Marquette Wire

Alumna speaks at new ‘Women in Business’ series

Marquette+alumna+and+businesswoman+Mary+Ellen+Stanek+gave+the+first+%22Women+in+Business%22+series+speech.
Marquette alumna and businesswoman Mary Ellen Stanek gave the first

Marquette alumna and businesswoman Mary Ellen Stanek gave the first "Women in Business" series speech.

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Marquette alumna and businesswoman Mary Ellen Stanek gave the first "Women in Business" series speech.

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Women of all ages and backgrounds gathered April 16 to hear Marquette alumna Mary Ellen Stanek share insights from her nearly 40 years of business experience.

The speech was the inauguration of the “Women in Business” series launched by the College of Business Administration. Though the event was the first and last of the academic year, the series will continue next fall.

Stanek currently serves as managing director and director of asset management for Baird, a wealth management firm. Her team manages approximately $63 billion in assets.

In her speech, Stanek focused on what she would’ve liked to hear as a student. She stressed the importance of finding a balance between work and family life and navigating being a woman in the workplace.

“People, particularly women, try to live a life that other people want them to live … You’ve got to figure out what really matters to you and go after that,” Stanek said.

Shannon Theim, assistant to Dean Brian Till of the College of Business Administration, managed the promotion for the series. She said Stanek was chosen because of her ties to Marquette and her reputation as a distinguished businesswoman.

“Some coin her as the most powerful woman in Milwaukee, so we were really glad to secure her for the first event,” Theim said.

The concept for the series was originally proposed by a group of students involved in the Women in Business club on campus, Theim said.

Kate Shanahan, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, is one of the students who organized the event. She said she loved Stanek’s openness about discussing issues that affect women in the workplace — specifically in regard to the #MeToo and the Time’s Up movements.

“Twenty, 30 years ago, that wasn’t something people talked about, especially in a group of 500 people,” Shanahan said.

The idea for the series was proposed to Till seven months ago. Till said the event was not just for female business students, but for all students and community members.

“To bring in someone who is a very prominent and accomplished businesswoman to talk about her story and to serve as a role model for our female business students — but really for all of our students — is very powerful,” Till said.

Till said this event is a new take on other speaker series the College of Business Administration hosts.

“I think it’s healthy for our students to see very accomplished female executives as role models,” Till said.

While the College of Business Administration makes an effort to bring speakers into classrooms, most of the speakers tend to be male, Theim said.

“I really think (students) have responded favorably because they want the opportunity to hear from women in power,” Theim said.

This was true for Shanahan, who said she is not exposed to many female executives in the workplace.

“There’s one chief legal officer at work who is a woman, but every other C-Suite executive is a man … so it was cool to see a woman in that high-power group speak about her experiences and where she started,” Shanahan said.

Theim said she already received feedback from people in the community for next year. Some suggestions include expanding the program to include multiple speakers and bringing in women from different industries.

An original version of this story said Stanek’s team manages approximately $63 million in assets. It should be $63 billion. The Marquette Wire regrets this error. 

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