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Women leaders speak at Women’s Leadership Conference at Rice University

More than 150 women attended the 8th annual Women in Leadership Conference at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Management on February 8, 2008.
 
The event, which was organized by the Rice chapter of National Association of Women MBAs, included two renowned women in business as keynote speakers, Janet Gurwitch, president and CEO of Gurwitch Products LLC, parent company of Laura Mercier Cosmetics, and Lynn C. Brown, the vice president of corporate communications at Waste Management, Inc.
 
Gurwitch opened the conference by presenting her path to success which led her to the top of Neiman Marcus as executive VP before founding Gurwitch Products. In her compelling and inspirational story, participants learned of her initial challenges: funding her company’s beginning and developing a marketing strategy for its growth. After discovering the talent of famed French make-up artist, Laura Mercier, Gurwitch finally implemented an expansion plan that led to its status as one of the most prestigious and successful cosmetic lines in the world. The Laura Mercier line is available in more than 600 stores in 25 countries, and in 2007, cumulatively grossed $185 million at retail.
 
To the audience’s surprise, Gurwitch also announced that late yesterday, she resigned from the Stafford, Texas based company she co-founded. She explained that it was time for something different in her life. After being asked why she was so successful, she replied, “I like to quote Oprah Winfrey about that. Was it luck? ‘It was luck met with preparation and opportunity’.”
 
Lynn C. Brown of Waste Management, Inc. served as the luncheon keynote speaker. She focused on the theme of the conference “Inspire, Initiate, Impact” to show how she and her team communicated the history and positioning of Waste Management as the leading provider of comprehensive waste and environmental services in North America. Through strategic internal and external communications, programs like the Think Green campaign, she helped to shape WM as a powerful key player and supporter of sustainability. She also admitted that while it can be hard to find inspiration in the business of trash, “when you focus on tomorrow, you’ll have the ability to be inspired and create change.”
 
The event, which provided present and future women business leaders with a unique forum to exchange ideas about their professional experiences, included panel breakout session on various business issues faced by women. The Rice Chapter of NAWMBA is dedicated to empowering graduate women in business in order to propel more women into leadership positions in corporate America and to enhance diversity in the workplace.  For more information about NAWMBA, please e-mail nawmba@rice.edu.