Upper School Hosts Women in Business Panel and Networking Event

As a notable way to kick off Women’s History Month at Oak Knoll, students in the school’s Future Business Leaders of America Club and the College Counseling Office hosted a stellar panel of alumnae and an Oak Knoll parent to discuss with our Upper School girls the evolving landscape of women in business. This engaging dialogue, aimed at empowering our current students with real-world insights and strategies, not only celebrated the achievements of our alumnae but also underscored our commitment to nurturing the next generation of female leaders.

Panelists fielded questions about their respective journeys to the top of their fields in fund management, enterprise risk management, computer science, and investment strategy. They explained how they had used their high school years to set themselves up for success in college and beyond, how artificial intelligence is altering their fields, how their college majors factored into their career trajectory, what aspect of their job is most challenging, and what it is like to be female in their male-dominated industries.

“One of the greatest gifts you have here at Oak Knoll is you’re going to learn how to think, not what to think,” advised panelist and Oak Knoll parent Lucy DeStefano. “Questioning and being curious about everything around you is what will pay you dividends?” DeStefano is Global Head of Systematic Investing and Global Head of Trading at Soros Fund Management. She graduated Cum Laude from Princeton University.

“The biggest thing I would advise is to study something you’re passionate about,” said Kristen Ehinger ‘04. “Finding something that interests you and engages you is more important than trying to pick something that will drive your career.” Ehinger is a senior salesperson advising institutional equity investors on portfolio construction and investment strategy at Empirical Research Partners, a quantitative equity research boutique. She is also an entrepreneur who designs and hand-makes custom handbags from luxury interior design fabric. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Christine D’Agostino ‘99 stressed the importance of passion and curiosity. “I think being open-minded about many different options and career paths is important. Also, just be in tune with what you’re good at and what you like to do,” she stated. D’Agostino joined Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. in 2020 as Global Head of Enterprise Risk Management. She has an M.B.A. from New York University and a B.S. from Wake Forest University.

Reflecting on her place in a male-dominated field, panelist Caroline Abel ’19 stated, “I’m used to being one of the few women in the room. The most important part is being confident and believing that you belong in the room — that your voice is important.” Abel is a software engineer for Lazarus AI, which leverages artificial intelligence and computer vision for document processing needs. She is a graduate with honors from Harvard College.

Following the panel discussion, our guests adjourned to separate classrooms, where they met Upper School students who had signed up in advance to network with them based on their respective fields.