Women learn why risk taking is pivotal for their careers


Elizabeth Jacavino/Iowa State Daily

Around 40 women gathered in the Gallery Room of the Memorial Union Thursday morning to listen to Daniella Levitt, president of two companies, speaking about risk-taking.

Elizabeth Jacavino

Most people are familiar with what it feels like when they are about to do something that could change their life. Their heart races and they can taste the risk.

Daniella Levitt, president of Ovation Global Strategies, talked with a group of women Thursday about the importance of taking career risks and explored why women feel that they cannot take risks.

Sarah Bickelhaupt, a research analyst, said she feels women are seen as a threat when they take a risk.

“It’s more risky for women to take risks,” Bickelhaupt said. “It can be seen as a threat, seen as causing waves. If you’re a woman, you don’t want to cause waves or rock the boat. I’ve seen career repercussions from women who have done exactly that.”

A main point that Levitt hit on was that women need to let go.

“We need to let go of the need for affirmation,” Levitt said. “You are a disruption. You are making waves.”

Levitt compared taking risks to exercising. Women need to continue to take risks and try to become successful.

“Risk-taking is like a muscle,” Levitt said. “The more that you do it, the better you become.”

A group of about 40 women participated in group discussions and activities as they further dove into their own career paths. Many of the women who attended the event wanted to gain insight and advance their professional careers.

Anne Brown, research biologist for the United States Department of Agriculture, said she came to learn how to further her career as a postdoctoral graduate.

Gloria Betcher, associate professor of English, attended to the event to understand her own choices.

“I wanted to gain insight into my past choices I made and into my future choices,” Betcher said.

Bickelhaupt said she attended to become a better professional.

“I’m kind of self-seeking,” Bickelhaupt said. “I always enjoy finding new ways to improve and be better professionally.”

It also helped that Bickelhaupt’s boss approved.

Levitt is a professional strategist. The discussion was based on her book “Ready, Set… Rick!,” which further dives into how women can take greater risks for career advancement.