Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanks, Forte.

I cannot imagine my MBA experience without Forte. That sounds extreme, I know , but I’m indebted to the organization for even having the courage to apply for my MBA in the first place. Life is a series of moments and many of my big MBA “moments” are somehow linked to Forte. I remember surfing the internet to learn more about business schools when I stumbled upon a Forte Fellow of the Month blog on the website. Her story mirrored mine and it inspired me to take a risk and apply. Like me, she attended a great undergrad program and studied liberal arts. She had never imagined business school was for her but found her way into the doors of Columbia and hadn’t looked back since. Knowing she could do it and be successful meant I could, too.

My next official touch point with Forte, after being awarded the honor of a fellowship, was attending the Annual Conference in NYC the summer before starting my MBA. I can still remember the excitement and buzz at the Conference. For one, I was exposed to top recruiters from Fortune 500 companies. Back on campus I ran into these same recruiters and immediately I was “in” with them and we had something to talk about. Secondly, at the Forte Conference I felt like I was a part of something bigger than myself – hundreds of brilliant, optimistic young women and professionals gathered to learn from each other and celebrate together. I met MBAs from many schools including Michigan, UNC, and Northwestern. Where we were headed for school didn’t matter because we were all the same one thing: Forte Fellows.

Next I auditioned to be a Forte MBA Diary Blogger because I felt like it was a quick way to ‘pay-it-forward’ and give back. It’s been great fun and sometimes I meet prospective students who have been watching the posts and really appreciate hearing what the MBA is like day-to-day. On campus I met the other fellows and one of the 2nd year Fellows fortunately ended up tutoring me in Quant, my hardest class. Given my connection to the organization and its purpose, I decided to run for President of Kelley Women. Being associated with Forte definitely helped me to be elected and also provided resources to help the club. This past summer it was amazing to return to the Forte Conference and serve on a panel for incoming Fellows and connect with the new Kelley fellows and other Forte alum that I’d met through recruiting and networking. There were endless friendly faces that highlighted to me the value of an MBA and a network like Forte. The energy and commitment from top executives that come to speak and provide training and the devotion of Forte and MBA program Forte alliance staff is unmatched.

As I launch my post-MBA career, I will never forget Forte and what Forte has provided me. Being a Forte Fellow is an honor and to me means a lifelong network and support group that does exactly what the organization promises: Inspiring Women Business Leaders.

Kate Lehman
MBA Class of 2009
Kelley School of Business at Indiana

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