Texas McCombs has had the privilege of partnering with the non-profit organization The Forté Foundation to provide access to education, opportunities, and a supportive network to empower women in business education and management leadership since 2001.
Forté is committed to “changing the balance of power in the workplace” and strives to provide women with the resources they need to become leaders in business. The foundation has awarded $180 million in fellowships and has helped nearly 8,000 women earn and pursue their MBA.
Forté also provides advice and resources on their Business 360° Blog, hosts women-lead webinars and connects students and working-professional women all year around.
McCombs continues to be an active partner by participating in Forté events across the country and hosts women-focused conferences and events every year. We also attend their annual conference every year. This event brings together women from across the nation for a weekend of professional development and networking with top industry leaders, employers, and peers. This year’s conference was held in Chicago in July.
Firsthand Experience: Being a Forté MBA
Elpidia Gamez, MBA Class of 2021
Elpidia Ellie Gamez, new MBA and Forté Fellow, said she chose to attend McCombs for the collaborative community and plans to pursue a healthcare concentration. She appreciated that McCombs gives her the opportunity to work with the globally-recognized Dell Medical School and the College of Pharmacy on pharmaceutical innovation and commercialization.
“I can continue to develop and improve my leadership skills through McCombs’ unique MBA+ Leadership Program and participating in student-led organizations, such as GWiB and MBA Healthcare Association,” says Elpidia. “Also, Austin is not only a cool city with great eats and a fun social scene, but also a center for innovation and budding technology.”
McCombs hosted a pre-conference dinner for our Forté fellows at Giordano’s for a taste of famous Chicago deep dish pizza. This gave our fellows the chance to meet and talk about their post-MBA ambitions and goals. The conference kicked off with keynotes and discussions from business leaders. The fellows then had breakout sessions and panels based on their career and industry interests. Forté also held a Career Expo and Networking Reception where the fellows met with representatives from Forté corporate sponsors who were ready to provide opportunities, advice, and insight.
“It was really great to see so many companies demonstrating their commitment to diversity and inclusion and advancing women in leadership with their participation throughout the day and then at the career expo. The room was abuzz with excitement to meet and speak with potential employers so I’m very grateful to our Career Services team who helped us prepare our pitches and for the engagements we had throughout the conference,” says Elpidia.
A panel of women leaders at The 2019 Forté MBA Leadership Conference in Chicago.
The second day of the conference kicked off with discussions from industry-leading women from Chevron, Google, Liberty Mutual, and Walmart. Forté then hosted career development breakout sessions like, “Leveraging Men as Mentors & Sponsors,” “Classroom Communication Strategies,” and “Set Yourself Apart with Personal Branding.” The fellows also got the chance to vote on Power Pitch Presentations where women-led teams pitch a business plan to panel of judges for feedback and chance to win seed money to continue their business idea during or after business school.
“I thought it was incredibly brave and empowering to see these ladies present their business plan with so much passion and polish to a room full of strangers who were all there to support with cheers and applause,” says Elpidia. The day wrapped up with the Edi Hunt Award and a conversation featuring Jessica Bennett, author of the Feminist Fight Club.
In conclusion, Elpidia expresses one of the best takeaways from the conference:
“I left Chicago inspired and better prepared to further the progress driven by the women who came before me who are now industry leaders both on-campus and in my future workplace.”
Elpidia with her power word “victorious” at the 2019 Forté MBA Leadership Conference in Chicago.
McCombs Graduate Women in Business (GWiB)
The McCombs chapter of the National Graduate Women in Business organization (GWiB) hosts an annual Women in Business Leadership Conference which brings together students, alumni, faculty, and influential businesswomen to address issues and challenges that affect women in today’s business environment.
GWiB also sponsors a professional development series, meets with prospective students, offers a mentoring program, hosts social outings, and organizes an annual boat cruise across Lake Austin. The org also spotlights it’s members on their Instagram page to highlight goals and achievements.
Discover McCombs: Women’s Weekend
In addition to conferences and meetups, Texas McCombs encourages all women MBAs interested in the program to attend our annual Discover McCombs: Women’s Weekend held each fall. Students get the opportunity to tour the beautiful UT Austin campus and Rowling Hall, plus engage with our community through panels, events, and sessions on program resources.
Last year’s Women’s Weekend welcomed 56 MBAs and kicked off at the Kendra Scott Home Office! The attendees also helped FloCode put together 315 Flo Packs for women in need and participated in Google’s #IAmRemarkable workshop. It was truly an amazing event.
McCombs also hosts diversity and inclusion conferences and workshops such as Elevate and Diversity Weekend.
If you’d like to connect with Elpidia about her experience with Forté, the MBA application process, or her background, reach out to her.
We will be highlighting more students and events throughout the year so be sure to subscribe to our blog. If you would like more information about the Texas McCombs MBA program, we encourage you to attend an MBA event—class visits, campus tours, or info sessions on-campus.
Contact our MBA admissions committee with any questions you have. Hook ’em!