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Contact: Jamie Epstein
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At Financial Women’s Association Awards, 2015 Pacesetters Named; Stories of “Honey” and Beating the Odds Leaves Audience Roaring & Tearing

New York, May 12, 2015 — When college student Yan Bai left China for a job in the US at an architectural firm in Irvine, California, little did she know she’d be fired a week later for poor English.

“No one would hire me, not even a Chinese restaurant – and I can speak Chinese,” she told the audience of nearly 500 at the Financial Women’s Association’s (FWA) 31st Women of the Year Awards Dinner hosted by CNBC’s Tyler Mathisen.

Driving to English classes one day on a scooter – the cheapest transportation she could find – she was seriously attacked and bitten by a dog named “Honey.”

“I guess I was his honey – he figured he could take a piece of me.”

The experience led Bai to move to New York where public transportation was cheap and where she would ultimately start a business exporting baby formula to address the milk scandal that left six babies dead in her native country.
“But I didn’t know how to manage the books, so I enrolled in an accounting class and ultimately went to Baruch College, where I discovered the FWA’s mentoring program,” she explained. “It changed my life, and I’ve now had multiple job offers.”

Federal CIO on Tech Growth, Jobs for Women

Underscoring the opportunities for women in STEM-related jobs, Federal Deputy Chief Information Officer Lisa Schlosser and the FWA’s 2015 Public Sector Woman of the Year pointed to the role of Title IX in opening the doors for women in athletics, math and science – including her own career.

“Fast forward to today and we will have 2 million computer science jobs open in 2020,” said Schlosser, who served in the military and now works in the Office of Management and Budget on IT and cyber security issues.
She pointed out that in 2014, only 26% of the computing workforce were women and the number of women pursuing computer science degrees is down 7% since 2000.

But in 2015, the number of cyberattacks that will occur is 42.8 million – roughly 117,000 occurring per day.
“We have a challenge – and an opportunity – to harness and secure the technology revolution for our nation – while ensuring women have a leadership role in this revolution,” she said.

The FWA’s 2015 Trailblazer of the Year was Cathy Engelbert, chief executive officer of Deloitte LLP, who talked about her journey to the C-suite.

“I never aspired to be CEO – but I aspired to be a leader. And throughout my career, Deloitte provided me the support to succeed – both through institutional programs and incredible senior leaders who were mentors and sponsors to me. Now it’s my turn – I’m committed to paying it forward and helping the next generation of bright, young leaders succeed.”

Also honored were nine Pacesetters from top financial companies.

“These are young women who are driving change in their organizations at a time of great innovation, while also serving as role models for other young women,” said FWA President Maureen Adolf.

The event raised funds for the FWA’s educational programs, which have impacted 5,000 students to date.

About the FWA and its Educational Programs

For nearly 30 years, the FWA Mentoring Program has operated on the campus of Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers (MBHS) in Lower Manhattan. Despite a 51% four year graduation rate and a 54% college enrollment rate (within 18 months), the students in the FWA Mentoring Program defy the statistics and set out to make their dreams a reality. The program includes one-on-one mentoring with experienced professional women, SAT and PSAT prep classes, funding for overnight college visits, financial aid workshops, and community service opportunities. Since the program’s founding, FWA has brought mentoring to nearly 300 students – 100 percent of whom graduate high school within four years and the vast majority of whom are first generation college students.

The FWA Baruch College Mentoring Program matches FWA mentors with undergraduate business students, providing one-on-one mentoring focused on career and personal development. Mentees participate in a variety of programs such as special breakfasts at top companies, workshops on self-promotion and networking, and lunches with speakers who share advice about their successful careers. Students are also exposed to recruitment opportunities at major financial institutions through the FWA’s President Circle companies. All program participants graduate with a career plan – a job, and internship, or acceptance into a graduate program.

The FWA is dedicated to developing future leaders, enhancing the role of women in business, investing in the community, and increasing the pipeline of diverse candidates. The FWA has contributed to the community by providing scholarships, mentoring programs, financial literacy workshops, and community service activities, reaching over 5,000 individuals over the past 40 years.

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