OCC STEM women attend summit

Orange Coast College STEM women were chosen to attend a summit for the most powerful women. Thirty OCC women were able to go.

Thirty OCC women in STEM attended the annual Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit for an afternoon with women CEOs and top executives earlier this month  at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Laguna Niguel.

“We have a lot of top women in tech who attend our conference and it’s a chance to expose students to female leaders in the STEM fields,” Julie Schlosser, who helped organize the event said. “I invite the most interesting women who are attending the summit to mentor. If their schedules permit, they usually are thrilled to be part of it.”

Schlosser spent a decade as a reporter and editor at Fortune Magazine in New York, where she covered tech, management and retail. When she left to start her own company, she teamed up with a few other women at Fortune to create a mentoring program at Fortune’s annual Most Powerful Women Summit.

This year, top female executives from Electronic Arts, Boeing, Airbnb, Johnson & Johnson, Target, Match.com and Etsy were mentors.

“The summit celebrated its 20th year this October and it developed out of an annual [magazine] issue that ranked the top women in business,” Schlosser said.

Schlosser wanted to partner with OCC for this year’s event.  

“When I decided to move forward and partner with a community college, I went straight to OCC,” Schlosser said. “Dean Tara Giblin and I were connected randomly and she turned out to be the perfect partner on this event. She worked very hard over the summer to help me prepare for the event.”

Inspiration, encouragement, confidence and kindness was a common thread among the students who attended the event. To them, the mentorship experience was priceless.

“This summit empowered me to not just participate but to take action. Just being able to meet and interview these powerful, successful women gave me courage,” Sarah Ernst, a 22-year-old computer science major said.

Ernst said the mentor she most enjoyed speaking to was Linda Findley Kozlowski, COO of Etsy, who helped Ernst open her mind to possibilities, she said.

OCC STEM student Sare’ Barillas, 29, is an engineering major who plans to transfer for mechanical engineering with an emphasis in automotive technology.

“I was so inspired by all of these strong women who were able to thrive in the face of adversity and succeed in a male-dominated industry,” Barillas said.

Leanne Caret, vice president for Boeing, stood out to Barillas.

At one point in her career she said she was denied a promotion because men thought she smiled too much and couldn’t be taken seriously.

“Instead of changing who she was, she continued to persevere and eventually was promoted to a higher position than the men who doubted her,” Barillas said.

Executives from companies Barillas never considered applying for asked if she would be willing to relocate to Detroit or the Bay Area.

“It really opened my eyes to the opportunities and how many positions are overlooked,” Barillas said.

OCC STEM student Jasmine Le, 27, studies materials science and engineering.

“These women had goals and set out a pathway to reach them,” Le said.

“I really connected with Linda Findlay Kozlowski from Etsy. We talked about her leadership style and how even though she is departing from Etsy, her advice on leadership is that you always want to build a team that can survive and thrive without you,” she said.

Le also spoke with Susan Lyne from BBG Ventures about how to get funding. She said Lyne thinks women are the largest decision makers in most households when it comes to purchasing.

Every year the annual Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit inspires women in all fields to succeed in their chosen endeavors.

“I’ve been told by a few of this year’s mentors that [the OCC students] was the best group yet. Everyone was impressed by how prepared and mature the OCC students were,” Schlosser said.

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