Camilla Cabot, ’18, and Rachael Overland, ’19, wanted to give women more opportunities in the business school, so they started their own club, Women in Business.

“There was not really a place that was meant just for women to be mentored and develop as professionals,” Overland said.

She reached out to Cabot and suggested the idea of a business club for women, and Cabot immediately took to the idea.

“We both agreed that this type of resource was definitely needed,” Overland said. “We’re all so inspired by the many fantastic women that have supported and mentored us, and this helped build a structure that could bring those people together.”

The club was recently approved by the student development committee, and with the approval of the faculty board, will be initiated next year.

Overland is heavily involved in Alpha Kappa Psi, the business fraternity at the University of Richmond, and even though there are many female members, she found that women were not taking full advantage holding leadership roles in the Robins School. Cabot noticed the same thing, and wanted to take action.

“There’s only one woman that applied for the Robins School Student Government Association this year,” Cabot said. “We wanted to create a forum for women to be more comfortable, and help them feel like they can be more involved in the business school.”

Cabot and Overland reached out to Maura Alexander, visiting instructor with specialties in equity analysis, valuation, and financial modeling, to be the club mentor.

“I taught both Rachel and Camilla, and they reached out to me because of my experience working on Wall Street,” Alexander said. “The whole club, its concept and creation, was student-driven. Given their passion for this organization, I had to be a part of it.”

Cabot and Overland said the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements that have created the opportunity for women and men to discuss sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace inspired them as well.

“We want to prepare women for the reality of going into a professional position,” Overland said, “and give them a support network to combat some of the issues they might experience.”

Alexander agreed it is important to give women in business that avenue for discussion with their peers and mentors before they enter the professional world.

“The goal of the club is mentorship, and learning to build and maintain professional relationships in the workplace,” Alexander said. “The focus is on professionalism rather than any particular concentration, so it's about building an additional skill-set that transcends job or industry specifics.”

The two sent out a survey to spark interest in the club and its programming, and within two weeks they had 65 members sign up. The requirement for a new club is 10.

“We ideally want to set the club up to have a strong focus on mentorship,” Overland said. “We have invaluable resources here in the business school, so I think that creating those relationships can be crucial. Learn from their mistakes and experience, and hone in on the areas where women in business would benefit.”

The club is also open to all women on campus, which Cabot hopes will encourage other students to get involved.

“Every discipline needs soft skills before they enter the workplace, so we want to give that opportunity to other women across campus,” Cabot said.

As Cabot is a senior, she is set to graduate before the club’s official initiation.

“I was happy we could start this, I love that we created a place where freshmen and sophomore women can be mentored and prepared for internships and the professional world right away,” Cabot said.