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Jul 2016

ROMBA Student Leader Profile: Lev Eldemir

Posted by / in LGBTQ BUSINESS STUDENT BLOG / No comments yet

In addition to Reaching Out’s staff, each year the Reaching Out LGBT MBA & Graduate Conference’s content is developed and produced by MBA & graduate students from schools across the world. These core group of the students working on the ROMBA Conference are known as the “Student Leadership Committee.”  The Leadership Committee comes up with the conference’s theme, ideates all breakout sessions, and is seen prominently on the ground at the conference!

Over the next few weeks we’ll highlight each of this year’s 11 organizers and share some of their tips for those planning to attend this year’s ROMBA Conference in Dallas (Oct 6-8)!  Not only will they tell you what they are most excited about for this year’s conference, but they’ll also give inbound LGBT MBA students tips on the summer internship search & experience!

Name: Lev Eldemir

School (Program/Concentration): Columbia Business School (Full Time, Strategy / Management)

Summer Internship:  Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices – Marketing Leadership Development Program Intern; U.S. Marketing, Biosurgery; Somerville, NJ

How did your first year in business school prepared you for your summer internship?
Specifically, an elective course – Marketing Research & Analytics – provided me with a solid foundation in market research methods to hit the ground running.

What experience(s) do you hope to take away from your Internship this summer?
With no previous experience in Marketing, I hope to gain a firm understanding of the strategic/business planning aspect within a Marketing role. I also am very excited to see how marketers leverage data to formulate insights that inform their strategy. Separately, working within Healthcare, I am excited to understand the thought processes of surgeons in different specialties and how J&J engages them to develop new products.

What’s the most valuable piece of advice going into summer internships you can offer the Class of 2018?
Relax and be ok with not knowing things. Identify who will be strong resources for you and be proactive about asking questions – never spin your wheels. Also, remember that as an MBA student, you likely have a strong track record – believe in your ability to learn quickly, draw upon your previous work and school experiences, and make an impact with your projects.

What are you most excited about for 2016 ROMBA Conference?
Continuing to make new connections and reconnecting with friends I made last year.

Any advice you have for people going into the ROMBA Conference for the first time?
Understand what your priorities are and stay focused – whether that’s networking with companies, building relationships with other MBA students, exploring different job opportunities, and/or engaging in interesting panel discussions. Fun is also encouraged, but keep it classy. Don’t let a hangover prevent you from engaging in the awesome content and with professionals & students! Lastly, don’t be too clicky with your school -meet new people! It will not only be beneficial to you in the future, but it will also strengthen the LGBTQ community as a whole. ROMBA is truly such a unique and empowering experience.

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Jun 2015

LGBT MBA Club Focus: Columbia Business School’s “Trans 101″ Training

Posted by / in LGBTQ BUSINESS STUDENT BLOG / No comments yet

Guest blog by Chris Riha, Co-President Cluster Q, Columbia Business School‘s LGBT group.

Two years ago, Columbia University student Marnie Florin launched a “Trans 101” training for the MBA community to better educate us about the issues facing the transgender community.   We were very lucky to have Marnie initiate this training, in addition to pushing for a gender neutral bathroom, as beforehand the concept of transgender was not a topic of conversation.

Even though Marnie has graduated, Cluster Q is proud to continue Marnie’s training as an annual tradition.   We incorporate this training into our semi-annual Ally Week, which is geared towards engaging our ally community in educational and social programming.

The training itself is broken into a few sections: First, we help attendees understand the key differences between gender identity, gender expression, biological sex, and sexual orientation and describe how those concepts are independent from one another.   For example, It is common for attendees to have made assumptions that a certain gender identity may then implies a certain sexual orientation.  This untangles those assumptions.

Second, we define some key vocabulary and highlight some terms that are inappropriate.   Many people haven’t sat down and learned the differences between terms like, “transgender”, “intersex”, “genderqueer”, etc.  Plus, it’s helpful to hammer home what no-no words exist.

Third, we do a demonstration to highlight what it feels like for someone to be addressed in conversation with the wrong pronouns to then teach gender inclusive pronouns.  Generally this means bringing up a cisgender audience member and having a facilitator mock a conversation where they use the opposite gender pronoun throughout to highlight the types of conversations many transgender or genderqueer people experience

Finally, we ask the audience to engage in an exercise that powerfully exhibits the extra hardship the transgender community experiences.

The training tends to have a very powerful effect on students as many attend out of simple curiosity and walk away having learned quite a bit.

Although Columbia is fortunate enough to have another transgender student currently, I would strongly encourage all business school (or really anyone!) to lead a similar training even without having an open student.  The logic is threefold.  First, just because a student isn’t openly transgender doesn’t suggest that there aren’t students on campus that keep their gender identity to themselves.  Students could be struggling with gender identity discrimination or insensitivity behind closed doors.  Second, it is Columba’s hope that this training sends the message that we want to create a space where transgender students will be openly accepted into the community.  Finally, the statistics around the amount of discrimination transgender people face in the workplace are staggering.  If MBA programs truly aim to create the next generation of professional leaders, we should be leaders equipped to work towards ending that workplace discrimination.

We are continuing to look for ways to make Columbia more trans-friendly.  This training is only one example of such work.  As Co-President of Cluster Q, I strongly urge anyone with other programs or ideas to comment here and share what is working on your campus so we can learn from you.  In turn, I am more than happy for anyone to reach out to me to see more specifics about our training or the process of adding a gender neutral bathroom.


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