It comes as no surprise that Talia Bender ’10 was recently recognized as one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30.” The dynamic 28 year-old – president of The Female Quotient, a company aimed at advancing equality in the workplace – excelled from an early age, making the jump from intern to C-suite executive in just seven years. Today, she oversees a sprawling enterprise that is building the first and largest community of female leaders at conferences and events around the globe, from the World Economic Forum in Davos to NBA All-Star. Her rise has been meteoric – and it started with her tenure at Milken.
“Milken was incredible because it gave me a chance to be a leader across a number of different areas,” she says. “It was an exciting mix of both academic and social opportunities. My junior year, I took AP physics and chemistry at the same time and still managed to participate in extra-curricular and social activities. Today, relationship building is one of my most important skills in business.”
Milken’s emphasis on developing well-rounded students gives it an advantage over competitors, Talia says. Whereas other schools tend to be single-minded in their approach to excellence, Milken encourages students to explore, to stretch, and to grow. “I was never hyper focused on one area,” she says. “At Milken I played water polo, helped run the yearbook, and sang with an a capella group. Having such a broad range of experiences helped nurture my creativity and taught me to work with all types of people.”
The school also gave Talia access to a tight-knit community that has paid off professionally. “When I was studying abroad in Florence as an NYU undergraduate, I mentioned to a friend that I was looking for a summer internship. He suggested I contact his mom, Shelley Zalis, for advice. I reached out and discovered she was a Milken parent – her two younger children were students there,” she says. “Shelley offered me an opportunity to work for her, and I haven’t stopped since! She founded The Female Quotient a few years after I joined her team, and her generous mentorship and our partnership have enabled me to have a very meaningful career since graduating from college.”
Talia says Milken’s impact on her personal life has been equally profound. “I’m 10 years out of high school, and many of my close friends today are from Milken,” she says. “There’s something exceptional about the school that encourages deep and enduring friendships, as well as an expansive Milken network.”
By dedicating her career to increasing visibility, leadership opportunities, and entrepreneurship for women and underrepresented minorities, Talia is making her Milken community proud. Her record of distinction includes being named a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Goalkeeper and serving as an executive mentor for Adweek. She has also played a pivotal role in advancing the Association of National Advertiser’s high-profile #SeeHer initiative, dedicated to portraying women and girls accurately in the media.
Jewish leadership is equally important to Talia, and she was selected to become a member of the Schusterman ROI Community, a network of young innovators driven by Jewish values to foster global positive social change. She also holds a national position on the TAMID professional board.
As Talia sees it, these milestones have been made possible, in great part, thanks to the educational foundation she received at Milken. Remaining grateful for her experience there, Talia serves on the Milken alumni board to encourage fellow alumni to retain their Milken affiliation and long-term commitment to the school’s future.