through your society who inspires you?

Samaya: There have been so many. Last year when I was VP of Prof Dev I brought in a lot of speakers who talked about their career trajectory. One in particular I really connected with was Itir Keskiner, who is a life coach. She talked about how she’s had a successful career, working at Unilever and Samsung, and has been all over the world. She gave us a raw and honest take of what it means to be a woman in the corp world and even in the peak of her career, with personal and professional success, she still didn’t feel fulfilled. It was helpful to hear someone so perfect on paper say that career success is not the end all be all. At places like Duke and in BOW it’s easy to get caught up in those types of things.

We also had Emily White come speak at our General Body Meeting. She has had a major role in many social media companies, including Snapchat and Instagram, and started at Google. She’s now a tech venture capitalist. Hearing her speak about her roles and standing her ground as a young woman was really inspiring.

Karen: A lot of our speakers have been really inspiring. One was Allie Schieffelin, who successfully sued Morgan Stanley for widespread sex discrimination. She talked about the difficult process and the backlash she faced; the toll it took on her mental health but why she felt it was so important. Hearing people who have the courage to stand up to that is very inspiring,

The other role model was the President of BOW two years ago, Angela, and she has always been a huge inspiration because I look at her and think, if I could be like you 2 years from now, I’d be very happy with myself. She always keeps me very grounded, always calms me down if I’m panicking too much and helps me out with any difficult decisions.

Do you have any advice for female students just starting at university?

Karen: The first one is to look for the supportive communities out there. I think a lot of business societies are male-dominated. BOW stood out to me as not being that way so I’m really grateful for being able to be involved. It has given me the leeway to enact my ideas. The second is to be open-minded about the experiences that you have. When I first joined BOW, I was very career-driven and professionally-minded. But now that I’m a little older and have a job, I’ve taken a bit of a step back and I’m thinking more about the community and professional development aspects, and I’ve realised how much that helps you grow as a person.

Samaya: I would also say that it’s really important to seek out mentors, whether through formal channels or through less formal ways, like people you work with who are a few years older. Reach out to them and set up a time to talk. My best mentorships have grown organically. The other thing is to find your community and peers you trust, who are going through the same struggles you are. It can get really difficult, so having a close support system who can relate to what you’re going through is beyond helpful.

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