Last year, a group of female Fordham students enlisted the help of Donna Rapaccioli, Ph.D., dean of College of Business Administration (CBA), to join with the Ivy League colleges Harvard, Yale and Columbia in opening campus chapters of a group that promotes women in business.
The non-profit group, Smart Woman Securities (SWS), was created three years ago to help build a new generation of women with greater investment knowledge, fiscal responsibility and financial influence.
“Their desire to start a Fordham chapter was inspiring to me, and I was delighted to support their efforts,” said Rapaccioli, who, as one of the youngest female deans of a major business school herself, has a personal interest in empowering women in finance. The campus chapter officially opened last semester.
With the help of the CBA, five of Fordham’s SWS students recently traveled to Nebraska with the group for two days of networking with the “Sage of Omaha,” Warren Buffett; the chief executive officer of TD Ameritrade, Joe Moglia, FCRH ’71; and other Fortune 500 executives. The opportunity to meet and talk with some of the nation’s most successful businesspersons was “a real privilege,” said Samantha Beattie, FRCH ’09.
“The trip gave us unprecedented availability to some really famous investors,” said Beattie, who majored in economics. “That’s extremely important for women interested in going into business, because networking is critical. Everybody has a mentor.”
Also in attendance were CBA seniors Anu Joseph and Candice Sorbera, CBA juniors Angela Luongo and Lily McGettigan, and some 20 women from the other three university chapters.
Following a day meeting one-on-one with business executives, the SWS contingent was treated by Buffett—one of the richest men in the world—to a special three-hour dinner at his favorite restaurant, Gorat’s Steak House. Beattie said she was surprised at how much exposure the group got to Buffett, who invited only one undergraduate group to the event designed for MBA students.
“He brought his daughter Suzy and he took the time to pose for pictures both with groups and individuals,” she said. And he even provided a “stock tip” – one that Beattie is keeping to herself.
The women spent their final day touring both the Berkshire Hathaway Company, the Nebraska Furniture Mart, and attending a Q&A session with Fortune 500 CEOS.
“It exposed us to a lot of really wonderful, helpful people,” said Beattie, who starts her first job as a college graduate at J.P. Morgan in July.
“The visit to Omaha was the culmination of a year’s worth of work, and was the experience of a lifetime for them,” said Rapaccioli, who hopes SWS initiatives will create continued opportunities for women at Fordham, including, perhaps, another trip to Omaha next year. “Meeting both Warren Buffett and Joe Moglia will be part of their personal history.”