Tag: MBA Women (page 1 of 3)

Community Spotlight: Texas McCombs MBA Women

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.

View this post on Instagram

Every week, we feature a woman from our community. Our #wcw this week is second-year Manasa Murthy! #whymccombs Name: Manasa Murthy Hometown: Diamond Bar, CA Past Work Experience: Critical Care Clinical Pharmacist (Ascension Health) Future Career Goals: After graduation I will be working at HEB as their Director of Health & Wellness. Our goal is to improve the health of Texans through food and innovative services. McCombs organizations and leadership positions: Past Co-President: Health Innovation Fellows, Past Co- VP Events: GWIB, Past VP: Indian Graduate Business Association, Past Board Fellow: Half Helen Foundation, Past Co-Women’s Weekend Chair, MAC Member Who is YOUR #wcw and why? I have many #wcw at McCombs but if I had to pick one it would be Lily Trieu. Lily  is always the first in a group to make others feel welcome and included. She is passionate about education and diversity and goes above and beyond to make meaningful change. I respect Lily for always standing up for what she believes in and know she will do amazing things in the future.

A post shared by GWiB at McCombs (@gwibmccombs) on

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!

Student Spotlight: Dara Chike-Obi, MBA Class of 2019

Dara Chike-Obi, Evening MBA Class of 2019

Dara Chike-Obi,
Evening MBA ’19

Dara Chike-Obi is an Evening MBA student from Houston and a new mom who recently shared her experience of being a new parent while in the MBA program. “Unthinkable exhaustion” is the very honest first response that comes to mind when she is asked about her experience, which was also rewarding and very possible with realistic expectations and family support on her side.

On Being A Student and a Mom

“Ignorance truly is bliss. I was naive and had no understanding of the amount of mental, physical, and emotional energy that is required of a new mom. But I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. As graduation nears, and my child gets older; I feel stronger, smarter, and quicker than I’ve ever felt before. If I can get through this, I can get through almost anything.”

Her Biggest Challenge

My biggest challenge was figuring out how to balance school, new baby, marriage, and a full time job. Many times I had no other option but to put my head down and power through. You soon realize that the toughest parts of your journey are ALWAYS temporary. Take one day at a time, one breath at a time. Eventually, you look up and see how far you’ve actually gone.”

Dara’s Advice

“I have two pieces of advice:

1. Make sure you have help.

This cannot be done alone. Your support system needs to understand that this is an ‘all hands on deck’ situation for the next two years. My wonderful husband rearranged his work schedule so he can be home on class nights to put our son to bed. My mother in-law would drive 4 hours from Dallas with a trunk full of freshly prepared food for my entire family. You must allow people to help you.

2. Accept that there is no balance.

Madeleine Albright said it best:  ‘Women can have it all, just not at the same time.’ You’re going to be pulled in multiple directions by multiple people. Learning to prioritize will get you far.”


We encourage you to review our Parental Accommodation Policy for details on the kind of accommodations it can provide. When you enter a working professional MBA program, we understand that family support is a key element.  Please let us know if you have any questions or need further info.

Elevate: Diversity & Inclusion Conference at McCombs

On February 8th, Texas McCombs hosted its first ever Elevate: Diversity & Inclusion Conference. This event aimed to identity how companies and business leaders create effective strategies to transform their current culture into one where both diversity and inclusion become embedded into the organization’s core values. Texas McCombs students and staff have been participating in more D&I conversations within the program and with the outside business community in recent years with an understanding that MBA community strength and positive growth is fostered through these efforts.

Elevate Diversity & Inclusion Conference at Rowling Hall on February 8, 2019. Photo by Lauren Gerson DeLeon.

The First Conference of Its Kind

Elevate was first conceived by MBA students Ashley Fox and DeAndrea Staes. They identified the diversity and inclusion space as a big opportunity for growth and community outreach for the MBA program.

Through the conference, Ashley and DeAndrea targeted the recruitment of underrepresented minorities as a potential improvement area for MBA programs and created an Elevate Diversity Scholarship to provide support to underrepresented minority students accepted to the McCombs School of Business.

Ashley Fox and DeAndrea Staes at Elevate Diversity & Inclusion Conference. Photo by Lauren Gerson

“The most impactful part of the conference was seeing what started as a small vision, grow into something phenomenal. Over the course of two days, seeing our sponsors, speakers, students and community come together in a collaborative fashion for a common purpose truly sparked something great for the future of McCombs,” says DeAndrea. “I truly enjoyed seeing participants roll their sleeves up at the design thinking session hosted by IBM to address critical questions like, ‘How do you find acceptance inside a company’s culture?’ and ‘What happens financially when companies are not diverse and inclusive?’ This set the tone for an amazing conference with powerful conversations.”

Elevate Diversity & Inclusion Conference at Rowling Hall on February 8, 2019. Photo by Lauren Gerson DeLeon.

We created this event to evoke change in the McCombs community and create a sustainable, long-term solution that would provide a forum for the University of Texas and greater Austin community to engage and learn about diversity, inclusion, and culture,” says Ashley. “The feeling after the Elevate Conference ended was indescribable. After we gave our closing remarks, we knew that this conference would be a marquee event and change agent for the Texas McCombs and Austin community for years to come.”

Elevate Diversity & Inclusion Conference at Rowling Hall on February 8, 2019. Photo by Lauren Gerson DeLeon.

Elevate Diversity & Inclusion Conference at Rowling Hall on February 8, 2019. Photo by Lauren Gerson DeLeon.

“I am truly proud of what Ashley and I were able to accomplish and know that this is just the beginning,” says DeAndrea. “We are excited to see what the future holds for this dynamic, student-led, electrifying conference!”

The Keynote Speakers 

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Student Spotlight: Srija Dasika, MBA Class of 2019

Srija Dasika, Evening MBA 2019

Srija Dasika, MBA 2019

Srija Dasika, Texas McCombs MBA ’19,  recently shared her experience of becoming a new mom while working and being part of the Evening MBA program.  She is originally from  Portland, Oregon and works as an R&D engineer at Verizon. She says it was, “tough, but very rewarding and not impossible!” to become an MBA parent. Srija had her first baby in April 2017, during her first year as an MBA in Austin.

Being A Student and a Mom

Becoming a new parent is one of the best things in the world, but it’s not easy. Your whole world changes, your responsibilities and priorities shift, you are actively learning to live a new way of life with very little sleep. The moments that make parenthood wonderful are what inspire me to do well and work hard. Having strong support at home, school and work helped me a lot. My MBA cohort is very close and that was a huge motivation for me to work hard and stay with my class without taking a break. My company also had a generous maternity policy that allowed me to recover and bond with my baby before going back to work. Overall, I have learned a lot, it has been a satisfying experience and I am very thankful for my support structure.” 

Juggling School and Parenthood

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Student Spotlight: Taina Schuster, Houston MBA Class of 2020

Taina Schuster,
Houston MBA Class of 2020

Our Houston Class of 2020 welcomed 84 new students this year. Our representation of women in Houston grew from 27% to 32% and we were also excited to see that 29% of these MBAs are international students from 15 different countries.

We recently chatted with Taina Schuster, MBA ’20 and President of the Houston Graduate Business Council. Taina is originally from Brasilia, Brazil and received  her BBA in Marketing at UniCEUB.  She currently works with Houston Eye Associates. 

Taina’s “Why McCombs?”

Taina always knew that she wanted have a strong impact on society. She plans to get her MBA to provide her with a broad and diverse learning experience and to be able to quickly grow her career.

“The key factors for me in choosing Texas McCombs were the strong Alumni network and the school’s commitment to a diverse classroom. I believe that diversity builds a stronger and more creative work environment, especially in the business world where there is still a lot of room for improvement. It was really important for me to find a school that had similar values and was a good cultural fit. Coming from Brazil, where I got my undergrad and where most of my network was, I knew I needed a school with a strong brand and excellent connections in order to succeed.”

Student Leadership 

The Graduate Business Council (GBC) gives student leaders the opportunity to work directly with program leadership on to oversee the development, improvement, and maintenance of a strong sense of community and pride within the MBA program. GBC serves to promote diversity and inclusivity across all MBA programs.

“As GBC’s Chief Student Body Officer, I am working as a liaison between students and administration to make sure the student body is fully represented and involved. The Graduate Business Council is one of many opportunities for leadership that McCombs offers to students. For me, it was a great way to combine my passion for diversity and inclusion and provide the connection to get to know everyone in our class better.”

McCombs Impact

Taina notes that she had to refine her time management skills in order to succeed in the program. She says her favorite experience from McCombs so far was a Business Integrity class with Professor Christopher Meakin.

During the MBA, and especially in the professional program, you will have multiple projects and managing your time efficiently is extremely important in order to succeed. The Business Integrity class approaches one of the most important subjects in business in my opinion, with discussions from ethical dilemmas to corporate social responsibility. It was amazing to see the entire class collaborating, having strong discussions about the study cases and sharing their points of view.” 

Taina’s Advice to You

“Talk to as many people as you can about the program and learn about their experiences and challenges. Definitely reach out to alumni and current students and don’t be afraid to ask questions. One common characteristic I found along the McCombs network is that everyone is always willing to chat, answers your questions or put you in contact with the right person.”


Visit Texas McCombs MBA  to find out more about all our programs, events and community, or join the #WhyMcCombs conversation on Twitter. Hook ’em!

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