Michelle Tillis Lederman ‘93, CEO and Founder of Executive Essentials, is the Keynote Speaker for Spring 2023 Conference. Saturday, February 25, 2023. in Lehigh University Mountaintop Campus, Iacocca Hall. Michelle spent a decade in finance with positions in audit, M&A, financial consulting, VC, and hedge fund investing. (Xiaozhe Zhang/B&W Staff)

Women in business conference prepares students for the future


Looking to help women navigate the male-dominated business industry, the Lehigh Women in Business Club promotes personal and professional development. 

According to Lehigh’s Involvement Connection website, the club aims to create a supportive environment for career advising and professional relationship building for women. One way they do this is through their annual spring conference, which they held in the Iacocca Hall Wood Dining Room on Feb. 25.

The event fosters networking between women students in business and company representatives. Attendees dressed in business casual attire and were able to browse and connect at company tables.

The conference also hosted guest panelists from various business sectors. Many of the panelists were Lehigh alumni, including keynote speaker Michelle Tillis Lederman, ‘93, CEO of Executive Essentials.

Executive Essentials, according to Lederman’s website, is a training company that provides communications and leadership programs and executive coaching services to enable individuals to excel professionally. Since her years at Lehigh, Lederman has become a public speaker, trainer, coach and the author of four books relating to the workforce.

The panelists related their talks to this year’s theme: “Modern Technology and Mindfulness: Balancing Staying Present while Plugged in.” 

Priya Bhatnagar, ‘22, operational analyst at Morgan Stanley and former president of the Women in Business Club, said the theme reflects post-pandemic shifts in business.

“It’s a really good theme right now because we are post-COVID, and we want to be very mindful of how we are going about our business,” Bhatnagar said.

She said learning how technology influences different fields and business sectors is beneficial to students.

Bhatnagar said mindfulness pertains to everyone — regardless of gender — but it was particularly beneficial to have women run the event because they are a minority in the business world.

“Women aren’t really at the forefront of business,” Bhatnagar said. “Only 10% are in the top fortune 500, so trying to make sure we get women in those positions and teach them how to get there and hearing from women leaders is important.”

Although primarily women attended the event, some male business students and panelists also attended.

Andrew Daly, ‘20, graduated with a degree in computer science and business from Lehigh. He is a quality assurance test engineer at MIO Partners and was invited to speak about business technology. 

He said it is good for young alumni, like himself and Bhatnagar, to return to campus and offer their perspective to current students. He said Lehigh supported his growth with resources and opportunities, and he wants to give back. 

Daly said modern technology and mindfulness are important considerations in the business world because they apply to all businesspeople.

“In this kind of dynamic of an evolving world, it is important for everyone, including women, to have the greatest grasp of technology and how it is going to impact their careers,” Daly said.

He said it is important for students of all ages to come to these events because it is never too early to network and practice valuable skills. 

Maggie Casula, ‘09, was another speaker at the conference. Now a senior audit manager at KPMG, a professional services company and one of the Big Four accounting organizations, she said she remembers attending Women in Business conferences when she was a Lehigh student.

Casula said the relationship between mindfulness and technology is something students will see in their jobs after college. 

“It is relevant because technology is growing and growing, and I can’t imagine what it is going to be like by the time everyone here graduates,” she said. 

The goal of this conference, Casula said, is to prepare students for their future. She said any opportunity to meet new people is a valuable one. 

Bhatnagar said her key takeaway from the conference is to advocate for yourself.

“Speaking up is really important in terms of workplace balance (and) as a woman in business,” Bhatnagar said.

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1 Comment

  1. The Women in Business conference seems like an empowering and informative event. It’s great to see a focus on the future and helping women succeed in the business world. I hope this conference inspires and motivates attendees to reach their full potential.

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