“Women at the Forefront of Change” Panel Offers Advice, Inspiration

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You may not know exactly what job is the perfect fit for you, but a keen sense of who you are and what is valuable to you will help ensure you find your path and enjoy the ride to success.

Always have a plan, but not one cast in concrete; be willing to pivot in your career, whether for personal or professional reasons.

That was some of the career advice offered by three successful business women at the UConn chapter of the National Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA) program Oct. 2 at the Graduate Business Learning Center in Hartford. The program was titled, “Women at the Forefront of Change.”

Nancy Lennert ’15 MBA started her career as an animator and was nominated for two Emmy Awards for her work on the Nickelodeon show Blue’s Clues. She was living in New York City and had a young child, but after 9/11, she decided she needed to change her life.

Lennert moved to Connecticut and, with her MBA, was able to join LEGO’s marketing team. She was recently promoted to Senior Project Manager for LEGO Retail. As her career has evolved, so too has the LEGO company. Her team is now responsible for the new “pop up” stores that LEGO is opening for the holiday season.

Emma Palmacci, director, Strategy for UTAS Space Systems, earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from MIT and went to work as a chemist. When the work wasn’t fulfilling, she pivoted away from chemistry and worked for Nerac in Tolland. She loved the entrepreneurial nature of the work, but after 10 years decided it was time for a change.

Palmacci then moved to the Research Center of United Technologies Corporation. An unanticipated layoff ended her run there, and forced her, for the first time, to evaluate what it meant to potentially not have a job. Luckily, she found a new position at UTAS–which is going through a merger with Rockwell Collins—allowing her to design her job, build her team, and plan for the next phase of her career.

Left to Right, Emma Palmacci, Nancy Lennert '15 MBA, Lucy Gilson, and Robin Fowler '97 during the 2018 NAWMBA Conference.
Left to Right, Emma Palmacci, Nancy Lennert ’15 MBA, Lucy Gilson, and Robin Fowler ’97 during the 2018 NAWMBA Conference.

Following a stint selling television advertising, Robin Fowler ’97 opened her own advertising agency that specialized in media buying, event planning and campaign design. She loved the work, especially meeting new people. But being her own boss required 80-hour work weeks and that didn’t fit well with a growing family.

Thinking she would have a more “traditional job,” Fowler switched to the insurance industry, where she is now assistant vice president at Wentworth, DeAngelis & Kaufman Insurance in Farmington. Her hours are still long, she said, and while selling insurance is not as “sexy,” she loves having a job that still allows her high levels of human interactions, which have defined her career success.

“All the speakers were inspiring, and embraced the idea that a career is a journey and you must be willing to grow and pivot, but never lose sight of the work that has meaning and that makes you happy,” said Professor Lucy Gilson, head of the management department and advisor to the UConn Chapter of NAWMBA.