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Second annual Women’s Investment Summit features female voices in finance

| Friday, February 28, 2020

The Notre Dame Institute for Global Investing (NDIGI) will hold the second annual Women’s Investment Summit (WIS) from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, featuring 26 female speakers who will discuss their pathway to success in the investment field. The event is sponsored by BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, Premier, Six Street Partners and Wellington Management.

“We’re trying to help more women in finance,” said Erin Bellissimo, managing director for the NDIGI. “What better way to tie into one of our key priorities, which is inclusion, with an investment conference that also can help the participants in career discernment and understanding the investment landscape? There will be a lot of educational learning that can go on to help with career choices. In addition, we’re going to be doing some case studies with very experiential learning.”

To preface the WIS, the NDIGI held the final round of a stock pitch competition Thursday night. Senior Lauren Weetman, committee chair for the competition and the WIS, said there were originally 21 teams entered in the contest. Three panelists who were coming for the WIS judged the top three teams, giving those students the opportunity to get feedback on their work from people already in the field.

“It’s pretty rare that students are able to manage $900,000 on their own, and we wanted to extend that opportunity across the entire campus,” she said. “We thought it worked really well with the WIS, where we’re focused on bringing more people into investing. The stock pitch competition is another way of furthering that mission — and, having these incredible people in for the WIS meant that we could have some amazing judges for the competition.”

Some of the speakers at the WIS graduated from the University, some currently work for the University and some are not affiliated with Notre Dame at all. Each one, however, is deeply involved with the finance world and especially passionate about women’s role in investing, Bellissimo said.

“Cathy Murphy, the president of personal investing at Fidelity, is not an alum, but she’s coming because she believes in this issue so deeply,” she said. “I think all of the participants are coming because they realize that women have to take the lead on trying to help solve this issue of not having a lot of retention of women in the industry.”

Although every panelist is female, the event is geared toward all students at Notre Dame — male and female alike. Senior Claire Eilers, committee chair for speakers, said the event is open to students from schools throughout the University because it showcases the opportunities available in the investing world.

“Last year, really only female students came, and that’s not the point of the summit; it’s supposed to be for men and women,” Eilers said. “This conference is targeting this huge discrepancy of women not being in these leadership roles in the investment managing industry, and everyone should come learn about that issue.”

While this is only the second year the NDIGI has held the WIS, Bellissimo hopes it will continue to grow in the future. It provides a special opportunity for students to hear from women in the investing field, which is not always common, she said.

“I’ve gone to quite a few investing conferences in my time here at Notre Dame, and it’s rare to even have one woman speak at them. The fact that it’s all women is something that’s kind of groundbreaking, and I think it’s great for Notre Dame,” Weetman said. “It’s hard to picture being an investor if you can’t see other women doing it.”

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