Breaking Barriers: Whitman Alumni Are Redefining Workplace Roles, Leading Through Innovation and Technology and Carving Out Diverse Paths to Success

Jamie Vinick

Finance and Marketing Management

  • Alumni

The Whitman culture breeds entrepreneurship, and I was deeply inspired and encouraged to pursue a less traditional career path.

Whether it’s educating its students and faculty on issues surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion; fostering new ventures through research, innovation and entrepreneurship; or tapping into the experience, generosity and leadership of its vast alumni network, the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University is working to break barriers every day with a campus culture that continues to evolve, advance and promote its students with the support and skills they need to not only succeed in the business world but become leaders that are truly making a difference.

Preparing the Next Generation of Female Leaders

Jamie Vinick ’20 was breaking barriers before she graduated from the Whitman School. A double major in finance and marketing management with a minor in political science, Vinick attended a networking event where a powerful female banking executive was asked to speak. People threw out plenty of questions, but no one asked about gender in the workplace or the nuances associated with entering and advancing as a woman.

That inspired her to think about ways to authentically connect young women to each other in a noncompetitive environment that also encouraged conversation around topics like developing confidence, combating imposter syndrome, negotiating salaries and organically building a network. So, she started a club on the Syracuse University campus: The Women’s Network (TWN). She was hoping 20 people might attend, but, to her surprise, 180 turned out at the first meeting.

By Vinick’s senior year, she had launched chapters of TWN at five additional universities, including Cornell University and University of California, Berkeley. Since February 2020, The Women’s Network has reached 142 campuses and two countries, linking women to one another and to leaders across different industries, while cultivating a community in which members can build authentic connections.

“The Whitman culture breeds entrepreneurship, and I was deeply inspired and encouraged to pursue a less traditional career path,” says Vinick, giving a special nod to Whitman faculty members Ken Walsleben, professor of entrepreneurial practice, and Fatma Sonmez-Leopold, assistant teaching professor of finance, who she says, “changed the trajectory of my career.”

After Syracuse University classes went completely online in March 2020 due to the pandemic, Vinick figured she’d go back to campus eventually, but that didn’t happen. Instead, she used that time to “begin building leadership teams, hosting experiential virtual programming that enabled more collegiate women to connect, and launching more chapters of TWN.” She says that given how isolated lockdowns were, people were more in need than ever before of finding community and building connections.

Now based in New York City, she is committed to growing The Women’s Network and expanding its national and international presence. Part of her work includes hosting a podcast, Redefining Ambition, where powerful women share their obstacles, lessons learned, challenges and accomplishments. Found on Spotify and the Apple Podcast app, it recently wrapped Season 2 with more than 40 episodes.

“The work we’re doing at The Women’s Network is something I’m deeply passionate about, and I know I will continue in some capacity,” she says. “Preparing for the next generation of leaders is part of our mission, and it’s a big responsibility to show people why and how today’s young women need to ascend and succeed in the workplace. I’m excited for the future.


By Caroline Reff

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  • Alumni