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Spring Business Conferences

The Spring Business Conference is BOW’s signature event. BOW’s Spring Business Conference (SBC) is open to the entire Duke community and features addresses by globally-recognized business leaders from various business industries. Each year's event centers on a different businesss-related theme.

SBC 2019

Game Changers: Women and Technology in the Business World

Featuring keynote Karen Walker, Chief Marketing Officer of 

Cisco, BOW's 2019 Spring Business Conference celebrated the women innovators, global leaders, founders, doctors, executives, and cultural icons who have played a central role in shaping their industries through technology. These were the women who never settled, who drove change and worked to establish their place in various male-dominated fields all while collaborating with and lifting up other women. This year, BOW's Spring Business Conference also hosted women from the Society of Women Leaders, which include schools such as Harvard, Columbia, Notre Dame, and more.

The conference began with Afreen Allam, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of SiNON Therapeutics. In a speech that embraced honesty and vulnerability, Afreen shared the challenges she faced in starting her own company as a woman of color. She was followed by Lisa Burton, Executive Director of HearstLab. In her years of being a startup founder herself as well as working on the investor side to find, invest in, and develop women-led startups, Lisa was able to see the value that women bring to the table. To encourage young women to build and lean into their networks, Lisa invited Sophie Strike, her best friend, fellow Duke classmate, and Orthopaedic Surgeon at John Hopkins, to join her on stage to speak about their friendship and how they have managed to build and support each other along in their college and career journeys. Then, keynote Karen Walker, Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President of Cisco, reflected back on her journey as an industry leader and a woman and on the evolution of technology and digital marketing. Finishing up the night was Danielle James, Founder of Model Citizen and Head of Fashion and Beauty at iOne. Danielle opened up about her financial struggles earlier on, while simultaneously sending a message to every young woman in the audience to continue to work hard, believe in themselves, and never compromise their visions and values even if it means turning down short-term monetary successes. 

SBC 2018

Women in the C-Suite

BOW welcomed General Motors' Chief Executive Officer, Mary Barra, the highest-profile individual ever featured in SBC history for its SBC 2018. Alongside Mary Barra, Fuqua Alum Kira Wampler gave an inspiring keynote, "On Being Disruptive", on her experience as Chief Executive Officer of and Chief Marketing Officer of Lyft. To wrap up the event, a panel of Duke entrepreneurial women spoke about their journeys to their current companies. The panel featured Chief Operating Officer and Founder of EcoFlow Tech Hannah Sieber, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Fathom AI Ivonna Dumanyan, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of SLT Amanda Freeman, and Chief Executive Officer and founder of Universal Giving Pamela Hawley. The conference was centered around tech and entrepreneurship, and the programming was especially inspiring for members of the audience who seek to be leaders in these spaces where women are the minority. To promote the conference, BOW ran two marketing campaigns that showcased the speakers while also raising awareness about issues for women in the c-suite, such as equal pay for female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. BOW also introduced campus delegates from both local high schools and universities extended the BOW community into the wider Triangle area by inviting members from six outside universities and schools in North Carolina to attend the conference.


BOW's Spring Business Conference 2018 Chair, Sonia Hernandez, shared, "During the conference, I had the honor of speaking with our keynote speaker, Mary Barra, about empowering women in the auto, tech, engineering, and entrepreneurship spaces. She spoke not only about the challenges women face in these industries, but also of the change she's seen recently in her company, especially when women lead, innovate, and succeed. Her ending piece of advice was to seek communities of women who support each other and push each other to change the status quo. Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back. Duke Association for Business Oriented Women, thank you for being my tribe!"

SBC 2017

The Business of Fashion

In 2017, BOW was thrilled to host Victoria's Secret CFO, Pamela Edwards, as the keynote speaker of the annual Spring Business Conference. Pamela Edwards, a Fuqua grad, had many words of wisdom to share with BOW members about her experience as a minority in the business world. Her lecture walked the audience through her journey from a position working in retail at Sears to her current role as CFO of Victoria's Secret. She described her success as analogous to an iceberg, explaining, "What people tend to see is the tip of the iceberg. They do not see how you got there."BOW also welcomed Whitney Beckett, Director of Multichannel Direct-to-Consumer Merchandising at Cole Haan in New York City. Beckett explained how she found her current role by recognizing that she wanted to be in a growth area, which led her to digital work. She advised BOW members to find their passion by identifying something that does not feel like work, then then find a company that values those passions. Alongside her, BOW also hosted Hillary France, is a Duke grad who has transformed from a student athlete in Durham, NC into a small business co-founder thriving in a big city. Her company, Brand Assembly, is a platform that nurtures and elevates up-and-coming fashion designers by providing them with resources and support. Last to take the stage was Project Runway finalist, Justin LeBlanc, who, having been born deaf and relied on a cochlear implant to hear, inspired BOW members with his tories of self discovery and imagination. He urged BOW members to always value collaboration and working with passionate people regardless of what field we choose to pursue.

SBC 2016, 2015,  2014

How SBC Began

BOW'S very first Spring Business Conference took place in April 2014. The conference, which featured the theme "Social Media and Entrepreneurship," was hosted in conjunction with Duke's Business Society and established the precedence for many future SBC's to come. In the next year, BOW once again collaborated with Duke Business Society to bring the second iteration of the SBC to Duke, this time focusing on the theme "The Business of Sports." Leaders across various different sport functions were invited on campus to address BOW, the Duke community, and beyond. Then, in the third year, BOW once again brought SBC to Duke, bringing in higher-profile speakers for the conference. BOW's third Spring Business Conference, titled "Building the Brand," hosted Cotter Cunningham, CEO of RetailMeNot. The conference centered on developing a leadership brand through entrepreneurial ventures. Before hearing about how Mr. Cunningham developed his own personal brand in entrepreneurship, attendees heard from a panel of local students and entrepreneurs. 


In its early stages, SBC featured both men and women speakers; however, as the organization continued to expand and grow, a need for showcasing notable women leaders in became more important and more feasible to achieve. As such, though they follow the precedences set by earlier conferences, future SBC slowly began to shift the focus away from the business industry and business leaders in general, and toward the unique experience of women role models and women industry leaders in the business world.

Featured Events

Members of BOW's Executive Board plan diverse programming events for its membership. Duke BOW organizes various events throughout the year that focus on career development, network and community building, and exposure to a number of fields within the business world.



Discussion on
Micro-aggressions in the Professional World

BOW Diversity and Inclusion committee co-hosted a discussion dinner with Black in Business at Duke on March 30, 2019 to talk about minorities in the workplace. During the event, participants discussed micro-aggressions in professional settings and ways to cope with various stigmas in the business world.



Danielle Gray, SVP, Chief Legal Officer, & Corporate Secretary of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina

Danielle Gray came to speak to BOW members about her career in policy and public services. Danielle was a former partner at O’Melveny and Myers' NYC office and an economic policy advisor to President Obama. During the event, she shared with us her experience as a female working in White House and how mentorship and sponsorship have shaped her career. 



Current Events Panel

Over 30 BOW members gathered to attend the first-ever current events panel hosted by BOW Lean-In Committee and Women in Politics. The event aimed to educate members about the news, in the areas of tech, politics, and finance. Three upperclassmen Audrey KornkvenEmily Liu, and Samhitha Sunkara spoke on the panel to share their perspectives. The committee hopes to grow this programming in the future and continue to encourage familiarity with current events across BOW!




Fighting Gender Inequality Discussion Series

BOW Lean-in Committee hosted the first discussion of Fighting Gender Inequality Discussion Series, aiming to create an open space for BOW members to have conversations about challenges women face in workplace. Presenter Zoe Tang started by introducing two books Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and Brotopia by Emily Chang and led a fruitful discussion with a group of 20 BOW members about leadership ambition gap, imposter syndrome, and success and likability.




Q & A with Austin Reif, COO of Morning Brew

 BOW held a Q&A session with Austin Reif, COO of Morning Brew, a newsletter that aims to inform its subscribers of all relevant business news in the quickest and wittiest way. A recent college graduate himself—“hailing” from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business BBA program—he provided some insight into what it takes to curate a successful start-up. Spoiler alert: it’s no easy task. “I am always ‘on’,” he explains, further admitting he has not taken any breaks since Morning Brew started his sophomore year of college.




Fall Case Consulting Competition

Business Oriented Women and Duke Undergraduate Consulting Club co-hosted the first Annual Fall Case Competition. Procter & Gamble representatives challenged Duke students with a challenging case as students worked to analyze and develop strategies before presenting them. Congratulations to the winning team Anna Chulack, Ryan Corrigan, and Andrew Carlins and big thanks to all judges Grace Peterson, Jackie Xu,Rohan Sheth, Julia Samantha, Paulina Paras and Caroline Wang!

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