October 09, 2012
Women in business face a unique challenge: how do you juggle an
active social life, a successful marriage and motherhood, all while
simultaneously excelling in the professional world?
John’s alumnae tackled these complex issues at the Alumni Insider’s
View…Women in Leadership Panel Discussion and Breakfast. Held at
Manhattan’s 3 West Club, the program allowed alumnae panelists to
share their insight, expertise and personal stories with students
to help them navigate their own journey into the world of
“Personally, I have spent a long time saying, ‘We as women are not
different, we’re the same, and we can do anything,’” said Victoria
L. Shoaf, Ph.D., Dean of St. John’s The Peter J. Tobin College of
Business. “But in fact, our experience as women in business is a
bit different, so I think it’s important that we reflect on those
differences. It helps to make us better leaders, better employees
and better students, and that’s why I’m happy to be hosting this
breakfast and bringing this panel before you.”
Andrea Alonso, Esq. ’79C, ’81L
Morris Duffy Alonso & Faley
Christine Gerula ’79CBA
Senior Vice President, Relationship Manager
Linda G. John ’80SVC
Corporate Family Network
Anne Marie Schettini-Lynch, CPA, CTP ’03MBA
Assistant Vice President and Associate Treasurer
St. John’s University
The panelists discussed their unique transition from college to
career, explaining how their St. John’s degrees benefitted them in
the professional world. Additionally, they shared their thoughts on
how it felt to break into a male-dominated industry while still
retaining a successful personal life.
feel that tug and pull all the time,” Gerula told the audience.
“When you spend more time at work, you feel as if you should be at
home. Then when you’re at home, you feel like you should be at
work. The most difficult thing to figure out is this: what makes
you happy? And finding that out is the key in life.”
Gerula, a commercial-lending executive for over 25 years, has
excelled throughout her career, and her daughter attended the event
to show her support.
“Both personally and professionally, networking is crucial,” Gerula
advised. “You never know who you might meet and where they might
take you. You could reach places you had no idea you could go, and
hopefully, your St. John’s connections will help you with the
issues you face and the goals you want to achieve.”
Fellow panelist Linda G. John ’80SVC, who is the Founder and Chief
Executive Officer of Corporate Family Network (CFN), spoke about
the benefits of networking during tough economic times.
“It’s one thing to have smarts and to be self-motivated,” she said.
“But if you have connections, it can really give you an edge and
open doors that otherwise might not have been opened. And St.
John’s is the best school in the country, right? So build up those
connections and meet alumni who can help you along the way.”
Students mingled with alumni, faculty and administrators,
discussing what they learned from the panelists. For students like
Claire Cilento ’13TCB, the program provided a renewed sense of
confidence and determination.
“It was great just meeting these successful St. John’s women,”
Cilento said. “Being female doesn’t mean that we can’t accomplish
the same objectives in the professional world as our male
counterparts. So I definitely have a lot more confidence moving
forward, seeing these female business leaders and all that they’ve
done with their lives. They didn’t let anything stand in their
Shelby Chambers ’14TCB, meanwhile, hopes that she can juggle the
responsibilities of family and career as gracefully as the alumnae
she met. And after speaking and networking with the panelists,
she’s glad to have made a few lasting connections.
“Speaking with these alumnae has made me feel so much more prepared
into a job interview,” Chambers said. “I know not to be demanding,
but to simply remain confident and sell myself for my abilities. A
lot of women put pressure on themselves to have the perfect job and
the perfect family, but I know now that I shouldn’t let that stress
She added, “It’s a great feeling to see St. John’s women who came
before me enjoying such success, and I know now that I can go out
in the workforce and accomplish my dreams as well.”