Tag: Women’s Forum

My Texas MBA Women’s Forum Experience

From Julia Brannan, Texas MBA Class of 2018, on her experience at the 2015 Women’s Forum.

julia-brannanWomen interested in  the Texas Full-Time MBA Program are encouraged to attend our annual Women’s Forum, taking place Nov 18th & 19th! There’s only a few spots left, so apply today!

During the forum you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the Texas Full-Time MBA Program, interact with current students and faculty, understand the value proposition of the Texas MBA, and experience what makes Austin so special!


Here’s a look into my Women’s Forum experience:

As I sat in the audience with 80 other prospective female MBAs interested in learning more about McCombs, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how much this event would impact my decision to join the McCombs community.

Day 1 – Thursday

I join the Texas MBA Women’s Forum GroupMe and current students are messaging us, “Who runs the world? Girls!” I’m feeling excited. Now I know I have an additional bond with some of these women beyond McCombs and a passion for women in business – a love for Beyoncé. I head to the Welcome Reception and meet amazing current students including Amira Fawcett, class of 2017. She came from a sales and trading background and had just been accepted for a product management internship at Amazon. Amira is a prime example of what a woman in business is like at McCombs. She’s down to earth, hilarious, driven as ever, and is passionate about helping her female peers reach their goals.

Day 2 – Friday

I applied during the first application round so I head to my scheduled interview in the morning. My interview is with Eric Franco, class of 2016, who’s heading to a job at an energy company post-graduation. Eric shared stories about taking classes in UT Austin’s other graduate schools, including top programs in law, public policy and engineering (the list goes on!). He loved that McCombs offers a tight-knit community along with access to endless resources throughout UT. Post-interview I grab lunch with girls attending the forum and later we head to happy hour with current students and explore Austin.

Day 3 – Saturday (main part of the Forum!)

We settle in and are greeted by Austin’s beloved breakfast tacos and the Assistant Dean of the Texas Full-Time MBA Program, Tina Mabley. Tina, a McCombs Alum, shares what makes her love this program – the people. She explains how every year the students, faculty, and administration continue to build the program for the better. For instance, Silva Gentchev, class of 2017, had just launched the Social Impact Internship Fund (SIIF). SIIF is a student-run initiative for first-year MBAs geared to help fund their classmates’ social impact internships with organizations that otherwise would not be able to afford MBA salaries (spanning non-profits to the public sector to social enterprises). The rest of the day moves at a quick pace and I’m viciously scribbling down things that inspire me left and right. To share a few:

  • During the Student Life Panel I meet Tenaj Ferguson, Class of 2017, who won the Texas Venture Labs Scholarship worth $10,000 and in-state tuition after pitching her own-startup in the competition. Tenaj is using an incubator in Austin to help grow her business, Lady Epicure Gourmet – a retail and food service natural food brand and manufacturer of commercial food tech equipment. Using McCombs’ strength in strategic marketing, she landed an internship at the Campbell Soup Company to build upon her brand management skills.
  • Ty Henderson, a favorite McCombs professor, leads us through the Classroom Experience, providing a taste of what his Analysis of Markets class would be like. It’s incredibly engaging, partially case-based, and rooted in data analytics.
  • I meet Nikki Bruce, Class of 2015, in the Beyond the MBA – Alumni Panel. Nikki used McCombs’ MBA+ Leadership Program to pursue a micro-consulting project with Boston Consulting Group. This experience validated her desire to pursue consulting and she now works full-time at Deloitte Consulting.
  • Associate Director of Career Management, Ramona Arora, shares during the Career Management discussion how students have access to career counselors and communication coaches who help to advise a student’s career search, assist with resumes, and provide feedback on interview behaviors. Additionally, I learn we’ll have access to the largest alumni network in the country – alums who are more than willing to take our calls (I’ve experienced it firsthand now, they really are)!

Attending the 2015 Women’s Forum was far and away the most rewarding experience I had throughout the MBA application process. Two main things really stand out to me looking back; first, the forum gave me that intangible validation that McCombs was the right fit for me. Austin, and to a larger extent, McCombs, were environments that I knew I wanted to call home. Second, it facilitated an-ongoing conversation that I personally feel strongly about – women’s experience in the workplace and in leadership in general.

Now, in my first semester at McCombs I truly feel that the answer to “Who runs the world?” is #McCombsWomen.

texas women mean business

 

5 Ways Women MBAs CAN Have It All

When I started in the Texas Executive MBA program (EMBA) last August, I fully expected life as I knew it to end. I scheduled a couple of relaxing trips — a beach vacation over Fourth of July, and a fly fishing adventure with my husband on the Salmon River in Idaho. I got my hair cut. I read Vogue and took a few spa days. I scaled back my involvement in non-priority projects. By the time August rolled around and I buttoned up my business suit for the first seminar, I was ready to kiss my “old,” pre-MBA life goodbye.

A few weeks ago, I participated in a panel at the annual Texas MBA Women’s Forum, speaking to prospective Evening and Executive applicants. I remembered how I felt just a year before as an audience member watching a similar panel and wondering whether I was ready to make the commitment to the program. Now that I’m well into my second semester as an EMBA, life has gotten complicated, but it’s not impossible, and I’m certainly still able to enjoy my “old” life. I’m here to inform women considering the program that you can have it all. Here’s how:

1) Your support network goes far beyond you.

Friends opening creditsWhether you’re married, single, or “it’s complicated,” you’ll quickly find that you need more than just the power of you to get through this program. For those who have significant others, it’s imperative that he or she be on board with your decision — they will be your sounding board and your soft place to land. But don’t think you have to have someone waiting for you with dinner on the stove to tackle an MBA. This program expands your network — intentionally so — both professionally and personally. Between your study group, your classmates at large, and your professors, you begin to develop a network that helps you answer some of the most challenging questions in your life, whether they are related to career advice, personal development, or schoolwork. Additionally, the women in the class ahead of me have done a great job at building relationships with the women in my class. I think I can safely speak for the ladies of the Class of 2016 when I say that we’re all looking forward to paying it forward to incoming female students next year.

2) You become a decision-making rockstar.

How often do you hum and haw over whether to attend a meeting or bring an issue to your boss? How many times a day do you click on the same email trying to decide how to respond? Dr. John Burrows, the EMBA program director, and one of your first-semester professors, likes to say “Begin with the end in mind.” While at first this concept can be difficult to grasp, once you get the hang of it, you start applying it to everything in your life. When a decision needs to be made, you are able to arrive at an effective, prompt, and well-supported conclusion. Not only that, but you begin to collect tools and strategies that help you dive into and analyze these challenging situations with confidence. Being in this program so quickly cuts through the chaff in your life, that you just might be surprised by how much extra time it frees up (which, of course, leaves more time for studying!).

3) You learn how to prioritize the right things, not all the things.

One of the most important parts of the program that you won’t find in any formal curriculum is that it teaches you to recognize when and how to take care of your personal life. This isn’t just something that MBAs need to learn — any executive looking to go the distance must get a handle on this lesson at some point.

Need to get some exercise? There’s no shortage of running groups or cycling teams to join (or start your own!). If you have kids, be there for them first. Your group will support you (and demand cute photos of your kids as repayment!). A few of us in the Class of 2016 have made a point to have “Manicure Mondays” every few months when we get our nails done together. It’s a simple thing but it allows us to debate cases or talk through tough quantitative concepts while doing something special and relaxing for ourselves. During my first semester, my husband and I bought a house and decided to renovate our kitchen ourselves. Did I often think I needed to be reading case studies while I knocked dry wall down off the walls? Absolutely. Did I finish reading those cases by the time class rolled around? Of course. Life has a way of expanding and contracting to your priorities. It’s up to you to ensure you put the right priorities in your life.

4) You learn how to maximize your unique strengths.

Leslie Knope quoteChanneling your strengths as a leader goes far beyond focusing on just doing what you’re good at. In fact, this program challenges you to step outside of your comfort zone and to wrestle with questions you might previously have avoided. This is where you learn how to channel your natural talents, as you start to realize — with the guidance of great professors and supportive classmates — that there are unique aspects about you that make you a unique leader. These are the stories you come into the program with: a former career as a professional athlete, or a struggle to overcome a fear of public speaking. These bits and pieces of your history are often overlooked — and sometimes even hidden from ourselves and others. But the EMBA program encourages you to really explore what parts of those stories you can leverage to make the world a better place. How does this ultimately help you have it all? You have time to reflect on and ensure that an important part of yourself is not left behind as you grow and change as a leader.

5) You can find self-fulfillment.

Remember being forced to run the mile in grade school while being timed and yelled at by some domineering gym coach? I bet you couldn’t wait to stop running. Now think about what it felt like the time you chose to train for and complete a long distance race, whether it was a 5K or an Ironman. Sure, it was daunting going into it, but the process was just as satisfying as crossing the finish line. Pursue an MBA if you are looking for fulfillment at both a personal and professional level. It requires too much time, effort, and sacrifice if you don’t plan on finding personal satisfaction and happiness in not only the outcomes, but also the inputs. In her controversial essay “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” Anne-Marie Slaughter writes about one challenge for women attempting the balancing act:

Seeking out a more balanced life is not a women’s issue; balance would be better for us all. Bronnie Ware, an Australian blogger who worked for years in palliative care and is the author of the 2011 book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, writes that the regret she heard most often was “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

Make sure an MBA isn’t just another item on the list of what others expect from you. If you’re true to yourself in this program, you’ll do just fine.

Working Professional & Executive 2015 Women’s Forum Recap

Texas MBA Women's Forum - Welcome sign and table

The Texas MBA recently held its annual Women’s Forums for all Working Professional and Executive MBA Programs in Dallas, Houston, and Austin! Faculty, staff, alumni, and current students from the Texas MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas MBA at Houston, Texas Evening MBA, and Texas Executive MBA programs hosted around 60 prospective women MBAs for a day of information sessions and networking receptions.

Women attendees at information session - 2015 women's forum

Texas MBA at Houston Women’s Forum, Career Presentation

These events give prospective women MBAs the opportunity to discover all aspects of the Texas MBA program and how they can unlock their potential and develop as business leaders. Women’s Forum attendees had the opportunity to hear an overview of the Texas MBA program and connect with women in the program to learn about their experiences.

A highlight of the event was a talk from premier professional development coaches, Valerie Savage.
Valerie is a seasoned executive with 30 years of financial, strategic, operational and investor relations experience as an executive and consultant for private and public companies. Her session at the Women’s Forum demonstrated how to identify and articulate unique credentials to help position professionals for a successful career.

Choosing to pursue an MBA presents unique challenges for women, especially working professionals. The Women’s Forums provided realistic insight into the program, life as an MBA, and opportunities for candid discussion with former and current students.

If you were not able to attend the Women’s Forum this year, check out some of the other events happening on campus. We hope to see you soon!

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