SUNY Empire State College Students in Prague and New York Launch a New Lean In Circle

By Tanweer Ali, mentor, Business Management and Economics

March 10, 2016

Current 3 International Lean In SUNY EmpireThis Spring SUNY Empire State College students in Prague, Czech Republic were linked via teleconferencing with Suzanne Lazar, a Business Management & Economics student based in Schenectady, NY during the formal launch of a new Lean In circle. Lean In circles are peer groups aimed at promoting gender diversity in organizations and helping women professionals to network, develop their careers and to network. The concept was inspired by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer and author of the best-selling book Lean In: Women and The Will to Lead.

Lazar founded the first Lean In circle within SUNY Empire after learning about Sheryl Sandberg whilst working on a research paper in a business course on women in business and leadership. The Lean In circle in Prague was founded by final-year business student Kristina Borovkova who met Lazar at the Student Academic Conference last Fall, where she presented her own research on the gender wage gap in the United States and Europe. After sharing experiences with Lazar, Borovkova felt inspired to start a Lean In circle for students, staff and alumni in Prague, and was soon joined by numerous fellow students. The Lean In circle in Prague now has 17 active participants and 122 Facebook group members. Focusing on promoting gender equality, the group welcomes both male and female members.

At the launch meeting, Borovkova spoke about her own experience of gender discrimination during her time in the oil and gas industry in her native Kazakhstan and the need for women to network and build their self-confidence. Lazar, who joined the meeting virtually through teleconferencing software, talked about how she evolved as a SUNY Empire State College student in the Fall of 2014, after an interval of almost 30 years. A whole new world opened up to her at the college, and she engaged in a number of different activities, including founding the Lean In circle. Lazar told the audience that she was very excited to join the meeting in Prague, and to be part of a global college community.

Michaela Melicher, an HR manager and co-founder of the very first Lean In circle in Prague also spoke at the meeting. Melicher told the audience how the group was launched in March 2015, and, after a slow start grew to 32 members with regular meetings.

SUNY Empire State College established a bachelor’s degree program in Prague in 1998, and offers four concentrations: Business Administration, International and Economic Relations, Communication and Mass Media and Psychology. Faculty and students from a wide range of different countries have come together to create a multi-cultural learning environment.

To learn more about Lean In Circles and starting one in your area go to or contact

To learn more about International Distance Learning at SUNY Empire State College go to

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Article Contributors

Tanweer Ali

Jenna Colozza

Joan Faxon

Suzanne Lazar

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