International Women’s Day: Our best advice for women MBAs and business leaders

By: Katelyn Godoy
Photo collage of women faculty and leadership at Johnson

Women are changing the world of business. On International Women’s Day—and every day—we’re learning from and empowered by Sage Hall’s women leaders. While they’re teaching business courses and sharing personal and professional experiences, they’re also changing the way organizations approach diversity and inclusion, setting standards, and exemplifying how women can break through the glass ceiling.

In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, we asked our faculty and program directors to share their best advice and words of wisdom for Johnson’s women MBAs.

Portrait of Angela Noble-Grange

“Figure out what you want out of this program (and life) and focus on doing the things needed to make those things happen. Don’t try to do it all, don’t try to get everyone to like you, don’t waste time doing everything you can for others so they will like you. DO YOU!

And, one more thing. Don’t worry about getting together with someone while you are here. Spending time finding someone special is time away from finding you. Find yourself—what do you enjoy doing? Do that. Trying to find that special someone doesn’t work. Finding you will often bring that special someone forward when the time is right for you and for him/her. Don’t force it.”

— Angela Noble-Grange, senior lecturer of management communication

“Spend less time worrying about what other people are thinking about you (because, truly, they aren’t thinking about you, at least not as often as you imagine) and more time focusing on how to show up as your authentic self. When you know what you value, and you consistently behave in a manner that manifests what you value, you’ll move through the world in a centered way that allows you to do your best work, and have your greatest impact.”

— Risa Mish, professor of practice of management

Portrait of Barbara Mink

“My best advice to young women is to define success your own way. Other people’s standards may not be yours—pursue your ambition, be open to new directions, and live your own life.”

— Barbara Mink, senior lecturer of management communication

Portrait of Kristina Rennekamp

“Throughout your career and your life, make it a priority to give back. None of us got to where we are in life on our own. There are many women, young and old, around the world who need and deserve our support. Find ways to ‘pay it forward’ and help others achieve their goals!”

— Kristina Rennekamp, assistant professor of accounting

Photo of Kathleen OConnor teaching class

“Three pieces of advice: 1) The Johnson school can be a noisy place full of opinions and advice. Be sure to listen to your own voice so you can forge the path that is best for you. 2) Take time every day to enjoy your life. And 3) If you are going to have a life partner, choose wisely. A supportive partner makes all the difference to a happy life.”

— Kathleen M. O’Connor, associate professor of management and organizations

Portrait of Laura Georgianna

“A key mantra of mine, especially when finding myself in a moment of disagreement or conflict is to choose ‘curiosity over judgement.’ Too often without realizing it we judge others and their ideas when they see things differently from us, narrowing the possibility for new thinking to emerge. Research has shown that many of the greatest innovations have come from the collision of differing ideas, mental models, and experiences. So if you want to live an expansive, growth-oriented life and have significant impact in your organization, stay curious and see where it will lead.”

— Laura Georgianna, executive director of leadership programs

Photo of Professor O'Hara in the Dyson atrium

“At 25, it seemed like I was being pulled in so many directions it was hard to sort out what made sense. One piece of advice is that you could probably be successful in any number of different things—so pick ones that make you happy, that line up with the things you like to do, with the things you value. Try to fulfill your potential—and don’t sell yourself short by thinking that you cannot succeed so you will not try.”

— Maureen O’Hara, professor of management and finance


  1. This advice is disappointing, both for the message it sends to Cornell women in business and for what it tells us about the Johnson School’s attitude about women. Would anyone give this advice to men? Are women at the Johnson School really only concerned about dating, happiness, and helping others? On International Women’s Day it’s disappointing that that the issues facing women in business are trivialized so publicly.

  2. Well, the Messages of these Brave Ladies is Really Motivating for the ones who are Lacking the confidence to speak for their Rights. These are the Ladies who Deserve a Bundle of respect and honor.

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