A Snapshot of Austin with Women in Business

This past winter break, 15 students in the Women in Business club embarked on a journey to Texas to conduct site visits at local companies around the Austin area.

I’m going to start out with a confession. Before landing, I had a pretty stereotypical view of what I thought Austin was going to be like. I was expecting ten-gallon hats and ranches everywhere. But after we got the opportunity to explore the first couple of days, it felt like I was home in Portland, with just a few extra y’alls sprinkled in.

One stereotype that ended up being real is the southern hospitality. Everywhere we went, people welcomed us warmly. The day we landed was the same night as the Heisman ceremony and when we went to dinner, different people kept congratulating us on the success of the team and seemed just as excited as we were to hear the announcement. This was a scenario that continued throughout the whole week, everywhere we went, and put into focus that the University of Oregon is not only a school, but a national brand on the rise.

Our site visits started off with IBM, where we got a tour of the design center, a place where recent innovations like the Watson supercomputer have been created. Along with the tour we got to talk with three different women in the company during a “speed mentoring” session. During that session the piece of advice that stuck with me the most was to find three times in your life where you felt on top of the world. Then look at those moments and see what trend appears within these moments. Use these characteristics in your reflection for future career paths.

Later on we headed to Whole Foods, whose headquarters are in Austin. Whole Foods has been on Fortune’s 100 best companies to work for list for 18 consecutive years and once you get there you see exactly why. The company has a strong focus on culture and retaining talent, which they believe overall creates a better work product. Andres, the HR director, told us during his presentation that he moved his family blocks away from the headquarters years before he even worked there because he wanted to be part of the company that much. Another employee told us he studied mechanical engineering but working for Whole Foods ruined every corporate culture he worked for. The company pushes its employees to find the overlap between passion and talent and I left that meeting inspired to look for companies that practice “conscience capitalism.”

The whole week, when we visited other companies like Dell or GSD&M, we realized how important company culture is. In your lifetime, you will spend more time in the workplace than with your actual family, so why waste your time in a place that doesn’t inspire you to be there? Each company showed that, with the combination of initiative and passion, you could be successful in whatever career path you are after.

But really the best part of the trip was going through all of this with my fellow club members. I knew very little of the women before going and by the end of the week I was so inspired in different ways by all of them.

If you’re looking to get involved, Women in Business meet on Tuesdays at 6pm in Lillis 245. No matter what your interests are in the Lundquist College of Business, take the time be active in any of the clubs, you won’t regret it.

Written by spetri@uoregon.edu

Sahar Petri is a sophomore from Portland studying Business Administration and Media Studies. Sahar is currently interning for O Heroes and hopes to work in community relations when she graduates in 2017.