"We're celebrating the sisterhood of Smith and empowering women to pursue senior leadership roles," said Sharon Strange Lewis, the school's senior director of Women and Diversity Programs. "We're also giving our community a chance to learn from a great role model in business."
Cheng, a 1993 Smith School alumna, is founder and CEO of Blue Ocean Global Wealth in Rockville, Md. She said Women Leading Women is part of an important conversation about closing the gender enrollment gap at business schools and getting more women into the C-suite. "It's awesome that we come out once a year," she said. "But it doesn't start and stop there."
She said a recent trip to Starbucks with her daughter, Smith School junior Sarina Haryanto, further highlighted the need for an ongoing conversation about women in business. Cheng said that her daughter Sarina overheard a group of teenage girls at the coffee shop talking about potential college majors, and none wanted to study business because of negative associations with fraud, greed and exploitation.
"There's that perception that to be competitive in business, you have to be cutthroat, cold and ruthless," Cheng said. "But I don't think that's the case at the Smith School."
She said girls in middle school and high school need role models who can show them that business, when done right, creates value and drives upward mobility. "All of us in business, who are business professionals or working in a business school, have to do more to convey the social value of business," Cheng said. "We need to explain that all of the products and services that make our lives better — it all comes from business."
Her own business, launched in 2013, helps families manage their resources and plan for the future. "My only objective is helping my clients reach their life goals," Cheng said.
She is a past spokesperson for the AARP Financial Freedom Campaign and a regular columnist for Kiplinger. As a Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Ambassador, Cheng helps educate the public, policymakers and media about the benefits of competent, ethical financial planning.
She also serves as a Women's Initiative (WIN) Advocate and subject matter expert for the CFP Board, contributing to the development of examination questions for the CFP Certification Examination.
During her Women Leading Women presentation, Cheng will also emphasize the need for women to embrace who they are and trust their ability. "We're taught to manage our weaknesses," she said. "It's important to be aware of them, but let's soar with our strengths."
She said women also need courage to accept stretch assignments and take risks. "Be risk aware, not risk averse," Cheng said. "Don't let risk hold you back, and don't take failure personally. Be fearless."
Women Leading Women
What: Marguerita Cheng will lead a conversation with the women of Smith.
When: 6-9 p.m. Thursday, March 30, 2017
Where: Frank Auditorium, Van Munching Hall at the University of Maryland
About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty masters, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.
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SOURCE University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business