Stephanie Pow founded Capital W in 2007 with a group of like-minded young women, all passionate about equipping young women to “tackle any role”.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance), Stephanie completed an MBA from University of Pennsylvania- Wharton School and MPA from Harvard University. Stephanie is currently Strategy Director at Vend, a cloud-based POS software company.
Keen to learn about Capital W’s influence on her life, we asked Stephanie about how she helped catalyse the women empowerment movement in UNSW.
What motivated you to start Capital W?
At eighteen, I had my first practical experience in business – an internship at UBS, working on the largest trading floor in the southern hemisphere. I continued in a part-time capacity during my second year of university and I often represented the firm at campus recruiting events. On multiple occasions, upon hearing that I worked on the trading floor, young women would exclaim, “I could never do that!” Truth be told, I would have said the same thing a year earlier if it were not for the fact that UNSW Finance Co-op had placed me there. Inspired by the opportunity to empower other women to tackle any role, as well as my own experience, I pitched the idea of Capital W to a group of like-minded friends and the rest, as they say, is history!
How has Capital W helped shape who you are today?
When I reflect on the early days of Capital W, I am reminded of the resourcefulness and tenacity of the founding team. The launch of Capital W was a success because the team truly believed in the mission we were out to achieve. We were all willing to go the extra mile, whether that involved asking friends of friends of friends for introductions to potential sponsors, working on Capital W related activities after wrapping up long internship work days or making awkward promotional videos to show at lectures (thankfully this was before YouTube was really big!). Over time, I have come to realise that the chance to be part of something like this is exceedingly rare. To this day, the fulfillment I experienced as part of the Capital W founding team continues to be my benchmark for whenever I am evaluating a new opportunity – and it’s a high bar to clear.
The theme for this year’s Capital W Annual Dinner is ‘She Means Business’. What does this theme mean to you?
When we started Capital W in 2007, the focus was very much on broadening the opportunity set for female business students (the ‘Lean In’ approach if you like). In the ensuing decade, we’ve seen a greater acknowledgement of the structural and systematic barriers that make it difficult for women to enter certain industries and to ascend. To me, the theme for the 2019 Capital W Annual Dinner ‘She Means Business’ speaks to the growing momentum around addressing and dismantling these barriers – recruitment methods, work arrangements, promotion criteria, the process for handling harassment and parental leave policies, just to name a few. While the task ahead is daunting, sorry is the fool who underestimates her.