A panel of female business representatives spoke at the University of Connecticut on Feb. 19 as part of an event titled “Women Empowering Women: Advocating for Yourself and Others.” The event was hosted by UConn Women in Business and was held in the UConn Student Union Theater. About 30 people attended the event, which was open to all majors.

Allison Eastwood, Karen Nash, Kara Paganini, Jennifer Porcelli and Axelle Roosen all hold top positions at various finance and insurance business in Connecticut, such as Cigna, Synchrony, Altria, Gartner and NatWest Markets, respectively. Susan Winkler, Vice President and Executive Director of Connecticut Insurance and Financial Services, served as a moderator for the panel.

The event was structured as a Q&A between the panelists and Winkler, where they answered questions about their biggest obstacles in their careers, finding a good mentor and how they managed to obtain such successful positions in professions that are typically male-dominated. They stressed being an advocate for yourself at work and building your own credibility.

The seats where the panelists sat for the discussion. Photo: Kara Murray

“Say yes to opportunities,” Paganini said. “Be an observer in order to contribute. Understand your role at the table.”

During the last 15 minutes of the discussion, the panelists took questions from the audience, which was mostly made up of female students who were also looking to go into the business field after graduation.

The audience members asked questions about how to build their own brands, be assertive but not aggressive, as well as whether or not any of the panelists had experienced discrimination at any point in their careers.

The discussion ended with the panelists giving some final words of general advice to the audience.

“Get out of your comfort zone,” Nash said.

“Work hard, network, be true to yourself, and grab opportunities,” Roosen said.

“Own your mistakes and try to come up with possible solutions,” Eastwood said.