From vice presidents at J.P. Morgan and Wellington Management to the first female partner at Boston CPA firm CFGI, women who graduate with a business degree from Stonehill go on to make an impact in their industries. Annemarie Donegan ’19 is ready to become the next female leader in the finance field. And she’s starting by ensuring women in the finance major at Stonehill build a network through a new initiative called “Launch: Women in Finance at Stonehill College.”

“We want to encourage new relationships between the female students in the major,” said the recent graduate, who was also a member of the Stonehill College Investment Finance Initiative (SCIFI).

Launch incorporates aspects of networking, mentor-mentee relationships and corporate site visits that connect female finance students in their first or second year with successful Stonehill alumnae.

“We know that there are not enough women in the finance industry,” said Christina Burney, director of Stonehill’s Career Development Center (CDC). “We are completely tipping the stereotype over on its side.”

According to LinkedIn, about a third of finance professionals believe a biased corporate culture is holding women back. And data from Catalyst shows fewer than 17 percent of senior leaders in investment banking are women. Launch hopes to change that, starting at Stonehill.

The ability to have a successful female mentor who has gone through the same thing before and guides you through the finance path is a key to success.

“Instead of women feeling like the minority, we are bringing students into the financial world and allowing them to be surrounded by successful female professionals,” said Burney, noting that Launch will specifically target incoming first-year students for this program. “They’ll never have to feel like they can’t find a mentor or they can’t see themselves succeeding in the profession.”

“Having that experience early on would have made me better prepared to go into the workplace,” said Donegan, who now works at Silicon Valley Bank in their associate development program. “Launch gives us a space to bond with fellow women and enhance our professional skills.”

She and Zoe Randolph ’19 worked with Burney; finance professor Michael Mullen; and Debra Salvucci, dean of Stonehill’s Meehan School of Business, to start the initiative.

Zoe Randolph ’19 tours the Dell facility in Hopkinton with Launch members.
Annemarie Donegan '19 and Alexis Thomas '22 during a tour of the computer company’s offices in Hopkinton.

Networking Events Provide Students With Access to Professional Mentors

Launch got its start at a kickoff dinner on January 24, 2019. It was the first time the nine alumnae, who work at firms like Fidelity, J.P. Morgan, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Wellington Management, among others, and 18 students came together to meet and form new relationships.

“Students had the opportunity to have dinner with these women, hear stories about their journey from their time at Stonehill to the success they’ve achieved now, and start to develop a mentoring relationship,” said Burney. “The event allowed the students to see themselves reflected in the success of these female financial professionals.”

As part of Launch, students:

  • meet regularly as a group for career development preparation
  • have informational interviews with more than one alumna
  • conduct site visits at local companies
  • complete job shadow days

In the future, Launch hopes to create a Launch Day of Service so students can volunteer together with their alumna mentor at The Farm at Stonehill or somewhere in the local area.  “The idea is to double down on those relationships with alumnae,” said Donegan.

Overall, this program will continue to grow and evolve, creating career pathways for new females eager to lead in a male-dominated industry.

“We hope this initiative will help students feel less lost in the job hunt and gain an understanding of where they would like their careers to go,” said Randolph. “The dream for us is that these connections turn into relationships that are held for many years.”