Making connections at the MBA Women in Investing Conference

By: Katelyn Godoy
Women standing with the WIN Conference sign
Cornell Johnson MBA student participants at the 2018 MBA Women in Investing Conference (WIN) with Lakshmi Bhojraj, executive director of the Parker Center and founder of the WIN Conference (far right)

By Margot Waldron, Two-Year MBA ’20

In the fall, MBA students from 12 schools joined with industry representatives from more than 19 firms for the annual Women in Investing Conference (WIN) held at the Langham Hotel in downtown Boston. Participants came from as far as London and Los Angeles to partake in two days of networking and stock pitch competitions and to hear talks from investment management industry experts. It was exciting to participate in an event that highlighted intelligent, ambitious, and compassionate women. Investment management is a field with a small but growing number of women, and WIN, founded by our own Lakshmi Bhojraj, the Breazzano Family Executive Director of the Parker Center for Investment Research, is a truly special conference where we are able to get advice from prominent women in the industry.

Women seated around a table talking
The conference started off with a round robin networking session with representatives from sponsoring firms, followed by a reception and dinner.

Preparing for the Stock Pitch Challenge

The stock pitch portion of the conference consisted of teams of three to four MBA women who pitched a recommendation on any U.S. stock of our choosing. My teammates, MBAs Emma Liang and Vera Tang, and I began our preparation for the competition several weeks prior to the conference, but we ramped up on our road trip to Boston. We were allowed to pitch any U.S. stock had decided to stick with a company in an industry we all knew: food. We pitched a small-format grocery company that focused on fresh food offerings.

During our ride down, we worked on a few final tweaks to our financial models in the car and spent some of the trip finalizing our thesis points. We were excited to pitch our idea in front of judges and get their feedback. We were also assigned a mentor from Ivy Investments to help us develop our pitch. This was great value-add and she certainly helped us tighten our thesis points and the way were thinking about macro market effects. The judges were curious to hear us pitch as well and gave us advice throughout the day leading up to the competition.

The Stock Pitch Competition was scheduled for Friday morning, and we stayed up late the night before to perfect our presentation, which mostly consisted of us trying to synthesize all our information in a 10-minute presentation. This was no easy feat since we had a lot of data to fit in. Even though we did not place in the competition, we got positive feedback from the judges. The presentation went off without any problems, and most importantly, we were not thrown by the tough questions from the judges!

A team presents at the front of a crowded room
The Cornell team presents to judges and other conference attendees.

Connecting with industry executives

Beyond the stock pitching, we were lucky to hear from multiple industry executives and panelists about their experiences in investment management. Keynote speaker Pam Holding, co-head of the Equity Division for Fidelity Investments, spoke about her journey as a woman navigating the financial services industry. She talked about the choices you have to make each day and how important it is to prioritize what is important to you in terms of work-life balance. Pam’s speech really resonated with me personally, as it is often difficult for women in finance to carve out time for family life and extracurriculars. It was encouraging to see a woman balance both and advance her career in the process.

Five women speak on a panel with the moderator
Scott Stewart (far right), professor and faculty co-director of the Parker Center, moderates a panel discussion.

WIN was an inspiring couple of days, and it started and ended with networking events. This ties together the prominent theme of the event, which was to build connections with each other and motivate women to pursue careers in finance. Whether it be through speed networking sessions, informal chatting at the luncheon, or receiving feedback from judges, I made connections that I never would have without WIN.

Link to learn more abut Parker Center Learn More

About Margot Waldron, Two-Year MBA ’20

Margot Waldron

Margot Waldron is a first-year MBA Candidate in the Class of 2020. Prior to Johnson, Margot worked as a client service associate at Cambridge Associates in Arlington, Virginia. At Cambridge, she assisted with portfolio management for endowments and foundations. She was recently elected as co-president of the Investment Management Club and is a first-year sector analyst for consumer products on the student-led Cayuga Fund. She is also a member of the Squash Club and Women’s Management Council. Upon graduation, Margot hopes to pursue a career in asset management.