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Mount Holyoke's Business
and Technology Alumnae Mentors


  Analisa L. Balares '99
As an economics and mathematics major who is an old hand at econometrics and differential equations, Analisa L. Balares ’99 is fond of quoting statistics. Yet when she "talks numbers" about women’s performance in the business world, she feels anything but cheerful. Although women make up close to half the workforce in this country, according to a 2000 Catalyst census of women corporate officers and top earners, women represent only 12.5 percent of the corporate officers among all Fortune 500 companies. And women top earners represent a mere 4.1 percent of all top earners in the Fortune 500. (Catalyst is an organization dedicated to advancing women in business.) Balares, director of development and new ventures for Milestone Capital Management, has worked in high-technology investment banking at Goldman Sachs and is a veteran of the prestigious Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) training program. She wants to help Mount Holyoke students, 9 percent of whom over the past ten years have gone into finance upon graduation, buck corporate trends--giving them a competitive edge through mentoring, "in the trenches" career education, and networking opportunities.

Two years ago, Balares, Ekaterina V. Aleksandrova ’00, Yuliya S. Smyk ’00, Ayesha Vera Yu ’97, and some other Mount Holyoke friends founded the Mount Holyoke Business and Technology Alumnae Mentors, alumnae volunteers who help students and each other advance in the fields of business, finance, and technology. Its members often return to campus to present panel discussions on everything from how to secure an internship to the unspoken expectations of corporate culture. In March, the group, in collaboration with several student organizations and College departments, organized a business, finance, and technology conference on campus.

Says Balares, "Our goal was to bring the best practices from professional conferences for women, such as the annual Harvard Women in Business Conference and Columbia Women in Business Conference, Women in Wall Street Conference, and the 85 Broads conference. We also wanted to include the benefits and privileges of training from programs like SEO. These programs represent the highest standards, and we wanted students to benefit from them. They are rigorous, effective, and enable participants to be much more competitive, given the difficult market environment."

Close to sixty students took advantage of the Mount Holyoke conference’s industry tutorials and career panels on topics that included technology, law, investment management, media and entertainment, investment banking, advertising and marketing, nonprofit organizations, and venture capital, as well as opportunities to network with professionals in prominent positions within these and other fields. Said Nandita Singh ’03, "The panels were helpful and inspiring because of the ‘real’ advice we received from alumnae who have extremely successful careers." Among these alumnae were Yu, a vice president at BNP Paribas; Leylac M. Pekin ’00 of Duval & Stachenfeld LLP; Aleksandrova, of JP Morgan Chase’s Structured Finance Group; Smyk, of Morgan Stanley’s Commodities Trading Group; Raluca Z. Dalea ’01 of JP Morgan Fleming’s Investment Management Group; and Evguenia A. Sokolova ’01 of JP Morgan’s Global Risk Management Group.

Ninon Marapachi ’02 has already cracked the "difficult market environment" and also cofounded Mount Holyoke’s Finance Women’s Network with Sara Menker ’04. Marapachi, who majored in economics and minored in the fundamentals of problem solving, had a job secured at Merrill Lynch months before graduation. "I got an internship at Merrill Lynch in my sophomore year," she says. "By the time it was over, I realized that I wanted to work in the company’s equity derivatives department. It was the job I had always dreamed of: fast paced and challenging. Upon my return to Mount Holyoke, I organized the Financial Women’s Network to help others learn about the types of careers available in the financial sector. The network collaborated with the alumnae to organize the conference."

In summing up the conference, David Machowski, the College’s director of recruiting and employer relations, noted, "This event exemplifies how generous our alumnae are with their time and wisdom. On top of their extraordinarily busy lives, they are creating meaningful ways to connect with students." As the beneficiaries of this unique and personal form of investment, Mount Holyoke students are sure to profit.

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