by Sara Karnish
The Financial Women’s Association Celebrates 20 Years at Baruch
It started small, with nine students and nine mentors. Two decades later, the Financial Women’s Association (FWA) mentoring program at Baruch College has expanded in size and scope, with nearly 50 mentor and mentee pairs. As the program celebrates its 20th anniversary on campus this year,
the Baruch community is reflecting on its
“It was a match made in heaven,” said Betsy Werley, the FWA president who launched the Baruch chapter in 2002 and currently serves as its co-lead. “When I looked at Baruch, I saw high-energy, smart, first-generation students ready to launch their careers. FWA mentors share their life experiences with these students and serve as a bridge to the sometimes foreign and intimidating world of corporate America.”
The FWA, an organization established in 1956, promotes the professional development and advancement of all women in the financial community through education, mentorship, networking, and advocacy. The FWA program is highly selective—interested students must go through a rigorous application process and interview.
Once accepted, students are paired with mentors based on their academic and professional goals. Current mentees appreciate connecting with and learning from these experienced women. “My mentor helped me narrow down my focus and align it with my career objectives,” said Nayancie Matthews, a senior international business major and current FWA participant. “She really understood what I wanted to do, and we’ve had such a great connection. I know I have a mentor for life.”
Matthews’ mentor—Salome Makharadze (’05), managing director at Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC—participated as a mentee back when she was a student at Baruch. She decided to become a mentor so that she could pay it forward and help the next generation of women. “I wanted to help students see themselves in their best light,” she said. “To encourage them, to listen to them, to be a sounding board for them.”
Makharadze is one of many former students who have returned to the program as mentors. Stephanie C. Lew (’06), a director at PwC, for example, has served as a mentor for several years and says she is benefitting from the program just as much now as she did when she was a student. “As a mentor, it helps me learn the younger generation’s mindset and keeps me that much more relevant with potential employees and recruits,” Lew said. “The FWA program was, and continues to be, such an enrichment in my life—I’ve met some of my lifelong friends through it.”
In addition to one-to-one mentoring, the program hosts career-focused events and funds study abroad and attendance at leadership conferences. Mentees have gone on to land positions at companies like Goldman Sachs & Co., Deloitte LLP, and J.P. Morgan. Since 2005, the program has received generous financial support from BMO Capital Markets’ Equity Through Education program.
As proud as Werley is of the program’s remarkable 20-year history, she emphasized that it shows no signs of slowing down. “These impressive students are the diverse business leaders we need in New York City—and the United States,” she said. “It’s been a wonderful 20 years, but we’re just getting started.”