Category: Diversity & Inclusion (page 1 of 4)

Student Spotlight: Elsa Wright, MBA at Houston Class of 2021

When Texas McCombs MBA at Houston student, Elsa Wright, has a goal, she meets it. While working in the waste management and sustainability industry in Houston, Texas, her goal was senior leadership at her company. Like many professional women, Elsa wondered if she would be able to achieve all her career goals alongside her personal goal of having a family. Below, Elsa shares how she navigated these goals & priorities, overcame her struggle with imposter syndrome, and eventually enrolled in the MBA program. Juggling graduate degree work, motherhood, and marriage in the midst of a pandemic has definitely been a challenge, but Elsa has shown that determination and belief in oneself will ultimately lead you to success.

PHOTO: Elsa's Headshot. She has short brown hair and is wearing a red dress shirt with a black blazer.

Elsa Wright, Texas McCombs MBA ’21

Getting Her MBA

Elsa was eager to gain the foundational knowledge and skills needed to move into a leadership role in her career and knew an MBA from Texas McCombs could get her there. As a minority woman and mother, Elsa faced the realities of the world head-on.

“With recent events in the news, a lot of people have become more aware of the struggles that minorities face every day — struggles that stem into career growth,” she says. “I struggled with the idea that I had to achieve a master’s degree to be on the same playing field as many of my white male counterparts who hadn’t. Intelligence could be equally distributed among our society, but opportunities are not always.”

Elsa says she has struggled with imposter syndrome her entire life and her biggest piece of advice to anyone, especially women and mothers, considering an MBA is: “Just do it!”

“I have personally spent more time considering the idea and deciding to make the leap than I have spent actually getting my MBA,” Elsa says. “I felt that maybe I wasn’t ready, that I should wait for my son to get older, or that an MBA is just too competitive and I might not get in.”

Impostor syndrome— the false belief that others have overestimated your capabilities or that you’re not good enough— disproportionately affects women more than men — especially women of color. One of the direct factors contributing to impostor syndrome is the lack of women in organizational leadership, according to a 2019 Lean In study. The business world, including the realm of business education, has made strides in recent years, but there is still much work to be done toward equity and gender parity.

When narrowing down her prospective MBA schools, Texas McCombs appealed to her because of the prestige, atmosphere, and flexibility it offered.

PHOTO: Elsa standing in front of the University of Texas tower.

Elsa Wright standing in front of the UT tower at sunset.

“As I researched MBA programs, I found that Texas McCombs was the highest ranked in Texas. I attended the info sessions, and instantly felt what I like to call ‘the warm and fuzzy feeling.’ I felt welcomed with open arms, and could feel such a forward-thinking attitude that I could not resist being a part of.”

“The Working Professional program understands and respects that, as a working professional, we’re undergoing a journey,” she says. “The program didn’t require a specialization, but instead teaches you how to speak all languages of business, which allows me to explore where my career may take me instead of fixating on a specific career path.”

The moment she stepped on campus, Elsa knew that Texas McCombs would be her home for the next two years.

“I’ll never forget, it was our very first day of Austin Intensives and Assistant Dean, Joe Stephens, spoke in front of the entire Working Professional class of ’21: He said:

‘For those of you that may suffer from imposter syndrome and feel like you don’t belong here or deserve to be here, I am here to tell you that you do belong, and you do deserve it. We chose you because you have something to offer this program.’

To this day, those words resonate inside me and push me forward to make a difference.”

Pivoting to Online Learning

Elsa says her first year in the MBA at Houston program has been personally and professionally eye-opening. Now, she’s more open to possibility and career challenges, and has the confidence in technical business subjects that she never had before.

“During my MBA experience so far, I have grown both personally and professionally. It has opened my eyes to so many more possibilities in my career and given me a sense of confidence in business topics that I before was illiterate in.”

In her second and final year of the program, Elsa will be continuing her studies in the midst of a global pandemic. She now faces the challenge of online learning, working from home, and childcare.

PHOTO: Elsa, her son and husband.

Elsa’s family

“As a mother of a four-year-old, it became extra challenging since I can no longer rely on daycare during working hours. This means studying during lunch time and after work hours. While some people have caught up on Netflix shows while staying home, I’ve been forced to be even more efficient with my time, juggling motherhood, full-time work and my MBA coursework without the traditional resources I was accustomed to leaning on in the past.”

Throughout these difficult times of uncertainty, Elsa says she’s thankful for her partner, who’s also made sacrifices and has been there to support her through her MBA journey.

“Our fellow mom and dad classmates and I owe our better-halves tons of kudos for holding down the house for us to make this MBA happen.”

Elsa is no stranger to challenges and is looking forward to taking her upcoming and final year at Texas McCombs to the next level to meet her goal of accelerating her career.

“I’m amazed with how much I have grown both as a person and as a professional. Today, I’m able to apply so much of what I’ve learned to my daily work to improve my understanding of my current role, and to understand my company on a micro and macro scale.”

“As a full-time professional and mother, I know that the next year will be a challenge for me to juggle, especially with the continued challenges COVID-19 poses. However, I’m also hopeful that the remaining journey, even though difficult, will prepare me for the world and the challenges to come in the future. I’m confident that this experience will be more than worth the time and effort.”

The Road Ahead

Elsa is most fond of and proud of the moments spent bonding with the women in the program because of their unique perspectives and perseverance.

“Women still generally make up a minority in both business and business education, but that minority is strong and relentless. We make sure to get together, make time and lend an ear to each other.”

“It’s important for women to lift each other up. We make an unwavering, lasting impact in each other’s lives.”

Elsa is currently the Major Manufacturing & Industrial Account Manager at Waste Management in Houston, where she has worked for ten years. She started at the company working for customer service and says she’s been blessed to have mentors who have provided her with constructive criticism and advice to expand her professional growth. In the future, she plans to apply all the skills and expertise she’s acquired through her MBA to go further in her career than she’s ever imagined.

Elsa holding a trophy.

Elsa Wright holding the 2019 Big Eagle Circle of Excellence Award at Waste Management.

In 2019, Elsa was awarded the Big Eagle Circle of Excellence at Waste Management—  an elite, company-wide recognition of the 75 top-performing employees out of the 45,000+ company-wide.  After she won, she was asked to make a speech about what led to her success, to which Elsa replied that there is not just one thing that ever leads to success.

“You can’t sum up success with one award, recognition or promotion. Success is infinite and immeasurable; it’s the culmination of hours, days and years of blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice – emphasize on sacrifice,” she says. “I have been at WM for over ten years, that is over 20,000 hours of work. Success never arrives overnight.”

Elsa’s top tip for success is to not just work hard, but learn.

“I’ve witnessed countless individuals just focus on work, but never make an effort to actually learn. You can always learn something new. I attribute my success to my eagerness to learn and not just understand my role, but the role above mine and the one above that. If I can retain what I learn and teach it to someone else effectively, and possibly dissect the process and create a better one, not only have I become a better asset for my company, but also a better version of myself.”


Visit Texas McCombs MBA to find out more about all our programs, events, and community, or take a peek into student life on Instagram.

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Women at Texas McCombs

Today, Texas McCombs celebrates Women’s Equality Day, which commemorates the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting some women the right to vote 100 years ago in 1920. The Texas McCombs MBA program is proud to have made strides to increase the number of women in our programs, but in both business and business education, we acknowledge there is still much progress to made toward gender parity.  Meet some of our Texas McCombs women who are already leading the way below.

Headshot of Susan Alvarez

Susan Alvarez, Texas McCombs MBA Class of 2021

Susan Alvarez
Full-Time MBA Class of 2021

“It’s important to understand that not all populations are treated equally, and pivotal to help make a change in the right direction.”

Tell us about yourself. What led you to pursue an MBA?

I am a double Longhorn and did my undergrad at UT. Afterward, I was in the Army ROTC and then was commissioned into the army as a Second Lieutenant. I served eight years as a Logistics Officer and during that time, I did two combat deployments in Afghanistan in 2014  and Iraq in 2017. I am now happily married to my husband, Michael, who served in the Army for nine years and is also getting his MBA at McCombs.

The decision to pursue an MBA was honestly difficult for me initially. I loved being in the Army and the work I was doing but being a dual-military couple comes at a heavy price. At the time we decided to leave the Army, Michael and I had been married for five years but had actually lived together for only 18 months. We were on opposing deployment schedules and spent the majority of our marriage apart. In 2016, I interviewed for company command, got the next position in my career path, and two weeks later was on a plane to Kuwait for my second deployment. There never seemed to be a “good time” to have a child and at some point, we had to ask ourselves if what we were doing was best for our goals and our family. Pursuing an MBA would provide me the stability and reassurance necessary to grow a family without the fear of work dictating my life’s choices.

Tell us about being a woman in the workplace and in the military. What has your experience been like, and did this influence your decision to choose McCombs?

As a woman in the army or in the workplace in general, there’s always the thought of maintaining a delicate personality balance; the slight fear of coming off too abrasive, or being too nice and getting taken advantage of. My dad told me years ago, “Don’t ever let them see you cry. Excuse yourself and cry in privacy so that they don’t see you as weak.” He served over 20 years in the Army and tried his best to prepare me. I’ve learned that no leadership style is all-encompassing. You can’t expect to treat every soldier the same and receive the same level of output. You have to make quick mental assessments and be willing to adapt to changing situations.

What do you look forward to in regards to women’s equity? Have you seen change or progress being made at McCombs? 

We’ve come so far from where we were and it is incredible to see the progress we’ve made. I am the President of the McCombs Texas Veterans in Business, where women make up ten percent of our student veteran population. My hope is to inspire other female veterans to take on leadership positions and normalize women in higher ranking roles. I am also a member of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, an organization dedicated to boosting the representation of underrepresented American minorities in the business sector. It’s important to understand that not all populations are treated equally, and pivotal to help make a change in the right direction.

 

Headshot of Jacqueline Newell

Jacqueline Newell, Texas McCombs MBA Class of 2021

Jacqueline Newell
Full-Time MBA Class of 2021

“Women can have a complementary perspective to situations that break up group think or confirmation biases.”

Tell me about yourself and background. What led you to pursue an MBA?

I’m an officer in the U.S. Army with over 18 years of service. I have a background in logistics, but have worked in the Strategic Organizational Design and Development field for the last 10 years and was recently promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. I’m married; my husband retired from the Army in 2016. We have a daughter starting her sophomore year in high school. We were most recently stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany—outside Frankfurt—before coming to Austin for school.

The Army offers a program whereby officers can apply for full-time Master’s degrees fully sponsored by the Army. I saw this as a good time in my career to pursue a Master’s, and I believe having an MBA will not only help me be better at what I do for the Army, but also help me mentor junior officers as they progress in our field.

Tell us about being a woman in the workplace and in the military. What has your experience been like, and did this influence your decision to choose McCombs?

I think being a woman in the military is a great opportunity! Women can have a complementary perspective to situations that break up group think or confirmation biases. This can drive problem solving and innovation. While it may seem intimidating to be in a male-dominated industry, and to offer a different perspective, it is necessary.

I have also found that if I focus on building up the teams I’ve worked on— and sometimes even building teams where none previously existed— the goals were always achieved and the teams have been successful. The collaborative environment of the Texas McCombs MBA was a great fit for this type of leadership style I’ve been developing.

What do you look forward to in regards to women’s equity? Have you seen some change or progress been made at McCombs?

I think it’s challenging to separate and discern correlations and causations when looking at outcomes and women’s equity. What I think is important is the culture and environment that welcomes and promotes women. Texas McCombs has done well to encourage and promote women leaders and give women a voice.

 

Lola Headshot

Lola Sholola, Texas McCombs Class of 2020

Lola Sholola
Full-Time MBA Class of 2020

“I am mostly looking forward to experiencing a complete shift in mindset with respect to how women are perceived, and for women to be considered equal to their male counterparts.”

Tell me about yourself and background. What led you to pursue an MBA, and why McCombs?

I consider myself an “East Coast girl” since I grew up in the D.C. area, though I was born in Lagos, Nigeria. I always had a knack for numbers, so I majored in Actuarial Science at Morgan State University, an HBCU located in Baltimore, MD. Upon graduation, I accepted a role at Liberty Mutual and was relocated to Seattle, WA to join their Analytics Development Program. I stayed at the company for about four years, moved through a variety of roles and gained product management expertise. However, I wanted to explore business more broadly and gain a better understanding on how to lead and run a business unit; hence, my reason for obtaining an MBA degree.

McCombs sort of fell on my lap, to be honest. I started my MBA application process two years into my job at Liberty Mutual and knew I had to attend as many MBA conferences and recruiting events as possible in the Seattle area. As it turns out, an organization called the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management (CGSM) hosted a webinar on “Why MBA” and “Why CGSM” and almost half of the CGSM alumni hosts were Texas McCombs alums. After the session, I stayed back to chat with a few of them and fell in love with their personalities. I made up my mind to do more research about the program; from there, things took off. I graduated this past May and I’m currently working at Walmart in a Finance and Strategy role I love.

What has your experience been like as a woman in the workplace and at McCombs?

Broadly speaking, being a woman is tough in the workplace. I like to consider myself a feminist: I wholeheartedly believe in equal opportunity and treatment for all. Unfortunately, that has not always been my experience and there is still a large pay gap between men and women in the world.

At McCombs, I joined GWiB (Graduate Women in Business) because of its mission to lead toward equality. It provides a space for women to develop their skills professionally and personally. It was an opportunity for me to support organizations working to empower women.

What do you look forward to in regards to women’s equity? Have you seen some change or progress been made at McCombs?

I am mostly looking forward to experiencing a complete shift in mindset with respect to how women are perceived and for women to be considered equal to their male counterparts. There is still a pay gap between men and women in the world. Will this perception ever change? I certainly hope so. Presently, it is difficult to find women CEOs, not just in the U.S. but globally. I think we need to see more women having a seat at the table. Have I seen changes at McCombs? Yes, certainly from a recruiting perspective. McCombs is also a member of Forté Foundation, an organization that provides women with higher education and professional development opportunities. Overall, it is a work-in-progress and McCombs is aware of this and consistently working with GWiB to increase male allies and support.

 

Clara's Headshot

Clara Kraft Borges, Texas McCombs MBA Class of 2022

Clara Kraft Borges
Full-Time MBA Class of 2022

You’ll see that a lot of amazing powerful women out there who are willing to talk, help and just uplift one another.”

Tell me about yourself and background. What led you to pursue an MBA, and why McCombs?

I’m a returning Longhorn. After graduating from UT Austin’s Moody School of Communications, I started a career in Digital Marketing. Prior to MBA, I was working as a Marketing Manager at a startup that was founded in my hometown in Brazil. What led me to an MBA was a desire to learn and help others. I saw that with an MBA I could advance my career, and by doing so, help other people who didn’t have the same opportunities as me. I chose McCombs because I know first-hand about the quality of education at UT Austin, as well as its diverse environment.

What has your experience been like as a woman in the workplace, and what are you looking forward to at McCombs? 

In my experience, being a woman in the workplace means having to put in more work and energy to achieve the same results as your male counterparts that are usually the majority at companies. This is the case not only with women but other minorities as well. While this can be frustrating, I’ve also found that women have supported each other, both in the workplace and outside. We’re shifting from a time when women were seen as jealous of one another to a culture where women support and speak up for each other, which makes me very hopeful for the future.

I’m a proud Forté Fellow. The possibility of joining Forté was one of the biggest points that influenced me to choose McCombs. I’m looking forward to being part of a network of amazing women and being able to pay it forward during my lifetime.

What do you look forward to in regards to women’s equity, and what words of advice would you give women considering getting their MBA?

I mainly look forward to seeing an increased awareness of the inequalities that affect women in the workplace. I spent several years of my career without perceiving workplace situations that favored men, or situations where a woman’s opinion wasn’t heard. It’s painful to acknowledge that this happens, but I believe it’s the first step to bridging this inequality. The second step is speaking up. To women considering getting their MBA, I’d advise you to reach out to other women that you admire or would like to meet, and you’ll see that a lot of amazing powerful women out there are willing to talk, help and just uplift one another. Work on creating a network of women that you admire and you’ll go very far!

eQual MBAs #Pride Stories

As Pride Month comes to an end, Texas McCombs would like to highlight how our Engaged Queer & Ally (eQual) MBAs organization has continued to support the McCombs and Austin communities, share resources and organize exclusively in a digital platform to celebrate Pride this year. Despite being in the middle of a global pandemic, McCombs students continue to stay engaged, as world-changing leaders committed to serving our many diverse communities.

Equal MBA team photo

eQual MBA students at Texas McCombs

Who are eQual MBAs?

Engaged Queer & Ally (eQual) MBAs, McCombs’ LGBTQ+ affinity group, is dedicated to promoting diversity & inclusion in the @utexasmba program & community at large. Every year, they’re committed to recruiting more LGBTQ+ prospective students, organizing regular events, connecting to alumni, and building relationships with allies and sponsors. Furthermore, through their efforts, eQual MBAs bring forth educational discussions to McCombs about gender and sexuality, advocate for allyship and inclusion, and connect members to the larger Austin LQBTQ+ community. Overall, the group is divided into three different pillars: allyship, alumni, and service.

Aside from being full-time MBA students, everyone involved in the organization has faced additional challenges throughout their eQual MBA journey. Despite being the smallest affinity group at Texas McCombs, they continue to grow. Currently, they hold 14 LGBTQ+ members — a record high for the club – along with many allies as members. 2020-2021 co-presidents Andie Parazo and Matt Mason look forward to continuing to grow membership and offering support and resources to the LGBTQ+ and ally community at McCombs.

The eQual MBAs organization, to me, means having a community that will always be there to support me. The members of eQual are not only the people that I rely on to help organize events for the advancement of queer and all underrepresented people’s rights, but they are also some of my closest friends in the MBA program.

— Matt Mason, eQqual MBAs Co-President, MBA Class of 2021

Allyship, Intersectionality and the Importance of Showing Up

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Student Spotlight: Mario Vazquez, Full-Time MBA ’21

Mario Vasquez, MBA '21

Mario Vazquez, MBA ’21

Mario Vazquez is a first-generation college student from El Paso, Texas, or what he likes to call, “The West Texas Miracle.” His journey to Texas McCombs was one of family support and inspiration.

His parents grew up in Matamoros Tamaulipas, a border town in Northern Mexico. They moved to the United States after his dad was offered a job as an electrical engineer in El Paso.  

Mario was born three years later. His parents wanted him to have the best education possible, so they started researching schools and colleges when Mario was only a baby. His mother was especially dedicated to his future and went above and beyond for his education.

My parents, in their mid 20’s, moved to a new country with almost nothing to their name. I often think about how exciting and terrifying the move must have been. They did everything within their power to give me a chance at a better life. My mother learned of a grade school that was known for its strong academic reputation but when she inquired about enrolling me, there were only two spots left and they would be given on a first-come first-served basis at 7 a.m. the very next day. Undeterred, my mom spent the night in the parking lot of what would become my grade school. When the doors opened at 7 a.m. the next morning, she was the second parent in line and I was the last student registered.”

Young Mario with his mother

When it was time for Mario to enroll in high school, his parents weren’t familiar with the American high school to college pipeline. Mario and his parents researched together and discovered that Cathedral High School, a private, Catholic high school in El Paso, maintained a 100% college acceptance rate, but tuition was expensive for the family.

“In El Paso and Matamoros, college is more often a dream than a possibility. My mom, with the same tenacity she showed in enrolling me for kindergarten, found every single scholarship I could apply for and by the first day of school, I was an enrolled student at Cathedral High School and on my path to college.”

Mario eventually enrolled at Stanford University, graduating in 2013 with a B.A. in Science, Technology, and Society. While he was there, he joined and led an organization dedicated to providing need-based scholarships to graduating high school students attending two-year or four-year institutions.

“Being a first-generation, low-income student of Hispanic descent in higher education was the exception, not the norm. I looked for a community of individuals with backgrounds similar to my own, which I found in joining and leading an organization called Los Hermanos de Stanford. As a group, we fundraised annually to provide need-based scholarships to graduating high school students attending two-year colleges and universities. I felt that I was reciprocating the investment so many people had made in me over the years. At that point, I knew how I wanted to use my life– helping students from difficult circumstances earn access to life-changing opportunities.

Mario and his family at his college graduation in 2013.

Mario and his family at his college graduation in 2013.

After college, Mario accepted a position with Teach for America as a 1st-grade language instructor. He loved working with students and noticed how they were impacted by family circumstances or obstacles that he could not help with through teaching alone. He realized that he wanted to scale his impact beyond the classroom. He returned home to work at his alma mater,  Cathedral High School, as the Director of Admissions.

“For those three years at Cathedral, I conveyed the dream of a better life to every student and parent who walked the halls of our school. Throughout my tenure at Cathedral High School, I succeeded in increasing the number of underserved students and the dollar amount of scholarships that we could provide them. On a daily basis I had the opportunity to help change the course of a young person’s life. Working at Cathedral was an honor, the most fun I have ever had, and will forever be one of my proudest accomplishments..”

Mario’s “Why McCombs?”

Mario never imagined he would end up in business school. But while driving around El Paso, he would see a Texas McCombs MBA billboard, and it stuck in his mind.

“Truth be told, I did not think I’d get into business school. I wasn’t sure if top business schools would see the value of my experience in education. I was hard on myself, thinking that perhaps I wasn’t good enough. But my friends and colleagues encouraged me to put forth my best effort and believe in myself– and so I did. I reminded myself that I was worthy and deserving of receiving additional education. I’m blessed to be surrounded by good people, and I’m so grateful I didn’t give up.”

Mario says what sealed his decision to come to McCombs was his experience at Discover McCombs: Diversity Weekend and the opportunity to apply to McCombs through The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, an alliance of top business schools and companies committed to enhancing diversity and inclusion in global business education and leadership.

“When I came to Austin for Diversity Weekend, I had not applied to The Consortium, an organization that provides access to MBA admissions resources for underrepresented students. Jaden Felix, my McCombs admissions officer, took note of that and vehemently encouraged me to apply. To me, someone who has always looked for a community, it was a sign that I would be cared for here at McCombs.

Mario had seen first-hand that even a well-funded, prestigious school like Cathedral couldn’t circumvent every challenge that students face or provide enough aid for every student to attend. He hopes that business school can help him achieve his goal of launching and operating a school that houses an ecosystem of academic and non-academic support for its students and their families. 

For every student I was able to enroll at Cathedral or secure a scholarship for, there were at least a handful more that I could not because of socioeconomic reasons, lack of school resources, etc. Cathedral does a lot of good for so many students, myself included, and all kids deserve a good school with people who genuinely care about their success. I decided to pursue an MBA because I want to dedicate my life toward scaling the impact of schools located in underrepresented and underserved communities.”

Mario’s Advice to You 

“The great thing about McCombs is that the people here, from the staff to students and alumni, have reiterated one common phrase: ‘Don’t forget why you came here.’ To me, this phrase serves as a constant reminder to remember how I have benefited from the kindness and help of others, and my responsibility to do the same.”

“Don’t devalue your experiences and don’t worry about not having the perfect academic or professional profile. I like to think that Texas McCombs, more so than other schools, tries to find people who have made a real impact in whatever capacity they served and genuinely want to do good in the world.”


Stay up to date with all things McCombs by subscribing to our newsletter. Follow us on Instagram to see more about student life. If you have any questions, please reach out to MBA Admissions. Hook ’em!

Diversity Weekend 2019 Recap

This October, the MBA program welcomed 84 future MBA students to Austin for our annual Discover McCombs: Diversity Weekend, which focuses on increasing underrepresented populations in business school. The two-day event brought attendees together to meet current students, alumni, and McCombs faculty and staff to see first-hand all that Texas McCombs has to offer. 

McCombs pop up banner that reads "powering positive change."

Networking in the Heart of Austin

The event kicked off on Friday, October 25th at Facebook Austin for a welcome reception filled with food & drinks and networking. Partnering with Facebook was integral to delivering an authentic Austin business experience for our guests.

Kyle Johnson, MBA ’21 and a student ambassador for MBA admissions, shared his thoughts as an event co-lead at the networking reception:

I am excited to be here at Diversity Weekend. This was a pivotal event for me last year when I was deciding what school to come to. I had a great time interacting with prospective students and giving them a candid view of what life as a Longhorn is like.”

The fun didn’t stop there. After the reception, attendees received glow sticks in different colors and were invited to hang out at Upstairs at Caroline, a popular Austin nightspot, for a casual night out with current MBA students.

Getting to Know Texas McCombs

group photo of current students at diversity weekend.

Current MBA students gearing up to welcome attendees.

On Saturday, October 26th, starting in the morning, attendees gathered for breakfast and were warmly welcomed by McCombs’s Assistant Dean of the Full-Time MBA Program, Tina Mabley. Then, panels of students shared their experiences in the program and MBA Career & Talent Development Consultant, Scott Brownlee, presented our globally-recognized Career Management team and resources. An alumni panel closed out the morning with a discussion about navigating post-MBA life.

 

“I think it’s really important to have events like these because there’s a lot of stereotypes about business school,” said Kathie Xiao, MBA ’20, “Someone might look at the stats when they’re applying to business schools and feel like they don’t see themselves in those statistics. We’re really making an effort to make everyone feel included and have a good experience.” 

At noon, attendees joined a networking lunch with current MBA students. Complementing the student panel, this is where MBAs were able to offer more personalized, candid insight and valuable tips for applying to McCombs. Among the topics discussed in conversations were “class culture,” “commuting to campus,” and how the cost of living prices compare across Austin. 

After lunch, we were proud to spotlight two of our professors for Mock Class Breakouts: Professor Badolato from the Department of Accounting, and Professor Murphy from the Department of Management. These class breakouts gave applicants the opportunity to immerse themselves in student life by highlighting classes from our core curriculum, which every student takes during their first year in the program.

Alumni Panel at Diversity weekend

Texas McCombs MBA alumni panel at Diversity Weekend, 2019.

Diversity Weekend came to a close with several speakers sharing insight on why getting an MBA is a worthwhile venture. First, Executive Communication Coach, Nadina Sandlin, led a workshop on understanding and communicating your value and personal brand. Similarly, our keynote speaker and Microsoft’s Head of Global Talent Optimization, Monica Pool Knox, spoke about her professional journey after getting her MBA at Texas McCombs, and how the program helped shape both her career and the way she thinks about the world around her. Finally, if there were any lingering questions, a second panel of first and second-year MBAs discussed their paths to pursuing their degree, the culture and community at McCombs, and what life in Austin is truly like.

“Austin is very diverse in every sense of the word: Diversity of thought, experience, backgrounds,” said Kyle Johnson. “You can be who you want to be here, and I love that.”

Diversity weekend organizers

MBA Admissions staff Jaden Felix and Rebecca St. Nicholas, and students Carmen Kuncz, Lola Sholola, Vicky Wu, and Kyle Johnson.

Texas McCombs is grateful to all that attended, and to the teams of people that made this event so successful. The event might have ended, but our commitment to fostering a welcoming space for our community is constant.

“It’s two years of your life,” said Kathie. “You really want to be able to give back and leave the place hopefully better than when you came.”


If you have any questions, please reach out to MBA Admissions. For more information on our community and programs, check out our website. Hook ’em!

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