Investigative Beat Reporter
Last year, senior Simona Nanda came to two realizations: one, there were no female-centered business clubs on campus, and two, she was going to change that.
“I couldn’t find anything so I thought, ‘Okay, I’m going to start it myself,’” Nanda said.
Now, Nanda serves as the president of the first Women in Business (WIB) club at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB). She works with her team of nine officers, each position filled by a female student leader. These ten women work together to invest in future businesswomen at UCSB, offering members everything from professional headshots to internship opportunities.
“One of my biggest goals for this club is to create a community where students can inspire one another,” Nanda said. “We want women to know how to negotiate and know what they deserve.”
After transferring to UCSB, Nanda sought out a strong community. She knew she wanted to explore the field of business, yet UCSB didn’t offer a major for it — Nanda became even more determined to create a place for women with common ground.
“Part of the college experience is having a community where people help you,” Nanda said. “A huge part of business is networking, and in order to network you need to know other people.”
Nanda met her fellow officers in a variety of ways. The vice president of operations, Genelise Hazen, was one of the first onboard. Hazen held a similar desire to form a WIB club and the two collaborated extensively. Other officers filtered in, some taking on roles during their first-ever social.
One of these leaders is Erica Dennis, the head of social media for WIB. Dennis runs all social media channels, with an emphasis on Instagram. She is currently in the process of crafting the WIB website.
“I really want to go into some graphic design field, so this is a position that is really beneficial for creating some sort of portfolio geared towards that,” Dennis said.
Dennis grew up surrounded by powerful men, with her father serving as a chief financial officer. She believes these experiences have shaped her views on the role of gender in business.
“He’s very man-in-charge and I think that can be intimidating for a lot of women, especially those who are not related to somebody like that,” Dennis said. “We really wanted to create an environment where people felt like equals.”
The club plans to discuss issues businesswomen face, such as the pay gap and the difficulty to enter male-dominated spaces. In the process, they hope to uplift female leaders at UCSB.
“Just having a WIB club means empowerment. It means support, it means community. I feel like business can feel like a one-man show sometimes, and we wanted to create the opposite,” Dennis said.
After attending the first official meeting of WIB, sophomore Lea Hunt is eager to learn more about the organization.
“I thought it was a really interesting and inclusive experience,” Hunt said. “I would prefer concrete advice in the future, but it was very engaging.”
After finishing the first meeting, Nanda was enthusiastic. She looks forward to creating deeper bonds with a group of hardworking individuals.
“A year from now, I see it being a really tight-knit community. My goal is not numbers, it’s connections,” Nanda said.