Fatima Chahine uses course lessons to help build new Women in Business campus organization

11/5/2018

Chahine launched the new student org — which already has a roster of nearly 70 — after doing her own market research and looking at potential member ROI.

Before you build a successful business, Fatima Chahine said people have to believe in your product or mission first. And the supply chain management junior applied the same approach when developing a student organization.

The newly created Women In Business registered student organization began this fall and currently has a roster of nearly 70, a full e-board and an active event calendar.

So how did Chahine go from idea to active organization in only a couple of months? She credits unofficial market research and cost-benefit analysis — she asked colleagues, students and friends about what type of group would have a good ROI for their time — and went from there.

“We are all busy — most students work while taking classes, some of us have family responsibilities on top of that. So what can we build that gives the right exchange of value for the time?” said Chahine, who balances a full course load, an internship at Robert Bosch North America and family obligations.

Chahine said people shared that networking and resume building was a priority, so Women in Business meetings take place around career fairs or events like the College of Business' Women in Entrepreneurship Week (WEW) so members can exchange business cards and interact with professionals.

Group members also said they want to talk to women in the workforce about how to handle difficult situations like harassment and discrimination; as well as get answers to everyday questions like what clothing is appropriate in various professional settings. So, for future meetings, Chahine will bring in guest speakers to have these conversations.

Otherwise, they keep connected through an active online forum. “Why have a meeting for the sake of having a meeting?” she said. “If we meet, there needs to be an equal or greater value of the time we are giving.”

It’s not a typical format for an organization, but Chahine said she wasn’t looking for typical. She was interested in creating an environment where members would — and could — participate. She wanted Women in Business to reach people so that they could get the relevant information they may need to keep moving down their chosen career path.

“I’ve been in some of my supply chain classes and meetings where I’ve been the only female. That can sometimes mess with your mind. Even though you know you are in the right field, you can start to doubt yourself when you don’t see anyone else that looks like you,” she said. “When I spoke to others, I found I’m not the only one that’s been there — that happens in so many career fields. I want people to realize that this does happen, but it doesn’t mean you should change what you are doing. Instead, work to create more diversity in your environment.”

The organization is open to all across campus — all colleges, majors, ages, genders. Chahine said everyone, regardless of career interest, will likely work in a business environment.

They may need to know how to organize an event, speak publically, moderate a conversation — that’s something Chahine did for the first time at last month’s WEW panel event — or navigate a challenging situation professionally. And Chahine wants to set members up for success.

“I think in terms of process, maybe that’s why I enjoy supply chain so much, and this organization works as a step in developing professional success,” she said. “And the more successful we are, the stronger businesses — either the ones we create or the ones we join — will be.”

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