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Courageous Leadership: The 2022 Tuck Women in Business Conference

The 2022 Tuck WIB co-chairs reflect on this year’s theme: Courageous Leadership.

The 18th annual Tuck Women in Business Conference will be held in person in Hanover, October 21–23, 2022.

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Each year, Tuck welcomes attendees from all over the world to campus for a two-day immersion in the Tuck MBA experience, offering mock classes, workshops, panel discussions, networking and development opportunities, social activities, and small group dinners.

This year’s conference will feature keynote speakers Rena Harper T’09, global people leader and executive coach, and Valeria Aloe T’04, a speaker, award-winning author of Uncolonized Latinas: Transforming Our Mindsets And Rising Together, and the founder of the Rising Together Movement. 

Courageous Leadership, the theme of the 2022 Tuck WIBC, is inspired by leaders who have the strength to take risks and conquer challenges while empowering others. Attendees will explore who we are, how we authentically lead with courage and conviction, and how we can empower future women leaders.

Meet this year’s WIBC co-chairs—T’23s Lynsey Kirby, Stefanie Nifenecker, Pranali Sabale, and Sherry Yang—who reflect on courageous leadership and what makes the Tuck experience distinct.

Lynsey Kirby T’23

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Courageous Leadership is the idea that challenging what we know takes strength, but if we do, we can lift everyone up around us.

In 2019, I boarded the Dartmouth Coach in Boston with low expectations for my weekend in the Upper Valley. A former mentor and colleague had suggested I apply for WIBC 2019, but I knew very little about an MBA and almost nothing about Hanover or Tuck. However, once I stepped off the bus in front of the Hanover Inn, I was surrounded by energetic Tuckies ready to guide us to campus. While my guard was still up, from that moment on I could tell the Tuck community was something I’d never experienced before.

WIBC 2019 touched on so many different aspects of the Tuck experience. I was so surprised by how engaged I felt sitting in a marketing class. I was constantly impressed by how the Tuck community continuously showed up for us throughout the weekend. From Tuck Tails to alumni and current student panels to local hikes, I started to feel like a member of the Tuck community. 

I still vividly remember my favorite part of WIBC 2019: Tuck Tails. It was a cold and rainy day, and we gathered around the warm fire in Cohen. I was talking with fellow prospective students, speculating on what could be so special and different about the people we were about to hear from versus the people we’d heard from all day. However, it didn’t take long after the first person started sharing that I realized this is a true example of the tight-knit community fostered at Tuck. Four students demonstrated their strength and vulnerability to share their stories with 100 prospective students not even in the Tuck community. 

Before going to WIBC 2019, I couldn’t imagine leaving my job and going back to school. I was happy in my current role, found friends in my colleagues, and didn’t think I was MBA-material. I was scared to leave the comfort of my life in Boston because I was afraid to fail. However, during WIBC 2019 I saw myself as a member of the Tuck community and when I hopped back on the bus back to Boston, I hoped I’d be back. 

Taking the leap to apply and go to Tuck challenged my status quo. However, after my first year here, I can proudly reflect on my experiences so far and see how I’ve grown not only individually, but how I’ve pushed my classmates to do the same. 

Lynsey is a second-year student at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. At Dartmouth, in addition to her role as a WIB co-chair, Lynsey is a Leadership Development Fellow, a co-chair of the Tuck Sailing Club, and a member of Tuck Tripod Hockey. This past summer, Lynsey interned at McKinsey & Company in their Boston office, focused on working with clients in the mergers and acquisitions function area.

Prior to Tuck, Lynsey grew up on the CT shoreline before attending Boston College where she majored in mathematics and economics. She worked in investment management focused on the endowments of non-profit organizations. Outside of academics, Lynsey enjoys hanging out with her puppy Rooney, hiking and skiing near the Upper Valley, and checking out local farms and breweries.

Stefanie Nifenecker T’23

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I hope we can create an opportunity for women to share their stories of leading courageously, through successes and failures, and ultimately encourage and equip our future leaders to have the courage to stand up in meaningful moments.

After spending my entire pre-MBA career in financial consulting, an intense, male-dominated field, I have dealt with many challenging scenarios where I was faced with the decision to step up and lead courageously or stand by passively. When considering a topic for the conference, a theme became clear after sharing our personal stories—women in business often finding themselves in positions of leadership that require immense courage to stand up and speak on behalf of others. 

My first experience leading courageously in the workplace began when I was managing a team that was under an extremely tight project timeline that reported to a notoriously difficult partner. The team members were under increasing pressure from the partner, and I could see they were burnt out and losing motivation because of the partner’s behavior. I was concerned that team members might quit or would receive poor performance reviews from this partner. I decided it was time for me to step up and speak to senior management before the situation got any worse. Although I did experience retaliation from that partner after speaking up, I will never regret my decision. This challenge forged a pathway for me to practice embracing courageous leadership and gave me the confidence to continue speaking up when people are being mistreated.

More often than not, there are very few female leaders in the room where decisions are being made. Having the strength to speak up and share the perspectives of those who are not able to represent themselves in that space requires extraordinary courage. Throughout my time at Tuck, I have seen the value of working within a strong, diverse, and personally invested community and I plan to take the lessons I’ve learned here to each step of my future career.

Through this conference, I hope we can create an opportunity for women to share their stories of leading courageously, through successes and failures, and ultimately encourage and equip our future leaders to have the courage to stand up in meaningful moments.

Stefanie is a second-year student at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. At Tuck, she serves as the WIB Conference Co-Chair for Fundraising & Finance and is also highly involved within the LIFT (low-income/first-generation) student group.

Stefanie grew up in New Jersey and spent her undergraduate years in South Carolina while completing her degree in accounting. After undergrad, Stefanie moved to Manhattan to join KPMG and obtained her CPA license. Prior to Tuck, Stefanie worked at a financial consulting firm, where she most recently held the role of interim financial controller for a $9.5B airport infrastructure project. From the start of her career, she has dealt with high-pressure, male-dominated working environments that were often hostile towards young female professionals. Since then, Stefanie’s goal has been to drive changes that will make the industry a safer space for women, which led her to launch the Network of Women affinity group at her previous firm. Over the summer, Stefanie interned at BCG New York, primarily working within the private equity practice, and plans to return to the concrete jungle after completing her MBA in the Upper Valley.

Pranali Sabale T’23

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Courageous Leadership is something very personal to me as my life so far has been an amalgamation of short stories of courage over fear. When the unknown was petrifying, I walked on the path of courage, choosing to make brave decisions.

My journey with Tuck began in 2019. Though I couldn’t attend the Women in Business Conference that year due to travel, I was able to connect with Tuck students that winter who traveled to India over their winter break. My first conversation with a group of Tuckies made me fall in love with this community and I was sold on the idea of pursuing my MBA at Tuck.

On August 5, 2021, I landed in the USA, the most developed nation. Many people come here with the hope that this land will accept them with open arms and provide opportunities to pursue their dreams. I too came with aspirations to explore the unexplored, and hustle while achieving the unachievable dream. I was not only overwhelmed but scared of the uncertainty that lay ahead. It was my first international journey, and everything around me was too overwhelming. I got on the Dartmouth coach while wondering about the new possibilities awaiting me. Once I reached campus, my fear vanished instantaneously when someone from the admissions team offered me a quick tour of the dorms while helping me with my heavy luggage. And instantly, a small gesture made me feel at home. I knew I would be taken care of by this community.

Through this conference, I hope people not only take home the same feeling and regard that we hold for this community, but also discover how to choose courage over fear during small or big decisions in their personal and professional lives. We are excited to hear their stories of courage, share ours and build a sisterhood that will make one feel at home while diving through the challenges of life.

Pranali is a second-year MBA student at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. She handles responsibilities as co-chair, WIB conference, 2022 for marketing and promotions. She also serves as co-chair for Tuck Mentors Club and leadership for Mental Health and Wellness Initiative. 

Pranali grew up in India. She did her undergrad in mechanical engineering and later worked with an automotive firm in India for over 5 years primarily handling responsibilities in new product development, operations, and a tiny part of the supply chain management. She was the only female engineer among the group of 107 male engineers. At her workplace, she witnessed facets of patriarchal dominance that woke her to an unequal world. She decided to give her voice a platform while she created an online blogging site to write about social ills, ethos, and stigmas via storytelling.

Over the summer, Pranali interned at Amazon, primarily handing middle mile transportation network while contributing to Amazon’s climate pledge.

Sherry Yang T’23

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There’s a leader within all of us. Under turbulent circumstances, courageous leaders rise to the occasion and use adversity as an opportunity for growth, and they bring others along for the journey.

My story with Tuck started at WIBC 2019, I recall driving down to Hanover from Toronto (a nine-hour drive) and living in Whittemore for the weekend. From the moment I got to campus, I was overwhelmed by the energy, the warmth, and the feeling that I belonged. I recall walking with a T’20 on a walk that would typically take five minutes, but ended up taking 30 minutes because we stopped and had a conversation with literally everyone we saw. That’s when I saw the beauty of Tuck: the tight-knit environment lived and breathed through every Tuckie, current and alumni. My favorite activity was Tuck Talks where all 100 of us huddled near the fireplace at Cohen and current Tuckies shared their courage, their authenticity, and vulnerabilities with us through their inspiring stories. This experience reminded me to reflect on my own journey and to identify the courageous leader inside of me. 

Ever since I was young, I continuously pushed myself beyond boundaries and used new environments to mold myself into the person I am today—someone who embraces new challenges with a fearless attitude. My parents’ emphasis on exploring hobbies outside of school fueled my inquisitive nature. And having witnessed my father’s unyielding drive when he grew his business into a household name, I developed the confidence, courage, and resilience to excel outside my comfort zone. At work, I was able to foster relationships with mentors who sponsored my development, advocated for my success, and spotlighted my potential. From this, I developed the courage to excel knowing I had a support system to catch me if I fall and I wanted to pay it forward to support the next generation of women leaders. 

Reflecting on my first year at Tuck, I’ve grown confident in my capabilities and pursuing my passions. I’ve gained a strong support system to courageously tackle challenges and developed as a leader who empowers others.

Sherry is a second-year MBA student at the Tuck School of Business. Outside of WIB, she is a health care fellow, a PEVC fellow, a leadership development fellow, a TVSF director, an ASW and WIBC co-chair, and an ABC co-chair. She loves making macarons, yoga, and dancing.

Prior to Tuck, Sherry worked in the health care industry focused on drug licensing, consulting, and executing market entrance strategies in the US and emerging markets to reshape the perceptions of cannabis as a consumer retail product. Sherry received her Bachelor of Health Sciences and a Master’s in biomedical discovery and commercialization from McMaster University (Canada). Throughout her career journey, she has worked in male-dominated non-diverse environments where proactively speaking out was not always met with positive reactions. Having lived through experiences like these, she wants to be involved in more DEI initiatives at Tuck to add representation and empower more women. This past summer, Sherry interned at J.P. Morgan’s health care investment banking team.