Many women don’t realize that they can achieve their dreams and execute on their passions in business,” Connie Duckworth has said. “It really is a wonderful form of self-expression. And the beauty of having a successful business is it gives you a wonderful economic platform from which to do good.”
Duckworth has used that platform throughout her career. She began at Arco in the oil business in the late 1970s when the industry was at its hottest, then became a woman of firsts at Goldman Sachs, serving as the firm’s first female sales and trading partner, co-head of the Municipal Bond Department, head of Fixed Income in Los Angeles, and co-head of the Chicago office. All the while she spent hundreds of hours helping younger women understand the hows and whys of succeeding in business.
In 2001, Duckworth retired from Goldman to make mentoring fledgling businesswomen her full-time vocation. She cofounded 8 Wings Enterprises, a group of angel investors that advises and selectively funds early-stage, women-led companies, co-authored The Old Girls’ Network: Insider Advice for Women Building Businesses in a Man’s World and served as chair of the Committee of 200, a professional organization of the nation’s most powerful women entrepreneurs and corporate executives.
Now Duckworth is in the spotlight for her work as founding president of Arzu, a not-for-profit organization that aims to provide sustainable income to Afghan women by sourcing and selling the carpets they weave. “There’s a ‘woman-made’ craft made in virtually every remote region in the world,” Duckworth told the New York Times, which featured Arzu in January. “The key is to connect them with the biggest consumer market in the world, which is us.” She said her Wharton training “helps her bring private-sector skills to apply to public-sector problems.”
Duckworth is a member of the School’s Board of Overseers and winner of the Kathleen McDonald Distinguished Alumnae Award from the Wharton Women in Business organization. When the Wharton Club of New York revived its Joseph Wharton Awards in 2006 after a 15-year hiatus, Duckworth was one of the first honorees.