Johnson Women in Business—A Day For and About Women

Prospective and current students, alumni, faculty, and staff took time to share experiences, network, and learn

Johnson Women in Business—A Day For and About Women

—by Pallavi Rao

It was a day for women, by women with a resounding message - women need to be on the same footing as men, and receive the same encouragement, recognition, and respect. The annual Johnson Women in Business event brought together Johnson students, alumni, and prospective students from varied backgrounds and countries to share their experiences, while exploring the benefits of earning an MBA.

The two-day event included a special set of sessions: the Johnson Women’s Leadership Conference, on October 17. Janet Carr, MBA ’90, president of the handbag division at Nine West Group, was the keynote speaker for the conference, and shared her story during the Women’s Power Lunch.  Carr manages an integrated global business with more than $160 million in annual revenues, with a presence in over 70 countries, across brands such as Nine West, Anne Klein, and Rafe.

During her talk, titled Unleashing your Greatness,” Carr recounted her rise in the corporate world and the chances she took to get there. Her story began when she decided to pursue an MBA – tired of following deer as a Zoologist. Although she admits that her career path was not defined, she got into several interesting and risky roles, which helped her determine her career focus.

“The problem was I loved everything,” Carr said. This led her into a chemical company, then to Booz & Co as a consultant, onto business development in Safeway, then as a strategist to Banana Republic, Coach and Ghurka (men’s luxury leather brand), before she began her role in Nine West.

Carr shared four significant lessons she learned on her career journey:

  • Lead with your strengths: It’s important to distinguish between the things at which you are good and those that you like
  • Networks work: “I got all my jobs through networking,” Carr said.
  • Build your team: Mentoring and being a role model can help build a team of people that will follow you. “Do not micromanage,” she says.
  • Be lucky: “Try something, take chances. Sometimes the best laid paths don’t pan out.”

Learn all you can, Carr advised, but ultimately, “Everything I just said doesn’t matter,” she said.  Everyone’s idea of a fulfilling life is different, and it’s important to make time for the people you love.  

Carr closed on a serious note—gender inequality in the business world. After five decades of feminist agendas, women still struggle to find their rightful seat at their workplaces.  Carr gave an example, Janet Yellen, first woman chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, who is not the highest paid employee in her organization.

— Pallavi Rao is marketing and communications intern at Johnson

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