Wednesday, February 6
We woke up early this morning and took a cab to Wall Street. Laurinda Clemente (mom of Amanda ’19) was able to get us on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Representatives from Stella Artois rung the opening bell, and the CEO from Spotify was also on the floor to discuss their podcast acquisition. While on the NYSE floor, we noticed that we only saw men working on the floor. However, to our surprise, we met an incredible women trailblazer, Stacey Cunningham, the first female president of the New York Stock Exchange (after 226 years of existence). It was amazing to see a woman serving in such a powerful role amongst the male-dominated financial district. On our way out, we walked past Peyton Manning, the former quarterback of the Denver Broncos, which was also very exciting!
— Amanda C. ’19 and McKenna O. ’21
After visiting the New York Stock Exchange and meeting the incredible Stacey Cunningham, we headed for Hackettstown, NJ. We arrived at the Mars Confectionery Plant and as soon as the door opened on our monstrous van, the smell of chocolate greeted us. As we were unloading and chattering excitedly about the impending chocolate comas, we were honored with the presence of Victoria Mars, Chairman of the company and a Foxcroft alumna from the Class of 1974. She was a fascinating woman who joined us on our tour, and dressed up with us in our lab coats and helmets (required to prevent any contamination) as we embarked on our plant tour. Mars beared a remarkable similarity to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory — the massive vats mixing the chocolate were like the chocolate river. It looked delicious! The plant was fascinating as our brilliant tour guides, two chemical engineers, led us around and showed us the complicated process of producing the m&ms we see everyday.
While I avoided death and chose to not sample the peanut M&M’s throughout the tour (I’m allergic), the members of my group raved about them and claimed that they were even better than the packaged ones!! The company was incredibly dedicated to their work. Throughout our tour, we saw their values and goals posted to remind everyone what they were striving for.
Later on, Ms. Mars spoke to us about her life at the company and the experiences that inspired her leadership. She started out in the company at a young age sorting through M&M’s and discarding the broken ones. This led her to realize her guiding principles which have created an incredibly collaborative working environment and positive community. Ms. Mars was incredibly humble and down to earth, despite her immense success, something that seemed to be a common trait among the wonderful alumnae we met on our whole trip. Meeting some of the Foxcroft alumnae on the trip was an incredible experience. Their dedication and hard work, which all led up to the careers that they loved and great personal success, was exceptionally inspiring.
We enjoyed a very interactive panel with many of the women in high leadership positions who were all very interesting. All of these women loved their jobs, I found it fascinating that each of these women came from very diverse backgrounds and each had different goals in life, yet they all somehow ended up in a career they never expected, and were all very happy and passionate about their work. They really advocated for taking advantage of all opportunities and trying new things, even if we are not sure if we want to do that. Even if you didn’t enjoy it, experience is everything and can be instrumental in the future. A common theme among the women we met with on the trip was that paths are not always straight and the overwhelming majority of them found themselves living a much different life then they previously thought.
The women we met with, and especially the ones at Mars, feel that within their careers they are really making a difference and helping people. The panel was amazing and all of the women shared their unique opinions and insights on navigating bias, failure, and the path to success. Most of us ended the discussion on a sugar high as well as an inspirational high!
As we were waiting for the rental cars after the panel, we went outside and took pictures with the massive M&M’s. The wonderful Mars company and brilliant women employed there left us with new perspectives and ideas that will certainly be influential to our futures, and have most definitely changed my outlook.
— Claire H. ’21