Women in Business in Year of the UNA Woman



Photo Courtesy of UNA

Lavette Williams, Editor-in-Chief

 Lavette Williams interviewed Erin Gillespie, the faculty advisor for Women of Business. 

Williams: What is “Women in Business”? 

Gillespie: Women in Business is a new RSO that officially got off the ground fall 2020. Our purpose is to support the advancement of women through mentorship and community. Typically, we have a meeting or event each month. 

Williams: What made you start this up? 

Gillespie: What really drove me to start WIB was seeing such strong, intelligent, and talented women in my classroom and across UNA’s campus. I really wanted to help these women receive all the opportunities possible to help them be successful. Tori Bottoms was both my student and advisee at the time, and when I told her about this idea, her enthusiasm and strong desire for such an organization really spurred me to get WIB started at UNA. She became our first president and now, as full-time UNA staff, serves as co-advisor. 

Williams: What is your mission? 

Gillespie: Our purpose is to support the advancement of women through mentorship and community. To fulfill this, WIB provides mentorship through engagement with faculty and community leaders; hosts skill-building workshops (e.g., salary negotiation); and focuses on empowerment and education in terms of relevant issues facing today’s women. 

Williams: Who can join WIB? 

Gillespie: We are open to all UNA students who are interested in supporting our mission. 

Williams: How can students benefit from being a part of this organization? 

Gillespie: We believe students can benefit from WIB in so many ways. First, the networking is invaluable in addition to the skills learned (e.g., personal finance). Through our speakers and events, we hope that our students become better equipped to succeed once they begin their careers. It also allows them to get more involved on campus, which is so important. 

Williams: Why is it an important organization to have at UNA? 

Gillespie: We really want to create more opportunities for women to excel. 

Williams: What are your hopes and expectations for this semester? 

Gillespie: What we’re most excited about is celebrating the Year of the UNA Woman, and we’re having so much fun planning events for both this fall and spring. We really hope to continue our growth and also to have more face-to-face opportunities. Since we began during the pandemic, we’re really hoping to do as many face-to-face options as possible. It allows for so much more engagement and networking. 

Williams: Who are some important women that you plan on covering? 

Gillespie: While we don’t want to give too much away, we have an amazing alumni panel in November featuring recent graduates from the various disciplines within the COBT. We also have some great speakers lined up for our upcoming events, including Women’s Entrepreneurship Week in October. Follow our social media (una_womeninbusiness on Instagram) to keep updated on our upcoming speakers as we release them. 

Williams: Who are some women in the business field that you look up to? 

Gillespie: That’s tough—there are so many. Starting close to home, Jana Beaver, the COBT’s associate dean, is amazing; we’ve featured her as a speaker at WIB. She’s such a great example of female leadership for our students, and we’re so grateful for the support we receive from Dr. Beaver (as well as the COBT). 

WIB did a book club last year with Chasing the Bright Side by Jess Ekstrom. Jess founded Headbandz of Hope; for every headband that the company sells, they donate one to a child with cancer. It really resonated because she started the business while in college, and overcame many obstacles as she became a successful entrepreneur. It also is a very heartwarming story as it provides so much good for children battling cancer. It was truly inspirational, and we love the example that it sets for our students with key takeaways such as: 1) You don’t have to wait to act on your ideas and passions and 2) Don’t let obstacles stop you—perseverance is key! 

Personally, I also love Laura Vanderkam. She’s an author, speaker, and host of multiple podcasts. Her book I Know How She Does It was such a good read about how high-achieving women – often mothers- make the most of their time.