USC Aiken holds its annual Women in Business Symposium

In the bustling world of business, women continue to carve out their path, facing challenges head-on and leaving an indelible mark in business. The annual Women in Business Symposium, held on Friday, Nov. 17., was inspired by the remarkable journey of University of South Carolina Aiken alumna Kimberly A. Kanagy and stands as a testament to the resilience and significance of professional women. This event not only celebrates their achievements in business but also serves as a platform to inspire and educate the next generation of female leaders.

This year's symposium welcomed panelists Julie Kunkle, deputy director small business & innovation, of the South Carolina Department of Commerce, and Dr. Kasie Whitener, educator, writer, researcher, and consultant, from the University of South Carolina Darla Moore School of Business. Dr. Sanela Porca moderated the small business discussion.

To kick off the discussion, Dr. Porca asked Kunkle about the state of business in South Carolina. According to the South Carolina Department of Commerce, 98% of businesses in the state are small to medium-sized, with a staggering 160,000 falling into this category. Of these businesses, 89% have less than 20 employees. The net new businesses in South Carolina in 2022 alone reached an impressive 14,000, reflecting a thriving entrepreneurial spirit.

Technology emerges as a driving force behind the efficiency of businesses, enabling growth and innovation. Dr. Whitener, a corporate veteran with experience in marketing and training for a multinational company, has successfully transitioned into entrepreneurship. She now builds methodologies for businesses, creates marketing materials, and establishes processes that contribute to the success of companies.

Several sectors in South Carolina are experiencing notable growth, providing ample opportunities for women in business. These sectors include professional/scientific/technical services, retail trade, healthcare, construction, and food services. Of these, the professional/scientific/technical sector stands out as particularly favorable for women, offering flexibility and the ability to shape one's schedule.

As women continue to make strides in the business world, the Women in Business Symposium emphasizes the importance of skill acquisition, flexibility, and leveraging digital skills. The professional/scientific/technical sector allows women to learn valuable skills with large employers and later use these skills as independent consultants. 

Kunkle emphasized the need for gumption and dedication among women entrepreneurs, while Dr. Whitener echoed this sentiment, stating that entrepreneurship should be a fun journey. She advised aspiring business owners to start ventures they are passionate about, learn from their failures, and persevere.

The primary objective of the Women in Business Symposium is twofold: to inspire and to educate.

For more information, contact Kate Channell,