The College of Business

COB Women's Conference

November 16, 2018
Multipurpose Room of the University Center

The individual conference registration fee is $75 and will include breakfast, lunch, and a copy of Robbie Samuels bestselling book, “Bagels vs Croissants: Strategic, Effective, and Inclusive Networking at Conferences.”    

We are offering organizations the opportunity to become a sponsor for $500 which allows 8 guests complimentary reservations for the conference and recognition in our print and social media conference material.  We believe it will be a great opportunity for individuals from your organization to interact with students from all of our disciplines.     

Conference Schedule:

8:00a Registration/Continental Breakfast
8:45-9:00a Conference Welcome and Opening Remarks
9:00-10:00a Dr. Reatha Clark King  -  “Aim to be Excellent- Excellence as a Virtue, Excellence as a Value”
10:00-12:00p Robbie Samuels – “The Art of the Schmooze- Strategic, Effective, and Inclusive Networking”
12:00-12:45p Buffet Lunch
12:45-1:45p Leigh Lafever-Ayer – “Finding Your Voice”


Dr. Reatha Clark King

From the farm fields of Georgia to astronauts on the moon

Reatha Clark King didn't set out to become a research chemist who would one day help NASA discover rocket fuels for the space program. Nor did she intend to become a college professor, university president or executive director of the General Mills Foundation.  Rather, she set her sights on a career as a home economics teacher.

Clark King was born in the rural Deep South of Georgia long before the civil rights movement, when Jim Crow laws created a system of economic, social and educational disadvantages for black Americans. The daughter of a poorly educated sharecropper and a domestic servant who divorced when she was young, Clark King and her two sisters moved around Southern Georgia several times, and spent summers picking cotton and gathering tobacco in the fields to earn money. And yet, Clark King's bright mind could not be muted by the difficulty of her circumstances. She graduated as valedictorian of Moultrie High School for Negro Youth in 1954 and received a scholarship to Clark College in Atlanta, where she declared home economics as her major. Clark King explains, "At that time, women were told that the appropriate work for them was to be a nurse, social worker or teacher, particularly if you were going to get a degree, a home economics teacher."

Clark King's path took a sharp turn when she enrolled in freshman chemistry (a home economics requirement) and met Professor Alfred Spriggs, who encouraged Clark King to pursue chemistry. Clark King was then faced with the difficult task of telling her mother that she would not be returning to her hometown to teach home economics. She recalled, "That would have been an elevation of stature for our whole family, to have a child who's a teacher in the local high school."After graduating from Clark College, she was awarded a Woodrow Wilson fellowship that made it financially possible for her to attend graduate school. Clark King received her doctorate in 1963, becoming one of the first African-American women to receive a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Chicago.Later in life she went on to earn an MBA from Columbia University.

From 1963 to 1968, Clark King was a research chemist with the prestigious National Bureau of Standards (known today as the National Institute of Standards and Technology) in Washington, D.C. Highlights of her work there included inventing special equipment that allowed her to study very reactive materials for rocket fuels and avoid explosions — an important piece of NASA's rocket design work in the space program. "It was a good feeling to know that your work was part of something really big." 

In 1977, Clark King's career path took another turn, and she was named president of Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minn. She credits the discipline, creativity, critical thinking and project management skills she developed as a scientist as critical training for her future: "I can say with confidence that my work as a research chemist became an enabler for success in these other fields…Work as a scientist develops your abilities, perhaps better than any other kind of work," Clark King noted.

In 1988, Clark King was invited to become president and executive director of the General Mills Foundation, a position she held for 14 years. During that time, she increased the foundation assets and corporate contributions from $7 million to more than $50 million, and championed programs helping African Americans gain access to higher education.

Dr. King has served on the boards of a number of other corporations including ExxonMobil; Wells Fargo; Department 56; Minnesota Mutual Companies; and the H.B. Fuller Company.  She has also served with nonprofits, such as, the Council on Foundations, the National Association of Corporate Directors, and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. She has served as a trustee with Clark Atlanta University, and is a Life Trustee for the University of Chicago.  She is a member of the American Council on Education and the Executive Leadership Council in Washington, D.C.  She has a particularly strong interest in education, and has stated: "I realized early in life that education is our best enabling resource, that technical skills are important, and that my stamina for championing educational opportunity for all people is inexhaustible.

Robbie Samuels

Best-selling author, speaker, coach, and pod-cast host

Robbie Samuels will lead us in a session devoted to Strategic, Effective, and Inclusive Networking.

“I help entrepreneurial women shift their mindset around relationship building, so they discover new connections and business opportunities in the world around them - and know how to act on them.” 

Career progression often depends on fostering a strong and supportive professional network, but people often feel awkward at networking events and uncomfortable making new connections. Robbie’s session will offer tips and tricks to help introverts and extroverts learn how to work a room, from having the right tools to knowing the best approach to engage prospective colleagues and collaborators. No matter your role, you will benefit from learning how to be more strategic, effective, and inclusive while building great relationships. Robbie, believes that your impact on the world is directly related to your willingness to engage your community.

Robbie’s work has been featured in Fast Company, Inc., Forbes, and the Harvard Business Review.   The interactive and participatory conference session will show you how to:   

1) Employ strategy and selectivity when choosing which events to attend.  2) Identify how to take advantage of small networking opportunities at events. 3) Shift your mindset around relationship building to begin to notice opportunities in everyday life.  4. Adapt body language to increase approachability and ease of navigation in the room.  5) Apply graceful exit strategies that continue to build relationships.

Every attendee will receive a free copy of Robbie’s book, “Bagels vs Croissants: Strategic, Effective, and Inclusive Networking at Conferences”

Leigh Lafever-Ayer

AVP Human Resources UK and Ireland
Enterprise Rent-A-Car

As HR Director for Enterprise Holdings in the UK and Ireland, Leigh Lafever-Ayer is responsible for human resources, talent and diversity activities.She has over 28 years of experience with the company and has held a variety of roles in operations, management, talent development and human resources.

Leigh champions, advises and sponsors diversity initiatives at Enterprise.Enterprise has been recognized by The Times as a Top 50 Employer for Women each year since the award’s inception in 2005 and Leigh was shortlisted for the Opportunity Now Directing Diverse Talent Award in 2012 and 2015. Leigh sponsors the Enterprising Women employee network, a Lean In mentoring circle and created DRIVE, an internal magazine profiling the success of women at Enterprise in the UK and Ireland.

In 2017, Leigh was ranked number 43 in the Financial Times Top 50 Champions of Women in Business list compiled by the FT and OUTstanding HERoes.That same year, the company was also included in the Business in the Community’s Best Employers for Race listing and received the 2018 Race Equality Leadership Award for their Diversity Scorecard.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car is a top employer of graduates worldwide and in the UK recruits from over 100 universities.  The company has been nationally recognized for work done on university campuses in the area of employability and social mobility.In 2017 and 2018, Enterprise ranked in the top 10 companies in the Social Mobility UK Index.

Outside her role at Enterprise, Leigh is active in Business in the Community, a charity founded by HRH Prince of Wales and sits on the Gender Equality Leadership Team.She is also on the advisory board for Global Diversity Practice and for Bridge Builders Mentoring Scheme, a program for mentoring underprivileged youth.Previously, she was a Governor at Guildford College for eight years.

Leigh is originally from Cookeville, Tennessee and graduated from Tennessee Technological University in 1989 with a degree in Marketing.Today, she lives outside of London in Virginia Water, Surrey with her husband, Tracey Lloyd Ayer, and their daughter, Alexandra.