Alumni Women's Roundtable draws crowd at UO Portland

Panelists at Alumni Women's Roundtable
Panelists at Alumni Women's Roundtable

This year's 4th annual UO Alumni Women’s Roundtable drew a record turnout of almost 100 attendees earlier this month for a panel presentation that focused on negotiating for pay, promotion and flexibility.

The roundtable, held at the White Stag Block, was free for UO students and 2012 graduates and open to the public with a registration fee. Its four-woman panel – all UO alums – came from a variety of professional backgrounds.

Megan Stuart, a 2010 UO graduate and the youngest Roundtable panelist, works at Portland's Evanta, an executive leadership networking company. Brittney Rerecich, a 1997 UO graduate, serves as senior legal recruiter at Boly:Welch, a Portland business consulting and employment agency. Diane Danowski Smith, a 1988 graduate, is vice president of Publix Northwest Public Relations/Public Affairs in Portland. And Mary Anne Harmer, a 1974 UO graduate, is director of member and community engagement at Oregon Health Co-Op.

Stuart said Evanta "was very male-dominant in our department" when she first joined the company, so she set personal goals such as making more phone calls than the men in her department. But male co-workers discouraged her initiative. 

"Instead of listening to them and backing down," she says. "I just kept going, because I knew that I had to differentiate myself within that department to get promoted."

She quickly landed a promotion as program director.

Rerecich offered tips for those at the roundtable on negotiating salary. 

"Accepting less than you think you’re worth will only make you bitter," she said.

She and other panelists advised doing homework on median salaries for similar positions – and waiting to negotiate until the job has been offered.

Smith explained to the roundtable audience why professionals with flexibility in their careers are the most successful.

"With flexibility, you open yourself up to the possibilities of promotion and pay," Smith said. "Flexibility will cause you to consider a myriad of approaches and untapped opportunities that you might not have seen before."

Harmer agreed that flexibility is important, pointing out that strong women in the workplace must be willing to embrace change.

"To be a real leader as a woman, you’ve got to be at the forefront of change," she said. "So being a strong woman (in the workplace) means problem-solving, being creative, trying to find ways that we can evolve.

"And I would say that women are the best change agents there can be, because how much we have to juggle in our lives."

The Alumni Women's Roundtable was presented by the UO Career Center-Portland, in collaboration with the UO Alumni Association, Boly:Welch Consultin/Recruiting and Liberty Mutual Insurance.

- from UO Portland