A sellout crowd greeted speakers Whitney Wagoner, director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, and Ellen Schmidt-Devlin, director of the UO Sports Product Management Program, at the 11th Annual Women in Business Gala held April 13 at the University of Oregon’s Ford Alumni Center.
“It was great being able to reach capacity again,” said Sahar Petri, vice president of membership for Women in Business, a student club within the Lundquist College of Business with the goal of supporting and increasing female enrollment within the college. “We had 205 attendees last year and reached capacity by selling out all 21 tables this year.”
Interest in the event has grown steadily over time, and in 2015 the club moved the gala from the atrium at Lillis Business Complex to the ballroom at the Ford Alumni Center to accommodate growing attendance. This year, 104 students joined 104 professionals for an evening of inspiration, information sharing, and celebration.
“We chose the theme ‘The Next Chapter’ because we completed our 11th year as a club and our 11th annual gala this year was the beginning of the next decade—a decade in which we hope to grow and evolve the club to even greater heights,” said Petri.
Keynote speaker Ellen Schmidt-Devlin, a 27-year Nike veteran, told a motivational story about a literal slip up during her time as a collegiate runner under legendary coach Bill Bowerman. She fell during an important race she was favored to win. But she got back up. She won that race the following year.
Even as a protégé of Bowerman himself, in her career Schmidt-Devlin encountered pushback from some who thought a women could not be successful as a high-level manager at Nike. She recalled one particular comment a male colleague made about how a woman could not be successful in business in Korea.
“My last job at Nike,” Schmidt-Devlin said, “was his job.”
The gala is a trademark event for the club, but club members keep very busy all year. Major site visits this academic year included the NFL Network, 72andSunny, and GUESS—all in Los Angeles. Another site visit to Seattle included the Seattle Mariners baseball club, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and PWC.
The club has approximately 100 active student members. Students from all majors are welcome.
Women in Business Club