She Means Business

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She Means Business

I intended to spend a part of my evening at the Women In Business: She Means Business Panel listening to impactful, empowering, driven women of the community speak on their experiences throughout their careers. What I had not planned on, on the other hand, was meeting one of the panel members, Lyna Matesi, associate professor of management and co-founder of the UWSP Center for Women’s Equity, Development, and Leadership.

Throughout my time at UWSP, I have attended a variety of events, lunches, conferences, classes, meet and greets, etc., but I had yet to interact with Lyna. To be frank, neither of us are sure how we stayed out of touch for so long as we both attended similar events throughout the years, interacted with the same colleagues and even knew of each other, yet never exchanged a simple passing smile or “hello” in the hallways. I was familiar with the work she had done within the Sentry School of Business and Economics such as educating both undergraduate and graduate students in the classroom as well as at Smiley Pro Events, her time as MBA program director and her posts on LinkedIn of the variety of organizations, events and so forth. Even though all of her work and achievements are admirable, what drew me to Lyna the most as a leader was her energy. There was just something about the way she blended her word choice and tone of voice to expel the passion she holds for learning into a story, a laugh that when you heard it, you knew deep down it was genuinely from a place of kindness and love for where she was, a delighted smile as she greeted a colleague that made one feel as though she had just seen a lifelong friend for the first time in ages. Lyna held the passion, drive, and love for life that I aimed to portray myself someday. To put it simply: Lyna Matesi is an individual I look up to as a role model not only in business, but in life — one of my business sheroes if you will.

Role models are different for everyone in various situations. For this list, I look for individuals in my life who exhibit leadership qualities such as passion, kindness, and resilience, individuals who light up a room the minute they walk in because their presence just brings a certain positivity and light into the space. There are a few individuals on my list that I deem as my personal business heroes, such as the Sentry School of Business and Economics Advising Director Max Trzebiatowski who not only brought me back to school through a single advising meeting, but also saw me through a large majority of my undergraduate work.

Lyna Matesi

Lyna was my only “business shero” I had yet to actually have a conversation with, and in the spirit of being transparent, it terrified me. What would she think of me? Has she seen the work I have put out thus far? Does she even know who I am? Should I tell her that she’s one of my business sheroes?

After I had the blessing of sitting through the panel, my mind was working faster than I could keep up with. I had learned so much from each of these women’s stories and was emotionally moved on so many levels. Now, all that was left was to talk to one of them, and what better time to meet one of my sheroes? Hands clammy and tense in anticipation for a crisp business handshake, mind running through the possibilities of conversations that may arise, heart racing with anticipation over introducing myself, I made my way over to where Lyna was standing. This was the moment, this was when I finally got to meet my hero. Her aura was just as I had imagined and being around Lyna was more energizing, empowering, and uplifting than I could have prepared myself for. Walking out of that event I couldn’t tear the smile from my face if my life depended on it, I walked away with a sense of power and community and a new business hero I knew I could rely on.

There are going to be many points in your life that people are going to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. My conversation with Lyna that night made one thing very clear: follow your dreams and don’t let anyone stand in your way, because there are people out there that believe in you, but most importantly, you should believe in you. There may not always be time to prepare remarks or the perfect greeting, but what matters is the genuine place it comes from. So ultimately, go out and work for what you want, meet your heroes, and strive to be somebody’s hero. You never know when opportunity will come knocking.

Ariana Mueller is a business administration student in the Sentry School of Business and Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Originally from Wausau, Wis., Ariana serves as a peer adviser in the Anderson Classroom to Career Center.