GGU’s Women in Leadership Series and Why It Matters


By Marianne Koch, PhD
Associate Dean, Ageno School of Business

We believe that GGU’s annual Women in Leadership event is valuable for women in the San Francisco Bay area at the start of careers in business, law, or entrepreneurship. Open both to the GGU community and the public, this event gives attendees the chance to learn directly from real-world experiences of highly successful and entrepreneurial women.

Marianne Koch

Held in the evening, the Women in Leadership event includes Q&A with panelists, networking with old friends and new acquaintances, and food and drink.  Since its launch five years ago, panelists and moderators – most of whom are GGU alumnae – have included executive-level women from Franklin Templeton Investments, Sequoia Capital, Salesforce, and Yahoo!; entrepreneurs from Lamano Law and Strategy Squad Insurance Services; and public servants from the SF Employees’ Retirement System, SF Child Support Services, and the State Board of Equalization.

This Year’s Event: Sharing Life and Career Experience

Last month, I moderated the fifth iteration of this event, which featured (pictured, left to right) Helen Fanucci, Global Windows Sales Leader, Microsoft Corporation; Nicole Middleton (MS, Financial Planning ’17), CEO of Strategy Squad Insurance Services, and Hazel Blackhart (JD ’08), Group Product Manager, Hematology at Genentech.

To get us started, I asked the panelists to tell us about some decisions they had made – both good and bad in terms of results – and what they learned from them. Their candid responses addressed the fallout from poorly timed decisions, finding the courage to take on assignments that they believed they weren’t quite ready for, and finding a trustworthy mentor who lit the path for them. From my place at the podium, I observed smiles, heads nodding in approval, and outbursts of applause of support from all.

Audience members took turns asking questions and sharing their perspectives on a host of topics related to women at work. Many questions were personal (“I’ve just been promoted to management and I have no role models; what do I do?”), or bold (“How do you deal with men coming on to you inappropriately at work?”). Audience comments were tremendously helpful and resources were shared as well. As in earlier years, the support and interest made for a useful and warm experience.

Women in Leadership organizers (left to right): Amina Kasumov (Enrollment Manager, GGU), Kendra Calvert (Director, Admissions, and Recruitment, GGU) and Marianne Koch.

Although growth in the number of women in leadership positions in the U.S. is extremely slow, events like these serve as a catalyst for that to change – and we are proud to be part of it.

Photo Credit: Jenny LeMaster


About Dr. Marianne Koch

Dr. Marianne Koch is an educator, human resources manager and consultant with experience in designing and delivering educational programs, and managing and consulting in the fields of human resource management and labor relations. She has worked in a variety of venues to help managers improve how they manage people at work, help organizations understand, clarify and improve practices for the management of people at work, and research and write about such issues as collaboration, work / family practices, and the relationship of human resource management practices to productivity. Dr. Koch is the Associate Dean of the Ageno School of Business, HR Program Director and also a Professor of Management.

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