The Saint: What are the origins of the conference?
Evangeline Tawil: When I had the idea, the most important thing to me was reaching out to other people that I knew. So I reached out to Meggie [Gresham] and to Emma [Hallqvist, Head of Sponsorship], and they were really excited to do this. So we got together and we combined our ideas and our vision for the event, deciding what it would be like. We then proposed it to the whole club, who contributed their own thoughts on the concept. In the end, it was a unanimous vote that we were going to go through with the conference.
Meggie Gresham: It’s interesting because people always have ideas, but if you can rally the support, that’s what makes it a reality. We were lucky enough to gather an excellent team from within the club.
ET: We believed in what we were doing. We knew that people were looking for something like this, and that if we worked hard and got good speakers, we could pull it off.
TS: Where did the idea originate?
ET: In first year, I went to a recruitment dinner with a visiting company. And it was about 28 guys and two girls participating. I thought, “This is unacceptable.” Women have something to teach, and what they have to teach and to convey is not just for girls, but for both genders. Everyone can learn something.
TS: How do you select speakers?
MG: Connections are definitely a big part of it. It’s a group effort: We start by reaching out through the Club and move from person to person that way. It’s a constant networking process. Any high-up woman you meet is a prospective speaker, which is a major reason to get out of your comfort zone and network with people higher up than you during internships.
ET: At the same time, we’ve had speakers who were not through connections. One of our speakers this year is a St Andrews alumna who we found through the online alumni database. I read another alumna’s name in an article and we reached out.
MG: She’s based in the US, but she was in Milan this week and said she could hop over to St Andrews for the conference.
ET: Past speakers are also a huge resource. I had the opportunity to meet up with speakers from last year, and they said they could help us find more speakers for this year’s conference. And thanks to them, we met people who said they love what we’re doing and that they want to help.
The Winning Women Conference will be held Wednesday 12 October.