On Friday, September 19th, we had the privilege again of spending the day with Ernst & Young on their annual EY Connect Day. Twenty-eight inspiring professionals joined us for the opportunity to truly connect, learn and grow with one another. The day was filled with engaging, informative and inspiring events.

The day began with a panel discussion led by Marga Fripp, Becoming a Leader and Changemaker: What Drives and Sustains Successful Women Leaders? Our panelists included Jenifer Williams of EY, Shukri Salah, a new student for the upcoming Entrepreneur Fellowship for Women class, Sharmila Karamchandani, ETS Lead Trainer, and Mary M Ajetunmobi of EY.

They all provided the group with heartfelt messages about drive and persistence in the face of adversity and rejection. During the Q&A session, Pamela of EY offered a simple yet powerful piece of advice, ” NO, just means Next Opportunity”. The women on the panel inspired us all as they spoke of finding joy, harnessing “gracious anger”, using humor, moving on, recognizing our value and finding a solid community of women that celebrate us. This set the tone for the day and created an atmosphere where people could feel comfortable and candid of sharing their own experiences.


Marcela Kogen, ETS Trainer and Mentor sharing her thoughts after the panel discussion.

Break-out sessions allowed for more intimate discussions with a  variety of topics aimed to help participants gain the skills they need to be their best as women leaders. Some of the sessions covered were Marketing, Sales, and Business Growth; Business Financials; Cover Letter, Resume and Mock Interviews; and Business Plan Pitch Practice.

A special thank you to all the breakout session facilitators, Marga Fripp, Melissa Reitkopp and  Sharmila Karamchandani of EWI, and William C Bordeaux Rene Salas of EY!



The Ernst & Young staff were not only resourceful in sharing their expertise on the various topics, they were also very supportive. Zezeh Brazil, a new student for the upcoming Entrepreneur Fellowship for Women class, with Xochitl Ledesma from EY, and Charmelle Clark, EWI Graduate and ETS Mentor.


There was also time for a marketplace while people networked and got to know more about each other with different ice breaker activities. Pauline Muchina’s handmade bags from Kenya were a big hit!

Tenisha Campbell, an EWI graduate, expressed how great it was to have a support system and be able to go to events like EY Connect Day and meet new people and gain new skills.



Participants Shukri Salah with her friend.


The inspiring keynote speakers, Loredana Calin, EWI Graduate, and Rene Salas, Rene Salas, EY Partner, East Central Community Engagement (CE) Leader, both challenged themselves by opening up about their own personal journeys as leaders. Loredana spoke on her dreams and the development that took place for her through EWI. ” I knew all along I had skills, and education but I only half believed. After ETS I fully believed.”


Rene discussed his role as a leader and the experience as a minority with Ernst & Young, working to give others a chance and his ability to impact company culture. He reminded us, “we have to challenge ourselves in order to grow.”


A fun activity included writing down “How do you lead with purpose?” Cheryl Sloan, a new student for the upcoming Entrepreneur Fellowship for Women class wrote, “Sharing & helping to empower other women!”


Sharmila Karamchandani, ETS Lead Trainer and EWI Graduate, and LaDon James, EWI Graduate, say it all  – we all have what it takes to lead with purpose, especially with the support of one another!


A very special thanks goes the team leaders who made this amazing day possible – Mary Louise Marino, Kim Booher, Katie L D’Angelo, Xochitl Ledesma, Jenifer Williams, Marga Fripp, Deborah Blank, Sravya Yeleswarapu, and Rene Sales

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It was truly an empowering day! Thank you Ernst & Young for the opportunity to share this day with you, and all the participants who inspired us with such passion and purpose.

 Learn more about Ernst& Young’s commitment to corporate responsibility and EY Connect Day here

Written by Brianna Pippens, Marketing and Communications Intern

Leading with Passion and Purpose at EY Connect Day!
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