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Lehigh unveils National Association of Women MBAs chapter

Lehigh's student chapter of the National Association of Women MBAs

Lehigh recently became home to the newest student chapter of the National Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA), one of the largest organizations in the United States dedicated to empowering women in business and enhancing the diversity of the nations’ workforce.

Last month’s announcement was timed to coincide with Women’s History Month, suggested Kathleen Bibalo, president of the Lehigh University MBA Association and founder of the chapter.

“Our affiliation with the association will help build Lehigh’s brand as a solid, top-notch MBA program for women,” says Bibalo, a 2009 MBA candidate. “It provides a national support system for our students and alumnae, while also allowing us to build stronger relationships with some of the biggest names in business.”

Lehigh’s partnership with NAWMBA has grown significantly in just the past year. It reached a high last October, when a team of women MBA students—including Bibalo—captured second place in the association’s national case competition for strategic marketing plan development.

Lehigh was one of only nine teams from across the country to make the final round of the competition, a feat that Bibalo says clearly demonstrates the talent and ability of those in Lehigh’s MBA program.

Tonya Olpin, executive director of NAWMBA, agrees.

“The Lehigh case competition team at the NAWMBA conference represented Lehigh in a professional manner, one that all Lehigh students should be very proud of,” Olpin says. “The content of their presentation was creative, realistic, and presented in a manner that impressed the judges and case competition attendees.”

“An attractive partnership”

Lehigh MBA students Aditi Anil Katdore, Prabha Karavadi, and Mahua Sarkar joined Bibalo at the conference. In total, about 30% of the students enrolled in the MBA program at Lehigh are women, a figure that has steadily grown over the past few years.

“We’d like to continue attracting a broader range of students to the program, which is already recognized as the best in the region,” says Bibalo. In 2007, BusinessWeek magazine named Lehigh’s part-time MBA program No.1 in the Mid-Atlantic region, and No. 5 nationally.

“It’s an attractive partnership because it will really allow us to showcase our network and provide professional development opportunities that, perhaps, weren’t available before,” she explained.

According to the association and Catalyst, a leading research firm that advises women and businesses, women held just over 15% of corporate officer positions in Fortune 500 companies in 2007. Bibalo and her peers think that will change along with corporate business culture.

Liuba Belkin agrees. An Axelrod Family Endowed Fellow and assistant professor of management with Lehigh’s College of Business and Economics, Belkin believes the NAWMBA chapter at Lehigh offers a unique opportunity for women in the Lehigh MBA community to share their professional experiences.

She says one of NAWMBA’s key missions is to educate women on their opportunities and enhance their professional skills, allowing them grow and succeed in the business world. Many Lehigh University alumnae have traveled that path, Belkin says, and the NAWMBA events will give them a venue to share their knowledge and expertise with their female peers.

“In a modern workplace of globalized competition and in a tough economic environment, companies cannot afford to lose female talent, and I believe the Lehigh NAWMBA chapter can help in that by bringing both companies and potential female employees to the table,” says Belkin.

“And by actively involving alumni to meet with our current MBA students through NAWMBA sessions, Lehigh further strengthens the ties between the Lehigh MBA program and corporate world, building mutually beneficial business relationships,” she adds.

NAWMBA, which was founded in 1979 at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, now has more than 80 student chapters and two professional chapters.

--Tom Yencho

 

Posted on Monday, April 06, 2009

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