Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Inside the MBA: perspectives from an NYU Stern MBA2 - Vol. 2

Synergy (noun) - the idea that the value and performance of two companies combined will be greater than the sum of the separate individual parts. Catchphrase of Teddy Kay in the movie In Good Company. Abhorred buzzword by many MBAs, including myself. And it's also what happened to me this semester...

It's finals season at NYU Stern, which means projects, papers and exams galore. It's about synthesizing the knowledge one has gained over the last twelve weeks and demonstrating one's mastery of said knowledge by applying it to hypothetical or real situations. It's supposed to be the "ah-ha!" moment, if you will, when you realize the depths of what you have (or have not!) learned. For me, this finals season revealed my "ah-ha!" that I have become the dreaded cliche and have been learning synergistically. Doh. As much as I do not aspire to be an MBA stereotype or buzzword, this semester is when I started to realize the real value of the MBA, at least in the academic sense. A year ago, I was desperately attempting to make heads or tails of topics I had never comprehended before - finance, accounting, statistics. I was only mildly successful in that attempt, but I mustered through to Corporate Finance, where legendary Stern professor Aswath Damodoran helped me start to really comprehend. Then, this all started to "click". Eureka!

In my last post, I mentioned the classes I will be taking next semester. This time, I'd like to backtrack a bit and talk about some of the classes I've just wrapped up. I'm not sure if I just did an excellent job of choosing my schedule (hint: always find ways to pat yourself on the back) or if this is how business school is supposed to work, but my courses this term were diverse yet all complemented each other and I found that I was able to univerally apply concepts learned in individual classes. Synergy!

In particular, two of my favorite classes this semester were Managing Growing Companies (MGC) and Corporate Finance & Strategy for Entertainment, Media and Technology Companies (Corp Fin for EMT). Both of these courses are taught by clinical professors. At Stern, we are extremely fortunate to attract many working professionals who choose to spend their free time teaching us about what they do on a day-to-day basis. This means we get individuals who have been extraordinarily successful in their respective fields and have the passion to share their secrets with students. My MGC class is taught by Glenn Okun, who was a successful entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Corp Fin for EMT is taught by Tad Smith, who is currently President of Local Media for Cablevision. Both of these classes are case-based, so the discussion is meaningful, engaging and sometimes intense. Both Professors Okun and Smith use a version of the Socratic method and lead the discussion in such a way that you can't get away with a throwaway answer. Meaning, if you answer a question or offer a comment, you then have to explain your answer and your rationale through follow-up questions. This sometimes leads to nerves, sweaty palms and a slight ducking of the head so as to avoid being called on.

What both of these classes have taught me, however, is how to tie together all of the concepts I've been learning while thinking on my feet. Adding even further synergy, I often learn as much, if not more, from the insights my classmates have and offer. But what I've really learned and what these two classes have made me realize is that getting your MBA isn't about always having the right answer. Instead, it is about being unafraid to be incorrect (because nobody is right all of the time) and knowing you have the tools and skills necessary to get to the solution. So now, I can look the professor in the eye when he calls on me and answer with confidence, knowing that even if I'm wrong, there's still a solution in there.

I'll be on winter break for the next five weeks, so the next post will be slightly delayed, but I have good reason! I will be taking a class (we call them Doing Business In) in Australia over the winter break, so I will share with you tales from Down Under next time. 'till then...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Inside the MBA: perspectives from an NYU Stern MBA2 - Vol. 1

During lunch today, marketer and entrepreneur Seth Godin challenged me to be a genius and to lead with my ideas. Well, not me personally, but a room of 150+ Stern students including me. While I certainly don't purport to be a genius, hopefully, I can share some relevant and insightful ideas about the MBA experience.

As an MBA2, I'm now in the position of starting to reflect back on the past 1.5 years and think about the stops I've made along the way. And the one thing that I simply can't get over is how quickly it's all gone by. Apologies for being prematurely nostalgic, but I've just registered for my final semester of classes and already, I'm having a mild panic about all of the courses and professors I won't be able to take. I am, however, pretty pleased with the courses I will be taking in my last semester. At NYU Stern, we choose up to 3 specialization areas and mine are Marketing, Entrepreneurship & Innovation and Corporate Finance. In my last semester at Stern, I'll be taking Valuation, New Venture Financing, New Media in Marketing (I've heard this class is taught by an HBO executive, so I'm excited to get the practitioners' expertise!), Business Plan Practicum, Negotiations and Professional Responsibility. Because I have a background in advertising/marketing, I've tried to round out my skill set by taking classes that are a little past my comfort realm. Let's see how it goes for me with two finance electives next semester!

Last fall, as an MBA1, I dedicated a lot of my time to recruiting and luckily, I was able to land a summer internship in the interactive marketing group at American Express (AXPi). Thankfully, I had a wonderful summer and I know that I will be returning there after graduation. So, this fall, I can dedicate more time to clubs and other activities, like serving as Co-President of Stern Women in Business (SWIB) and as a Graduate Ambassador in Stern's Office of Admissions. These two worlds came together for me last Sunday when we hosted our annual Opening Doors for Women admissions event. I remember attending as a prospective student two years ago, so it was gratifying to be able to stand in front of the room and address 250+ prospective females on how SWIB aims to provide a diverse and collaborative network of opportunity for the women of Stern.

I also remember feeling very nervous and uncertain about the application process and what my next two years could potentially hold for me, so I'd like to offer a humble piece of advice for those of you who are currently in the process of applying to business school or thinking about it. The two years in business school go by so fast, faster than anything I have ever experienced before, and there are so many different opportunities to take advantage of. Some of you have already submitted your application in the first round, while others of you are working to polish your application for the second round. Regardless of whether you are now in waiting mode or are still actively trying to define why an MBA is important to you, I would recommend that you continue to search and explore, whether it's what your professional goals are or what your casual interests may be. Most business school applications ask you to define what your short and long term goals are - I thought I had a pretty good idea of both when I was a prospective and while I am actively pursuing my short term goal, I'm also thinking more about my long-term goals. I think the process of figuring out what you want to be when you grow up is an iterative one and should be approached with curiosity. Business school is the perfect opportunity to explore all facets that interest you, but because we are all mutli-faceted, it's a very fast process! As much as you can, take the time now to continue to explore what you want to get out of your MBA experience so that when the time comes, you will be best prepared to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Careers in Finance: Office Hours with Citi, Deutsche Bank and Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Whether you’re interested in a career in financial services as you pursue your MBA or are looking to make a career move in the near future, the Careers in Finance Office Hours webinar series will get you on the fast track and help you to gain valuable insight into this high-performance profession.

Learn about careers in finances with leading companies in this industry. Interact with firms, explore this industry, and learn what opportunities exist for you. Gain first-hand knowledge of how the current events on Wall Street translate to future opportunities.

Featured Companies and Schedule
Office Hours with Citi - November 11, 12-1 PM Eastern
Office Hours with Goldman, Sachs & Co. - November 17, 12-1 PM Eastern
Office Hours with Deutsche Bank - December 14, 12-1 PM Eastern

Each event is a one hour online webinar that will be broadcast via your computer with the use of headphones or speakers. You will be able to ask questions via an online chat function. Registration is required.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Work experience: more than just years on the job.

When reviewing applications for admission to MBA programs, it's likely
that you'll begin to notice a pattern. Most programs request similar
information regarding your place of residence, academic record and GMAT
score. Some programs have begun to accept the GRE as well.

It is fairly standard for a program to ask you to quantify your work
experience by total number of years or months you've committed to the
full-time workforce. Others may even inquire about internship, co-op, or
part-time experience.

Regardless of how the question is asked, the weight of the importance
lies not with how many years/months/days you braved the elements to catch
the train/bus/car to work to assume your position in your corporate-beige
yet tastefully decorated office/cubicle/desk. The significance of your
work, and therefore relevance to the MBA application, is directly related
to your contribution, the challenges you overcame, the transferable
skills you acquired, and how you grew as a leader.

At Indiana University, most successful applicants have had two or more
years of relevant work experience after an undergraduate degree. We look
at full-time and part-time job responsibilities, and consider your
skills, accomplishments, aptitude for a managerial career and knowledge
of the business environment. We also request a detailed résumé to better
understand your career progress and achievements.

Demonstration of significant and relevant work experience may be judged
slightly differently across programs; however, its importance is
universal. The experience that you've amassed in your pre-MBA career,
provides a frame of reference during classroom discussions, giving you
and your classmates a deeper, more colorful curricular debate. Additionally,
in the competitive post-MBA employment environment that exists today,
the ability to translate your work experience into demonstrated skills and leadership ability may help differentiate you from other strong candidates.

If you are currently working and planning on an MBA down the road, what
can you do now to best prepare yourself, in terms of work experience, for
a successful application? Ensure that the work you perform today and its
results are not merely ecbatic but purposeful. Take on responsibilities
in and out of the workplace that will allow you to grow as a manager and
a leader. Good luck!

Kate O'Malley
Indiana University
Kelley School of Business
Marketing and Admissions
MBA '07

Friday, October 23, 2009

Take a Walk through the Forte MBA School Virtual Neighborhood

So many schools, so much information! The process of researching business schools can be overwhelming and the volume of information available online can easily take you off track. Let Forté help you simplify your efforts! We’re excited to launch a new feature on our website, the MBA School Virtual Neighborhood. This content-rich hub is an online research tool with access to the most important information for women who are exploring their MBA options. Find all of the information you need on Forté sponsor schools - the top business schools in the world - in one central location. Read blogs, listen to podcasts and watch school videos. We also provide a searchable calendar of admissions and women’s events and a convenient Google Map to identify schools by geographic region. Content will be updated regularly so visit often!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

When is the Right Time to Apply for an MBA?

So, you’re planning to apply for business school, but are unsure about the “best” time to apply. Should you wait until you have significant professional accomplishments to share with the admissions team? What about application rounds – is there a round you should target if you’re planning to apply for Fall 2010?

If these are some of your questions about the business school application process, you’re not alone. However, like the components of your MBA application, the “best time” to apply to business school will truly vary by individual.

My admissions colleagues and I see successful applicants who bring with them a wealth of experience from many years in the business world – and we also see successful students who apply to business school early in their careers. When reviewing your application for your potential for professional success, we are typically more interested in the quality of your experience rather than the quantity. Think about the impact you've already had on your organization, whether you've led a team, a project, or an intiative. Be prepared to share examples of your teamwork and leadership experiences.

In this, as in all areas of your application, you will want to do your research with each school you are targeting for admission. Some schools will require a certain number of years of experience. Other schools will welcome applications from talented applicants who may not have significant professional experience. Regardless of when you apply, if you spend time thinking about examples of your potential for professional success, you’ll present a stronger application.

If you’ve decided that you’ll be applying for b-school this year, you’re now likely deciding what application round to target. You should research each school you are targeting for their specific admissions deadlines and preferences. Some b-schools operate on a rolling basis, with more spots available for admissions early in the process. Other schools have strict scholarship deadlines that typically occur earlier in the admissions year.

You may also have personal reasons for applying early in the process. An earlier application submission often means you will receive an earlier decision. This will allow you more time to make your decision, plan for a move, or participate in pre-MBA programs.

Does that mean earlier in the process is always better? Not necessarily. Your application to business school should represent the best picture of you, your strengths, and your possible contributions to your future classmates. It’s important for you to apply when your application is at its strongest. That may mean applying in a later round so you can study for your GMAT, take time and care on your essays, or allow your references to submit a strong, thorough recommendation.

So, what’s the bottom line? The timeline for applying to business school will vary by individual. Your decision to apply this year or in the future will depend on personal factors as well as admissions guidelines. If you do target this year, remember to get in contact with each school you are targeting to get their feedback regarding your application. When you have taken time to put together an application that adequately reflects your strengths and are prepared to embark on your MBA journey, that will be your “best” time to apply.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions about your MBA application or timeline. I’ll be happy to help!

Krystal Brooks
Assistant Director – Masters Admissions
Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon

Friday, October 9, 2009

Women in Business Conferences – Worth Your Time

It’s the time of year when Forté schools start hosting their Women in Business Conferences. Only 5 years ago a handful of MBA programs offered these opportunities. Now about 75% of Forté schools offer events for women with great success. They are wonderful opportunities to meet other prospective women, talk with current women students and alumnae and get a feel for whether the school is a match with your goals and interests. Forté encourages you to attend a couple of these conferences this year – you will not regret it. You can see a comprehensive schedule on the Forté website: And another great way to find out more is to visit the individual schools’ events webpages and blogs. See below for an example of a blog posting about the Tuck Women in Business Conference on November 13-14 (

No-iron pants and women in business?
This post is dedicated to my cohorts, who spent many hours this summer preparing for the annual Women in Business Conference...I can't wait for this event!

Living in New England is an eye opening experience for an Ohio native. There are things that are part of life that were never explained, including no-iron khaki pants, water bottles, backpacks with clips, etc. until I arrived at Tuck. Among the many uses for these items is that they constitute what a good business student needs, to travel to school in the elements AND still look impeccable for interviews and roundtables, once they arrive on campus.

Being a long-time product designer, I love the innovation people develop when there is a tough problem to solve! If people can create ubiquitous solutions for making the business attire more effective, I contend someone can come up with solutions for women, like myself, who often wear multiple hats: student, job-seeker, friend, employee, and eventually (again) business woman? I believe that “balancing” it all remains one of the many challenges of business school classes consistently exceeding 33% women in MBA classes, when women represent half of the population.

I know balance can be achieved because when I was in my corporate role, I was a part of the exciting transformation at my company as the ranks of women leaders approached 50%. The key to our success was women connecting with other women, supporting one another and identifying solutions that enabled women to meet their career AND life objectives. Maintaining a critical mass and gathering often were also important because together we had the power to enrich the broader culture with our values and key life lessons, thereby making the entire company better.

So I will be honest in saying, I wouldn’t be at Tuck if it wasn’t consistent with this part of my career. As a single mother and someone who is unwilling to compromise balance in my life (for too long!), I needed to be in an environment with an active dialogue among women. Throughout my first year at Tuck, I was impressed with the programming of the Women in Business Club at Tuck and the commitment of this group to make a difference for women undertaking the challenge of business leadership.

If you are considering Tuck or business school, I strongly encourage you to attend Tuck Women in Business Annual Conference with the theme of “Developing Relationships that Matter”. This is a great way to spend a weekend, meet women business leaders and gain real solutions for developing a plan that works for you! The conference will take place November 13-14 at Tuck. You can find more details and registration information at tuck.dartmouth,edu/wibc.

Be a part of creating something even more breakthrough than no-iron pants – take a risk and make an investment in creating you!
Posted by Aisha B. T'10

Monday, October 5, 2009

Forté Forum Webinars - Another Great Resource on the Road to an MBA

Maybe you weren’t able to attend one of our Forum events this fall or you attended but would like to learn more. Join us for an upcoming webinar to gain all the information you need to know about getting your MBA. From financing your MBA to learning more about the MBA admissions process to hearing from women of color who’ve sought their MBA, the Forum webinars will put you in touch with successful businesswomen who can provide you with the answers you’re looking for to make this important decision.

Review the complete schedule and Register today at Forté’s Online Events Page. We look forward to seeing you online this month!

Tuesday, October 6
Financing your MBA
Presenter: Don Martin, former Dean of Enrollment at University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Author of “Roadmap to Graduate School”

Wednesday, October 7
MBA Admissions
Presenters: Directors of Admissions at Haas, Darden, Wharton, and Washington University at St. Louis

Thursday, October 8
EMBA Value Proposition
Presenters: EMBA alumnae from Forté sponsor schools including Wharton, Chicago Booth, Queens, Cornell & NYU Stern

Tuesday, October 13
MBA Value Proposition in Non-traditional Industries
Presenters: MBA alumnae from Tepper, MIT Sloan, Carlson and UNC working in non-traditional business industries including media, education, energy and government

Wednesday, October 14
MBA Value Proposition for Women of Color, co-sponsored by the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management
Presenters: Consortium Fellows and other women MBA graduates of color from Mills, Michigan and Cornell

Thursday, October 15
International MBA Programs
Presenters: Women MBA graduates of international Forté sponsor schools including London Business School, HEC, Queens, SDA Bocconi and INSEAD

Tuesday, October 20
EMBA Fundamentals
Presenters: EMBA and Fast Track MBA admissions and marketing directors from Wharton, Cornell, Babson and NYU Stern

Friday, September 18, 2009

Become a Forté Member and Make the Most of Our Resources

Attending a Forté Forum is a major step towards preparing to apply for MBA programs – but it’s certainly not the only one! The Forté Foundation website has many resources to help you through every stage of the process, including:

The MBA Video Diaries – What’s the day-to-day business school experience really like? Watch and learn from women who have documented their first year while navigating study groups, unfamiliar coursework, and the search for a summer internship.

The Quantitative Side of Business School - Don’t let fears about the quantitative needs of business school hold you back. Gain an understanding of the quantitative expectations of an MBA program and prepare for both the classroom and the real-life business world.

Choosing the Right School for You
– Business schools are not one-size-fits-all! Each school has its own unique strengths and personality. Read our Sponsor Spotlights and get meaningful insights into Forté sponsor schools.

Podcasts and Webinars – Listen to past podcasts and webinar recordings and don’t miss this year’s webinar lineup including Admissions, Financing Your MBA, and Executive MBA Programs. With a Forté Premium Professional membership you’ll have unlimited access to all of our online events and recordings. If you’re not yet a member then join us today and then register for one or multiple webinars.

Visit the Getting Your MBA section of our site for even more tips, resources, and personal stories.

Leslie Thompson
Director of Marketing, Forté Foundation

Friday, September 11, 2009

Forté Fellows

Forté Foundation’s mission is to substantially increase the number of women business leaders by increasing the flow of women into key educational gateways and business networks. One of the ways we achieve this is by supporting women financially in their business education. As such, we offer fellowships to women who are pursuing a full-time, part-time, or executive MBA education at participating business schools. Forté Foundation Fellowships are intended to increase the number of women applying to and enrolling in MBA programs.

Each school chooses its own Fellows and has its own criteria for selecting Fellows - no application information is required by the Foundation. Students interested in becoming a Forté Fellow should contact the admissions or financial aid office at the sponsor school of their choice and express interest in being considered for the Forté Fellowship.

Ask each school about their specific selection guidelines. Forté advises schools to choose candidates that exhibit exemplary leadership in one or more ways: academic leadership, team leadership, community leadership, and creative leadership. Schools are encouraged to nominate women who represent diverse educational and work backgrounds, career goals, ethnicities, and citizenship.

Exceptional women candidates of all national origins who have been admitted to participating schools are eligible for consideration. In addition to the above, schools are encouraged to consider candidates who have already demonstrated a commitment to women and girls via personal mentorship or community involvement. Such commitment is in alignment with the mission of Forté Foundation.

Among other benefits, Fellows receive financial support provided through Forté member schools, and they also gain exposure to leading companies in the Forté network. Fellows also gain an immediate network of peers in your fellow fellows that extends beyond your business school. Look into the Fellows program at the schools you’re interested in – we would love to welcome you into this exclusive group of women!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Forté schools are blogging...check them out!

Reviewing Forté schools’ blogs is a great way to learn more about their programs and admissions policies. Below is an example of a blog post from Soojin Kwon Koh, the Director of Admissions at the Ross School of Business at Michigan. You can access the Ross Admissions Blog at

We encourage you to log on to the blogs at all the Forté schools that interest you. Happy blogging!

Why Get an MBA? Part 1.

Many of you may be thinking about getting an MBA but questioning whether this is the right time to do it given the state of the economy. You may be wondering whether you will be able to get a job after graduation. Others may be wondering whether an MBA is the right degree for you; the career path seems less clear than that of an M.D. or J.D. – “What will I do after an MBA?”

I want to provide some food for thought as you grapple with these questions in the coming months or years. No one can accurately predict what the economy will look like in two years. If such predictions could be made, the global economy wouldn’t be where it is today. So in a world where the future is uncertain, you have a choice – you can make a commitment to develop your skills and position yourself to pursue a variety of options, or, you can stay on the path you’re on now and hope that that path will still be valued in two years, continues to provide fulfillment (assuming that it does now), and provides enough development opportunities to enable you to take another path, should that be necessary.

The value of an MBA, particularly one from a top general management school, is that it will equip you with skills that are applicable and valuable to all sectors and industries. It’s not just the private sector that needs people who know how to manage and lead teams, analyze and solve problems, develop growth or survival strategies, and manage resources. From start-ups to nonprofits to the government – all of those sectors need people with these kinds of skills. The same holds true from an industry standpoint as well. From healthcare to education to international development – all industries have a need for people who can think through challenges, identify opportunities, and lead an organization. That’s what an MBA can teach you to do.

I’ll admit it. When I was in college, I was one of those people who thought an MBA was just about working on Wall Street. My interests leaned more towards public policy and corporate social responsibility. So I pursued a Master in Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government. After nearly five exciting years working on Federal budget and policy issues in both in the Executive branch and on Capitol Hill, I was ready for a career change and to learn how other industries worked. That’s when I began exploring an MBA and learned how career-broadening and opportunity-rich an MBA could be. (Of course, if I had known then what I know now, I likely would’ve pursued a dual degree [MPP/MBA] and saved myself an extra year.) My post-MBA career has included management consulting in the consumer business industry to the Director of Admissions at Ross.

The thing I want you to take away from this is that an MBA can make it possible for you to pursue a variety of career paths. And whether the economy is up or down, that kind of flexibility and transferability will always be valuable.

Soojin Kwon Koh, Director of Admissions, Ross School of Business at Michigan

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Forte Forums: The MBA Value Proposition

The Forté Forums are open for registration—don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about the MBA Value Proposition in a city near you. I’m sure the Forum invitation has made it to your inbox. Have you clicked through to register? What’s stopping you?

Perhaps I can help. If you are thinking about an MBA, the Forums are a critical next step. You’ll have the opportunity to ask candid questions of women who have lived and breathed the MBA experience and are now pursuing their dream careers. You’ll meet admissions representatives from top B-schools who can enlighten you about the MBA application process and provide insight into their specific program subtleties, all within a smaller, more intimate atmosphere than other B-school events. And finally, there will be hundreds of women just like you in attendance—women searching for that next career move, trying to determine if the MBA is the right fit. What a great opportunity to start building your MBA network for the future!

The best thing about the Forté Forums is that they are 100% focused on helping women explore the MBA. The questions are different for women and so are the answers. That’s what why Forté created the Forums.

Are you convinced yet? Please join Forté at our
MBA Value Proposition Forums this September to learn more about the MBA and hear the personal stories of MBA women who have gone before you. One past attendee said the Forums are unique because of the “support” and “encouragement” she experienced and the “abundance of valuable information provided.” Take advantage of this great opportunity—you won’t regret it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

2009 Forte Forum Registration Now Open!

Forte Forum: The MBA Value Proposition
September 14 - October 1, 2009

7 Cities across the U.S.

Thinking about an MBA? The Forte Foundation invites women to attend a Forte Forum event to learn, network, and discover what an MBA can do for career success. Forums are held in cities thoughout the United States. Meet with admissions representatives from over 35 top business schools from across the country, and talk to GMAT test-preparation companies. Learn from the experiences of MBA alumnae and current employees at prestigious companies. Admission is $10.
For a schedule of dates and locations, and to register, visit:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

2008 Forte Forum: MBA Value Proposition New Video

Prospective MBA students attended Forté Forums across the country and learned about the MBA admissions process as well as exciting career opportunities in business for MBA graduates.

Watch videos from our popular New York City event, and get advice on MBA Admissions and post-MBA careers.

MBA Alumnae Panel

Admissions Panel