The women on the panel presenting in the Sargent Hall Function Room on Dec. 2 had every reason to be there doling out advice to the audience of local businesswomen, Suffolk alumni, faculty, and students. These women sit at the top of their field, and were there to participate in the Institute for Executive Education's Life-Long Learning series—a program aimed at giving the Boston business community and the Suffolk community the chance to hear from successful people in leadership positions throughout several industries, including finance, law, non-profits, health care, life sciences, and retail.

December's event focused on Women Making a Difference in Retail, and the three women at the "head of the classroom" certainly fit the bill. There was Karen Hohler, president and founder of Whippoorwill Crafts; Robin Reibel, vice president for event development for Macy's East; and Rosemarie Sansone, President of the Downtown Crossing Partnership (a group that helped sponsor the event.)   During the two hour program, attendees had lunch, while Elizabeth Wilson, Associate Professor and Chairperson of the Sawyer Business School's Marketing Department, led the panel through discussions on specialty marketing, retail in the current economy, and general tips on becoming a successful woman in the industry.

Initially the Life-Long Learning Series was intended as a way to showcase alumni, says Julie Schniewind, director of corporate initiatives for the Institute for Executive Education, but the program soon expanded.   "It's not only to showcase graduates," says Schniewind, "but to let faculty, alumni, and students meet with and hear from many outstanding leaders in the major industries in Boston, while networking with other professionals." 

In the evaluation survey submitted by attendees, some expressed thanks for the advice and networking opportunities, while others were happy to hear the different perspectives of high ranked employees from both national and local businesses. One guest at the panel discussion even noted the importance of "learning from experience—especially in these [economic] times."