Collaboration and contribution oversight

July 5, 2013
This case was prepared by Lauren Ankeles, Marine Graham, and Priyanka Ramamurthy (MBAs, Class of 2013), and Senior
Lecturer Roberta Pittore.
Copyright 2013, Lauren Ankeles, Marine Graham, Roberta Pittore, and Priyanka Ramamurthy. This work is licensed under
the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license
visit http://creativecommons..0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300,
San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.
Sink or SWIM
Lauren Ankeles, Marine Graham, Roberta Pittore and Priyanka Ramamurthy
How could a sunny February afternoon take such a turn for the worse? The clock ticked in the MIT
Sloan Student Life Office (SLO), where the three Sloan Women in Management (SWIM) club copresidents and two conference directors were gathered.1 SWIMs 3rd annual conference, 11 months in
the making, was scheduled to take place the next day. A winter storm was looming, with weather
predictions varying widely from three to 50 inches of snow in the next 48 hours. It was almost
2:00pm and a decision had to be made setup was slated to begin in minutes, and speakers were
boarding their flights for Boston. Should the conference be canceled, modified, or go forward as
SLO Associate Director Marco Esquandolas looked at the five women seated in front of him and
asked, Ladies, what is your final call?
Background on SWIM
The Sloan Women in Management club was founded in the 1980s and had become one of the largest
clubs at MIT Sloan. The organizations primary goals were to create an inviting and supportive
community for all Sloan women; advance the careers of current female Sloan students; work with
faculty, administrators, and the greater business community to increase opportunities for women in
business; and, attract top female students to MIT Sloan.

1 The Student Life Office provides programs and services to foster a graduate student community based on collaboration and contribution. This includes
oversight of student organizations and support on student events and initiatives.
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In an effort to meet all of these goals and cater to the broadest set of women, SWIM hosted a variety
of year-long programming including networking events, speaker series, professional development
workshops, mentorship programs, and community building events. In addition, the club held three
flagship events, one of which was an annual conference where students could dialogue with leading
women in business. As of February 2013, SWIM had approximately 300 members,2 550 Facebook
fans, 640 Twitter followers, 270 LinkedIn group members, and 300 individuals on the alumnae
mailing list.
The annual conference had quickly become the organizations largest event, despite its inception just
two years earlier. After the relatively small-scale initial conference featuring panelists primarily from
the MIT Sloan community, the 2012 conference directors sought to create the gold standard in
womens business conferences. The Innovating through Adversity 2012 conference brought several
renowned speakers including Fortune 500 CEO Laura Sen (BJs) and VP of Google
Local/Maps/Localization Marissa Mayer to a sold-out crowd of over 400 attendees. All who
participated hailed the conference a tremendous success. Male and female students who attended
agreed that of the roughly 30 annual MIT Sloan conferences, SWIMs was the best conference of the
There was strong support and interest from the administration due to the high profile of 2012s
conference. As SLO Director Christine Pugh noted, The 2012 conference knocked it out of the park
probably based on some learnings from the 2011 conference. I heard it was just phenomenal,
enough people really raved about it that Im very confident in saying that.
The 2013 Conference Leadership Team
The 2013 SWIM club co-presidents, Rachel, Lea, and Tarini, were eager to build on the previous
years success and, immediately after their election to their leadership roles in February 2012, they
began planning for the 2013 conference.
3 As the conference was the clubs largest event of the year,
Rachel, Lea, and Tarini agreed that they wanted to maintain the previous years structure of heavy
involvement with the event, taking on the roles of conference CFO, COO, and CMO, respectively.
They would next need to select two directors who would oversee the content of the conference,
including selecting the theme and speakers, motivating a large team to execute the event according to
their vision, and serving as the masters of ceremonies for the event.
The 2013 conference directors, Janet and Merrill, were selected in March 2012 by all of the copresidents, both past and present, and the previous years conference directors. According to Janet, I

2 Members include women from various Sloan programs (MBA, Leaders for Global Operations, Master of Finance, Sloan Fellows, Executive MBA).
3 Names of people from MIT Sloan have been disguised for the purposes of this case.
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was thinking through my next years goals. Something I wanted to do was make a substantial impact
on Sloan. There were lots of ways I could do that. I decided that one of my goals would be to work on
the SWIM conference which has a very tangible output with a group of people I really respect.
The theme for the 2013 conference was set as Dare to Fail: Taking Risks When it Matters Most.
Soon after deciding the theme, the directors finalized a shortlist of keynote speakers, began
brainstorming speakers for panels, and scheduled meetings with relevant Sloan faculty and
The past presidents warned Rachel, Lea, and Tarini that they experienced significant tension the
previous year over who had final authority in the decision-making process. Despite this warning, the
same dynamic quickly developed with the new team. The co-presidents wanted be included in all key
decisions, believing they needed to have a say in the selection of speakers and topics, both for the
purposes of the conference, as well as to ensure integration with the SWIM brand and overall
organizational strategy. The conference directors felt that they were being micromanaged for an event
that they were directing.
As the SWIM leadership team headed off for the summer to five different cities to pursue internships,
expectations were set that Merrill and Janet would focus on recruiting speakers, and Rachel, Lea, and
Tarini would work on sponsorship, operations, and marketing (including ticket sales), respectively.
The five loosely agreed to check-in calls, though specific dates and milestones were not set.
Maintaining contact during the summer proved challenging, as the group of five were in different
time zones and had different work schedules. Throughout the summer Merrill and Janet continued to
chip away at speaker recruitment without much success. Despite sending out multiple keynote
requests, they continued to hit dead-ends due to scheduling conflicts and non-responses. On August
10 the first keynote was confirmed Four Star General Janet Wolfenbarger and the team breathed a
small sigh of relief. As they all geared up to return to campus in the fall, however, there was still
significant concern from the entire team about the lack of progress that had been made over the
summer in finalizing speakers.
Shortly after General Wolfenbarger was confirmed, the group faced yet another unanticipated
setback. Merrill, whose summer internship had been at a start-up, had been offered significant equity
to leave MIT Sloan and continue in her role at the start-up. On August 20, she sent the following
email to the co-presidents:
I am nothing less than obsessed with this event and with working with Janet and each of you
and I seriously considered returning to school JUST to direct the conference. However, that
didnt seem like the most logical decision, and I ultimately didnt feel that giving up my stake in
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the company was worth the conference, regardless of how amazing the conference is going to be.
I do, however, have a proposal I would like to ask to continue to co-direct the conference with
Janet. I am committed to this events tremendous success, am passionate about the theme, and
will work incredibly hard to develop speakers and panels that are worthy of SWIM. Ive spoken
with Janet, and she is in support of this.
While it was not clear how involved Merrill would be moving forward, the co-presidents agreed to
this arrangement. They were concerned about finding an alternate director given the late stage in the
planning process and trusted that Janet and Merrill had discussed managing their time appropriately.
The five-person team committed to weekly meetings to ensure that communication lines would
remain open and progress would continue.
Conference Planning
Despite these challenges, the team maintained a positive outlook upon returning to campus for the fall
semester, and worked hard to harness the energy of the first year MBA students. The annual
conference was historically a crucial way to engage new students and identify future leaders for the
organization. Committees were created to focus on speaker recruitment (led by Merrill and Janet),
marketing (Tarini), operations (Lea), and sponsorship (Rachel).
Speaker Recruitment
Over the course of the fall semester, it became increasingly clear that Janet and Merrill were
struggling to find speakers. The plan had been to secure at least two keynote speakers by the end of
the summer, and then form teams of first year students to take the lead in recruiting four to five
speakers for each of the two panels.
The panel teams were moving forward with mixed success. Speakers were responding well to the
theme of failure, but were unable to commit to the conference date. This had a significant effect on
the rest of the conference planning, particularly the marketing team, which struggled to accurately
frame the conference. With Merrill on leave from MIT, a disproportionate amount of work was
placed on Janet.
Though angry words were never exchanged, tension grew between the conference directors and the
co-presidents. While the presidents had each other to rely on, Janet shouldered much of the pressure
on her own, searching for a way to push forward and maintain an energetic exterior to keep the
conference team engaged.
By the end of November 2012, the panel teams were pushing out multiple speaker requests and
tapping all of their networks for introductions. The team scrambled to finalize the conference agenda
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before they left for winter break, as everyone would be spread out traveling the globe until the
beginning of February. By the end of December, nearly all the speaking engagements were
On January 23, 2013, with two weeks left until the conference, original keynote General
Wolfenbarger canceled her participation due to government budget-cuts. The team, exhausted from
the search for speakers, scrambled once again to fill the gaps in the lineup and manage the fallout
from attendees who had bought tickets intending to hear the General speak. The co-presidents were
convinced that there was no way to find a keynote at this late date, but to their surprise a new keynote
speaker who was a growing force in the venture capital world was quickly confirmed. This was just
what the team needed to sell their last few tickets.
In 2012, an aggressive marketing campaign had led to a sold out conference (400 tickets) nearly two
months prior to the event. For the 2013 conference, the directors wanted to sell 500 tickets, at a
slightly higher price $25 for students and $50 for professionals. The main challenge for the
marketing team, however, was not the price point, but that marketing needed to begin before speakers
had been confirmed. Falling steadily behind 2012s numbers, Tarini commented, I dont even know
why the current attendees are buying tickets. Right now, Im just selling air. To compensate, the
marketing plan from the prior year was beefed up to include social media, outreach to other schools,
and mailing lists targeting professionals. December was a busy month for ticket sales thanks to the
team individually emailing over 100 professionals in the area, including every female professor
associated with MIT Sloan, launching an aggressive social media campaign, and revamping the
promotional material each time a new speaker was added to the roster. However, ticket sales still
lagged behind the previous year, and Tarini checked daily as the fear of a half-empty event continued
to grow. The weekend before the conference, the team confirmed that the event was sold out.
The conference event space, the premier location on campus and a highly sought after venue, had
been booked in June 2012. Lea formed a team to help with operations including vendor management
(catering, facilities, custodial services, security, furniture rental, audio-visual needs, lighting,
videography), day-of logistics management, and preparation for the VIP dinner, traditionally held the
night before the conference to welcome speakers and thank corporate sponsors for their support.
Students who had been active participants in conference planning were also invited to attend. To cut
costs and improve logistics, the team opted for a new dinner venue close to campus, which meant
building new relationships with vendors and planning the budget, menu, and event space from the
ground up. A non-refundable deposit had been put down to hold the space, and the final payment for
the dinner, estimated to be $3,000, would be due upon completion of the VIP dinner.
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During the planning period, the leadership team identified a major glitch a classroom in the same
building as the event venue, traditionally used as an overflow space for conference attendees, was
booked for a class during the conference. Preparations had to be adjusted accordingly to
accommodate the reduced seating and inflow of non-conference attendees that would be coming
through the building entrance.
By the end of January, all of the work orders and purchase orders had been set up, though no formal
contracts had been signed, and vendors were scheduled to begin arriving at 2:00pm on Thursday,
February 7 to set up (Exhibit 2). The MIT Sloan administration had agreed to host an alumnae
breakfast at the conference. In-kind donations had been solicited from coffee and pastry shops in the
area, who would be delivering items on the day of the conference. However, on January 24, the MIT
administration notified Lea that they could no longer sponsor the alumnae breakfast as originally
promised due to budget constraints. With just two weeks until the conference, the team scrambled yet
again to adjust.
The sponsorship team, led by Rachel, began planning for the conference in late June 2012. Initially a
small group worked on drafting promotional materials that would be shared with potential sponsor
organizations and would provide a summary of the 2012 conference, the vision for 2013, and
information about the benefits of sponsorship. With this information in hand, the team began reaching
out to the prior years conference sponsors to gauge their interest in sponsoring once again. The team
had a fundraising goal of $40,000. This amount, in addition to the revenue from ticket sales, would
enable them to cover all conference costs and have a buffer, which could be applied to the following
years conference should the funds not be required. While many of the previous years supporters
were interested in partnering with SWIM again, many companies did not have the same budget
resources available to them, and as such the sponsorship team was hard pressed to raise enough
money to fund the conference. Rachel turned to the first year student committee to help brainstorm a
list of new sponsor organizations and reach out to their network of contacts. Despite getting off to a
slow start, a driven first year student stepped up taking on virtually all fundraising tasks and, in late
January, signed the final sponsor, bringing the fundraising total to $38,000, enough to fund the 2013
Miraculously the week before the conference, speaker recruitment, marketing, operations, and
sponsorship were all coming to a successful close.
Final Preparations
Monday, Feb. 4
Five days to go. On Monday, February 4, students arrived back on campus after their January break,
ready for a new semester. The energy level was at an all-time high as the full conference team, 20
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members strong, assembled to discuss final details on the event that was now 11 months in the
Much like a dress rehearsal, the operations team walked through all events for the week, hour-byhour, to finalize last minute details. The marketing team confirmed that the event was officially sold
out with 500 tickets disbursed (Exhibit 3), and the sponsorship team officially closed out their
sponsorship efforts with $38,000 raised, confirming that the conference would easily break even on
costs (Exhibit 4). All 15 speakers had recently been confirmed and information on their travel
logistics was being collected. Outside of the five-member leadership team, most students had been
focused on their own assignments until now, and this was the first time they were able to see the
breadth of work that had been completed to date. At the meeting, final decisions were collectively
made regarding social media strategy for the day of the conference, speaker biographies were
approved for the programs, and signs for the event space were designed and sent to the printers.
Tuesday, Feb. 5
On Tuesday, between and after classes, the co-presidents focused on last minute details for the
conference including printing nametags, determining the room-flow for the event space,
communicating with the photographer, assigning handlers for VIP attendees, and setting up
interviews between speakers and members of the media. Volunteer assignments, that took into
consideration both the schedules and personal interests of 50 student volunteers, were confirmed.
Late that afternoon, murmurs began that a snowstorm was approaching, but in New England,
predictions of inclement weather were an ordinary occurrence. Weather reports were vague, varied,
and contradictory across networks (Exhibit 5). The conference team continued operating according to
the original schedule, knowing that since 1997 MIT had closed only twice due to snow. As Janet
remarked, Boston is Boston. There is really no way of knowing so lets just keep going. Its just go
go go. There is a lot to be done.
However, as night approached, weather predictions became more distressing.
Wednesday, Feb. 6
Forty-eight hours before the start of the conference, weather predictions across different networks
began to indicate the possibility that a major storm would hit the Boston area some time on Friday.
Starting at 8:00am, the team began operating on two streams: (1) continuing to prepare for Fridays
conference with the finalized set of speakers, and (2) identifying alternate local speakers should
flights be canceled.
At 9:00am, an email was exchanged among the conference leadership team:
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Weather looks like itll be ok in the AM on Friday but get steadily worse for the evening.
Hopefully this means speakers will be able to arrive and leave without issue. Here is a status
report on travel plans:
Traveling in:
Alison Gerlach: Arriving Thursday night
Julia Hu: Flying in from San Francisco Thursday afternoon
Julie Sygiel: Train in from NYC Friday morning
Sandie OConnor: Switched flight to Thursday night due to weather concerns
Maura ONeill: Flight from DC Thursday evening
In case of contingency for above speakers:
Christina Chase can move to Panel #2 (Ill ask her today)
2 of 3 speakers on Panel #1 are local, even if Julia cant make it
All Keynotes are flying inthis is a tough one. I know an MIT professor who could
possibly do a talk last minute (Ill ask today)
Thirty-six hours before the event, the conference team sent a message to all attendees notifying them
that the conference would continue as scheduled and reminding them of key logistics (Exhibit 6).
Since Monday, the team had been receiving emails from people on the waitlist for tickets, asking if
there was anything they could do to get off the waitlist. Worried that people might be scared off by a
potential storm, the marketing team began releasing tickets from the waitlist although the event was at
full capacity. The remainder of the day unfolded rapidly:
4:47pm: One of the corporate sponsors of the conference and a core sponsor of SWIM
emailed to say their three representatives, who were coming from upstate New York, would
not be attending due to the weather forecasts. There was no mention of any implications for
sponsorship funds.
7:14pm: New weather reports indicated a stronger storm than earlier anticipated and in
response, Christine Pugh, SLO director, contacted the leadership team requesting a meeting
for the next day to discuss contingencies should MIT close (a historically rare occurrence).
8:35pm: Attendees began emailing the conference team to ask about postponement and
cancellation options, and when they would get their money back. These emails trickled in
throughout the night and into the next day (Exhibit 7). They were not sent any response.
Thursday, Feb. 7
T-minus 24 hours. Thursday morning began early, though none of the presidents or conference
directors had been getting a full nights sleep that week. The team pushed forward, operating under
the assumption that either the conference would continue as planned, or face speaker cancelations.
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Before, between and during classes, texts and emails were fired off rapidly between the conference
directors, presidents, and within each conference committee. At 7:33am, Tarini wrote, If I keep
getting so many emails from ticket attendees asking if the conference is cancelled, I will have a legit
breakdown. Ive gotten nearly 100 emails this morning. Let me know what they say at the 9am
meeting. Rachel responded with, According to my latest weather stalking this thing will go on.
Snow wont get bad until afternoon.
At 9:00am, Lea, Rachel, and Merrill attended a meeting at the SLO, at which time multiple
contingency scenarios were discussed. The following email was sent to the entire leadership team to
summarize the meeting and next steps:
We talked about a couple of different scenarios with Marco Esquandolas, Christine Pugh, and
Sharon Knope this morning:
A. Move forward as planned expect some speakers not to make it, and low attendance.
Potentially hold a half-day conference.
B. Cancel the conference this afternoon. Marco Esquandolas is doing some recon for us
today on whether MIT is likely to close, but there is no indication that this will happen
C. Wait to receive notification of MIT closing tomorrow (likely late tonight or early
tomorrow morning; could be either full day or half day closure).
1) Now Janet/Merrill reach out to speakers now to get latest news on travel plans
2) Now Merrill check in with MIT Sloan Dean to update him on contingency plans
3) 12:30PM Lea check in with Marco for update on MIT closure status
4) Until a decision is made, Tarini should not respond to any emails from attendees
As of 11:00am, the speakers team had identified local speakers, should confirmed speakers face travel
delays or cancelations. At 11:30am, conference discussions were temporarily put on hold while
Rachel and Tarini attended a SWIM event on personal finance and career decisions for women,
unrelated to the conference. It was a longstanding goal that the conference not detract from SWIMs
general programing at any point during the year. As a rule, at least one, if not all three, of the clubs
presidents attended any of the events the club held. Lea was not present, as she was initially planning
to print the 500 nametags needed for the next morning. As a last minute decision, the team decided to
hold off on this task, and she instead checked in with Marco to see if he had received any more
information regarding the likelihood of an MIT closure.
While waiting for Marco to return to his office, Lea emailed the operations committee and the
conference leadership team at 11:53am with an updated operations schedule and the following
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message suggesting she had received some good news: For now, please notify all vendors that we
are moving forward as planned – I will let you know immediately if anything changes! However, at
12:36pm, Lea sent a short, cryptic, and concerning text message to the co-presidents: Just spoke with
Marco – Can you come now?
Decision Time
During the many months of planning, each member of the leadership team had visualized dozens of
possible scenarios for the conference. In some, there were no attendees, the food never arrived, or the
speakers forgot their talking points. In others, the room was packed and the crowd was on their feet
giving thunderous applause for a life- and career-changing event. After so many setbacks, it was
finally all within reach, and it was going to be glorious. Except now, there was a new and
unprecedented scenario to consider canceling the conference for a potentially monstrous
snowstorm, when there was not a cloud in the sky or a snowflake on the ground.
At 1:30pm on Thursday, February 7, SWIMs three co-presidents and two conference directors, who
had been in varying states of misalignment and frustration for so long, met with Marco in his office to
sort through their options. Weather reports had been monitored from different networks. Now, there
was every indication that a storm would hit Boston at some point, but most networks expected the
storm to hit after 12:00pm on Friday, while others said it could be as late as Friday night. It was
simply too early to tell.
Janet and Merrill collected a status update of where each speaker was, and when planes would begin
taking off toward Boston. They confirmed that all 15 speakers were unfazed by weather reports and
were ready to attend the conference the next day, regardless of the potential snowstorm. One had
already changed her ticket to fly in earlier to avoid any airport closings, and a second could not be
reached as she was already on a flight from London.
At precisely 2:00pm, vendors would begin setting up the venue and SWIM would be liable for the
costs. Further, if MIT closed, the rental fees would triple from a one-day rental to daily rentals
through the weekend, when the rentals could be picked up. Lea did a back of the envelope calculation
and quickly saw that if the conference was canceled after vendors arrived, the costs could increase
significantly. The catering company had already warned her that it was too late to cancel the
perishable food items that had been prepared for the conference it was unclear what percentage of
the $13,000 catering bill would be recoverable. Lea knew what her vote was, but she was curious to
see which way her two co-presidents were leaning.
The MIT administration had not yet closed the Institute, and would not comment on if they would.
MIT rarely closed its doors, but if it did no events would be allowed on campus, including the
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What would happen if the conference was not canceled, and MIT closed later that night? What if the
conference was canceled, MIT did not close, and the storm only hit Friday night? What would be the
fallout with attendees and corporate sponsors? Rachel was particularly concerned about the
ramifications for the sponsors, whom her team had worked so hard to secure. Would SWIMs
reputation be impacted? Would they be able to secure sponsorship funds in the future? Tarini
wondered if attendees would show up for the conference, even if it was not canceled, and if they did,
was there a risk of them being snowed in? If the team opted to cancel the conference, would they be
forced to give back ticket revenue, and, if so, how would that affect the bottom line? Could they
really give up on the event that they had sacrificed for and had devoted the last year of their lives to?
The entire conference revolved around the theme of coming to the brink of failure and still finding a
way to succeed. With graduation around the corner, there would be no second chances.
Given that most weather forecasts suggested that snowfall would only begin at 12:00pm Friday, and
would not escalate until early evening, Merrill began championing the idea of a half-day conference.
Could they run the events concurrently instead of sequentially, giving attendees the option to choose
which speaker to hear from? Since the event space would be set up for one speaker at a time, would
it even be feasible? Would attendees show up for a conference that only lasted three hours, and if not,
would low attendance be disrespectful to the high profile speakers?
The conference directors and co-presidents narrowed it down to three choices:
1. Cancel the conference before 2:00pm, thus saving operational costs that would otherwise be
2. Hold a half-day conference with concurrent speakers.
3. Wait until Thursday night to make a decision, based on more accurate forecasts and updates
on speaker travel plans.
While initially on the table, rescheduling was not an option for the team. With only three months left
before the conference leadership team graduated it would be impossible to find a date that worked for
all, or even most, of the speakers. Additionally, because the venue had no availability in March,
April, or May, the team would need to find a new location for the conference. They would in effect be
planning an entirely new conference in one-quarter of the time it took to plan the initial conference.
For these reasons they knew rescheduling would not work.
In his facilitator role, Marco Esquandolas remained an impartial observer, telling them,
The way I look at clubs on campus is that it is your chance to practice management. You put this
all together. You know best if you should cancel or go forward. In all my years here, this situation
is unprecedented. If it is canceled, it will be devastating. If there is a storm, it will be devastating.
If there is no storm, it will be devastating. I will support whatever decision you make.
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The women discussed their options at a rapid pace, knowing the minutes were winding down. How
would speakers react if the conference had to be canceled after they had already flown in? Would
companies expect sponsorship money to be returned? What was best for the safety of attendees? How
much of the setup cost would be sunk if they postponed the decision? If first year students never got
to see a conference executed, what would a cancelation mean for the legacy of SWIM? What alternate
venues could accommodate the conference if MIT closed? Would it even snow?
The only thing they were sure of was that whatever decision they made would have a long-lasting
impact on the event and organization that they were so dedicated to.
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Exhibit 1 Conference Agenda
8:00AM 9:00AM Registration Opens
Networking Breakfast
Alumni Breakfast (MIT Sloan Graduates)
9:00AM 10:00AM Introduction by MIT Sloan Dean Schmittlein
Morning Fireside Chat: Maria Cirino (.406 Ventures)
Moderated by Bill Aulet (Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship)
10:00AM 10:15AM Coffee Break
10:15AM 11:15AM Spotlight: Leadership and Gender: Does it Matter?
Exploring male and female leadership styles across industries
Nancie Fernandez (Deloitte), Julia Hu (Lark Technologies), and Martha
Samuelson (Analysis Group)
Moderated by Emilio Castilla (MIT Sloan)
11:15AM 11:45AM Case Study: Vanessa Green (FINSix)
11:45AM 12:45PM Networking Lunch
12:45PM 1:45PM Afternoon Fireside Chat: Sandie OConnor (JP Morgan Chase)
Moderated by Shari Loessberg (MIT Sloan)
1:45PM 2:45PM Spotlight: Risking the F-Word
Redefining the fear of failure for women
Alison Gerlach, Catharina Lavers Mallet (, and Julie Sygiel (Dear
Moderated by Christina Chase (MIT Sloan)
2:45PM 3:00PM Coffee Break
3:00PM 3:30PM Case Study: (Bain Consulting)
3:30PM 4:30PM Closing Keynote Speaker: Maura ONeill (USAID)
Exhibit 2 Conference Operations Schedule
Wednesday 2/6/13
11:30 AM Gift bag assembly begins in SLO
1:00 PM Lea picks up keys/elevator pass from Kevin Davis at Media Lab
5:00 PM All bags in SLO storage
Thursday 2/7/13
1:30 PM Prior event at venue ends
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2:00 PM Venue is available to SWIM
Facilities men arrive to break down prior event
4:00 PM SWIM team begins to drop off completed gift bags
Facilities men depart (expected 2hr setup)
5:30 PM Florists drop off flowers (expected 5:30 – 6pm)
6:00 PM Furniture vendor 1 delivery arrives (expected 6pm)
Furniture vendor 2 arrives to reset stage
6:30 PM Venue lobby doors officially locked
Lea to provide access after to doors and freight elevator
Lighting arrives (expected 6:30pm)
Furniture vendor 2 departs
8:00 PM Furniture vendor 1 departs (expected set no later than 8pm)
Lighting departs
9:00 PM Official reservation for the night ends (SWIM members still on site)
10:30 PM SWIM team schedule run through (including A/V and Video planning)
11:00 PM Venue freight elevators will no longer operate
Friday 2/8/13
5:30 AM Venue freight elevators begin operating
Lea to provide access
7:00 AM Pastry pickup (separate from catering)
SWIM conference organizers begin to arrive
2 day custodians arrives
Lighting arrives
Lauren Ankeles, Marine Graham, Roberta Pittore and Priyanka Ramamurthy
July 5, 2013 15
7:15 AM A/V and Video Production arrive (expected 7-7:15)
7:30 AM Caterer arrives to set up breakfast (server on hand all day)
SWIM conference volunteers scheduled to begin arriving
VIP Room check
Venue lobby doors unlocked
8:00 AM Official start of conference agenda
Registration for Conference/Breakfast begins
9:00 AM Caterer arrives to set up AM snack
9:30 AM Coffee delivery
10:30 AM Organizers sign up to fill holes in networking lunch (if needed)
10:45 AM Caterer arrives to set up lunch
1:15 PM Caterer arrives to set up afternoon snack
4:30 PM Official Conference Agenda ends
Day custodians depart
Caterer expected to begin clean up
5:00 PM Caterer departs
5:30 PM Facilities arrives for venue reset
A/V and Video Production depart (expected)
Lighting departs (expected)
6:30 PM Venue lobby doors locked
7:00 PM Furniture vendor 1 delivery arrives for pick-up
Furniture vendor 2 arrives for stage pick-up
7:30 PM Facilities departs after reset (expected)
8:00 PM Furniture vendor 1 departs (expected)
Furniture vendor 2 departs (expected)
Lauren Ankeles, Marine Graham, Roberta Pittore and Priyanka Ramamurthy
July 5, 2013 16
Exhibit 3 Ticket Sales Breakdown
Exhibit 4 Sponsorship Funds Raised
Sponsorship funds totaled $38,000.
5 organizations donated $5,000 each and were promised:
Dedicated table with students interested in your company at networking lunch
Recognition on SWIM website
Twitter and Facebook mentions beginning 2 weeks before event
Company profile on SWIM website
TBD Final SWIM volunteers depart with supplies, etc.
11:00 PM Night custodian arrives (has full access to the building)
11:00 PM Venue freight elevators stop operating
7:00 AM Night custodian expected to depart
Lauren Ankeles, Marine Graham, Roberta Pittore and Priyanka Ramamurthy
July 5, 2013 17
Company profile listed in conference program
Thank You from SWIM leadership at opening and during event
3 organizations donated $3,000 each and were promised:
Recognition on SWIM website
Twitter and Facebook mentions on day of event
Company name and logo listed in event program
Thank You from SWIM leadership at opening of event
3 organizations donated $1,000 each and were promised:
Recognition on SWIM website
Company name and logo listed in event program
2 organizations donated $500 each and were promised:
Recognition on SWIM website
Exhibit 5 Local Weather Reports, 2/5 2/7
Tuesday, February 5
No mention of snow
Wednesday February 6
On Wednesday afternoon, Brad Panovich, a meteorologist in Charlotte, N.C., tweeted to more than
15,000 followers: So Boston could get either 51 of snow or 3.5 of snow. The ensemble mean is
24. He was citing the Short Range Ensemble Forecast of the National Centers for Environmental
Prediction, a model that gave a small chance of both extremes. But still possible, Panovich tweeted.
February 6, 2013, 2:23 PM ET
The Wall Street Journal
Weather Journal: Snowstorm of Uncertainty Nears
the coming storm looks to be as close to a meteorologists worst nightmare as can be imagined,
and heres why: Warm air at the coast will stifle snow accumulations, while just a few miles inland
the parent storm could produce hefty precipitation totals. The general rule of thumb is that an inch of
rain equals 10 inches of snow, so any inconsistencies are greatly magnified. The result is shaping up
to be an extremely tricky storm outlook, especially more than 48 hours in advance an eternity in
weather forecasting. But as the National Weather Service in New York City warns: There is the
potential for this to be the strongest winter storm of the season.
Lauren Ankeles, Marine Graham, Roberta Pittore and Priyanka Ramamurthy
July 5, 2013 18
Thursday, February 7
Better get ready. National Weather Service forecasters say this morning that not much has changed
about their forecast for the snowstorm that will wallop Massachusetts on Friday. Its still expected to
be a doozie, possibly one for the record books. Forecasters have issued blizzard watches for much of
the state, warning that the storm may drop as much as 2 feet of snow, which will be whipped up by
high winds and gusts that could reach 65 miles per hour in some areas.
February 7, 2013
The Boston Globe, Metro Section
Snowstorm may bring 30 inches as anticipation builds in Mass.
The noreaster forecast to slam the state Friday is creating a perfect storm of expectations, fueled by
increasingly dire weather reports and flurry of tweets relying on the reams of raw data available
online. Based on different models used by the National Weather Services Storm Prediction Center,
there were 22 different forecasts of how much snow could be dropped on the region by Saturday,
ranging from 3.44 inches to a little more than four feet. A look at the predictions is below, along with
sizes of items for comparison.
Exhibit 6 Email to Attendees (2/6)
Date: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 6:30 PM
Subject: Message to attendees of 2013 Sloan Women in Management Conference Dare to Fail
Thank you for registering for the Sloan Women in Management Conference taking place this Friday,
February 8th! We are thrilled to share this event with you. With less than two days to go, we wanted
to remind you to bring your ticket, in electronic or paper form for a quick and easy registration. Join
us at the Networking Breakfast from 8-9AM before our first speaker takes the stage (the
incredible Maria Cirino of .406 Ventures).
We are very excited to welcome you and our fabulous speakers to MIT on Friday morning (directions
here), snow or shine.
Registration will available all day, beginning at 8 AM.
We look forward to meeting you on Friday.
Best regards,
SWIM Conference Team
Lauren Ankeles, Marine Graham, Roberta Pittore and Priyanka Ramamurthy
July 5, 2013 19
Exhibit 7 Selected Emails from Conference Attendees (2/7)
Date: Thursday, February 7, 2013 7:20 AM
Subject: RE: Message to attendees of 2013 Sloan Women in Management Conference Dare to…
Thanks for the welcome, but it looks like Boston is going to get wiped out by a winter storm! What
are your alternative plans???!!!
Date: Thursday, February 7, 2013 7:35 AM
Subject: RE: Message to attendees of 2013 Sloan Women in Management Conference Dare to…
Good morning.
Given the impending blizzard, will this conference be rescheduled? Thanks!
Date: Thursday, February 7, 2013 12:44 PM
Subject: Please reconsider rescheduling due to storm
I am writing with the hope that your team would reconsider rescheduling tomorrows conference. I
certainly respect all of the difficult work that goes into scheduling speakers, logistics, food, etc., but
reports have been broadcasting all day about the Mayor of Boston asking people to be off the road
after 12 p.m., and numerous companies telling workers to stay home tomorrow. I am pregnant and not
excited about sitting in snowstorm traffic tomorrow evening; at the same time, I dont want to forfeit
my registration investment either, since I am starting my own business and funds are tight.
Thank you for your consideration.

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