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Cornell University claims the trophy for the 2018 T.E.A.M. award  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jul 2018, 14:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Cornell University claims the trophy for the 2018 T.E.A.M. award
Every year, The Consortium recognizes students who have exemplified a commitment to the organization through time, talent and treasure. Although everyone contributes in one way or another, there are times when collective efforts far exceed expectations. This year was no different. Cornell University SC Johnson Graduate School of Management claimed the honor and took home the trophy for the T.E.A.M. award – “together, everyone achieves more.”

Johnson students’ accomplishments that led to the recognition included:

  • Supporting and standing in solidarity with the University of Virginia students after the 2017 Charlottesville, VA protests and counter-protests.
  • Planning and executing a Consortium Awareness Day.
  • Participating in the Southside Community Center Open House.
  • Obtaining leadership positions in the Hispanic American Business Leaders Association, Black Graduate Business Association and Sustainable Global Enterprise Club.
Success is never an accident. It is the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution. Congratulations Cornell University!

The post Cornell University claims the trophy for the 2018 T.E.A.M. award appeared first on The Consortium.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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New post 27 Jul 2018, 13:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog:
In today’s society, mental and physical health takes priority in the wellness chain, but how does your financial health fit into the rank order? If you’re like many others in the country, it falls farther down the list. And at the root of the problem is debt. According to the Federal Reserve, the average American household carries $137,063 in debt. Yet the U.S. Census Bureau reports that the median household income as $59,039 in 2016 suggesting that many Americans are living beyond their means. Consequently, more Americans are using credit cards to cover basic needs like food and clothing. You may ask how does one reverse the trend or avoid it altogether?

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Enter Castleigh Johnson, NYU Stern Consortium alumnus, and CEO and Co-Founder of Trifigo, a platform created and tailored to help consumers manage their credit and improve their financial decision making. In his financial career, Johnson held many senior roles with Goldman Sachs, AIG, EY and BMO. He was also a bank examiner at the Federal Reserve Bank of NY during the financial crisis that lead to his initial interest in developing a unique consumer credit resource.

Johnson offers the following information to help guide you in the right direction to good financial health:

  • Your credit score is the minimum cut off many firms use to identify consumers they provide money or services to.
  • It is your responsibility to review each of your credit reports and notify each credit bureau if there are errors.
  • Minimize requests for credit from multiple companies in a short timeframe. It could appear that you are desperate for funds.
  • Credit utilization is calculated off your revolving accounts (like credit cards) so keep your balances under 25%.
  • If there are 1 or 2 missed payments on your report that you have paid, you can request to have them removed.
With patience and proactive steps, anyone can improve their financial stability. Want to learn more? Trifigo is a free tool that can assist you with keeping your credit-worthiness front of mind by making better financial decisions, thus improving your credit score. The Trifigo app is available for both IOS and Android users. View this YouTube video for instructions on how to setup an account.

The post appeared first on The Consortium.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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New post 27 Jul 2018, 13:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog:
I am a CGSM Alumna from IU Kelley School of Business, Class of 2010. Currently, I live in the Dallas, Texas area. The post B-School journey has taken some interesting turns for me. I have spent the bulk of the time working for CPG manufacturers as a Brand Marketing Manager.

In the nearly 8 years since I graduated, I have learned a lot about navigating my career, almost all through mistakes. I realized, as an African American and a Woman, I was not alone in my struggle to actualize my definition of success in Corporate America.

In 2017, I launched The Trill MBA Show, a live internet radio show, where I authentically and vulnerably talk about the struggles of succeeding in Corporate America as a person of color. I give the step by step knowledge that people don’t give you. I interview people who have made it through Corporate trials and tribulations and we talk about the real parts of the journey, the stuff people are afraid to talk about, such as…you didn’t get a full-time offer, now what do you do?

Currently, I’m in production on Season 2 of the Trill MBA Show. As the Trillest MBA you will ever know, my #1 Goal is to help you survive and thrive in Corporate America by getting you the real life information on how you can thrive in Corporate America. I will share people’s real life stories and get to the heart of what they got right, what they got wrong and what they learned to get to the level of success they are at now.

New episodes of the Trill MBA show are available everywhere you listen to your favorite podcast. Check out episodes from Season 1 at trillmba.com.

Submitted by Felicia Enuha

The post appeared first on The Consortium.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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Chicago MAPs was a success  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jul 2018, 14:00
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Chicago MAPs was a success
https://cgsm.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Chicago-MAPS-2018-300x225.jpg
Prospective students listen intently to the presentation.

It’s recruiting season! Our staff just returned from our first MAPs event on July 24, 2018 in Chicago to educate and engage prospective students about the application process. There was a great turnout.

https://cgsm.org/wp-content/uploads/201 ... 00x225.jpg
Pictured: Karen Green, CGSM staff person and Chicago area alumni.

Additionally, we were extremely pleased to have several alumni participate. Not only were they there to support, they also had a great time catching up with one another. Meet us in our next location, New York City! Click here to register.

The post Chicago MAPs was a success appeared first on The Consortium.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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Beauty made simple  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jul 2018, 16:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Beauty made simple
What challenges have you overcome starting and maintaining your own business?

At the beginning the biggest challenge in starting the business was balancing it with other things such as school and now work. As a result, we are very intentional in how we schedule in time to get things for the business done and have also found ways to either simplify processes or outsource different parts of the business. For instance, we started working with Shipbob- they hold our inventory and ship out orders whenever they come through the system. We are in the process of still looking for manufacturers to work with as we want the business to grow and need to ensure we can meet our customers’ demand. Another challenge is definitely finding investors who are interested in a) the beauty industry b) supporting a social impact business c) a small business that is still in its infancy.

What makes your products different from others in the market?

The nekawa butter is based on a family recipe of mine that has been passed down to me from the women in my family in Senegal. We are unique in that our product is handmade, uses all organic and unrefined products to maintain the high quality of the product, we donate proceeds from sales to non-profits in Senegal that empower and educate young girls and women, and our product is multi-use for skin and hair.

What are your long-term goals for Nek.awa Beauty?

Long-term, we hope to continue to focus on creating all natural products with a focus on skin care. We ultimately want to create a line of skin care products that help our customers realize their natural beauty with simple to use products that are not time consuming.

What did you learn in your business classes that helped you prepare for Nek.awa Beauty?

We learned so much from Kelley! Our business actually came from our class Venture Planning, in which I pitched the idea to a few classmates and we formed a team. From there we created a business plan that included everything from financial projections, market research, and marketing strategies. Chelsea and I then took this and continued to do market research by sending over 100 samples and surveys to individuals in our target group. We then took this information and made a few changes before we officially launched in March. Many of the ways that we run the business today is a result of things we learned from either finance, marketing, operations, or our strategy classes. They provided us with solid cases and experiential learning opportunities that have allowed us to put things we learned to practice.

What are you most proud of regarding Nek.awa Beauty?

We are most proud of coming in 1st place at the Clapp Business Idea Competition in April. This showed us that we not only have a strong business plan and idea, but also know how to articulate it to a range of audiences.

What’s next for you and Nek.awa Beauty?

We hope to introduce a new product by the end of this year and are really excited for our customers to use it! We will be working with a small marketing boutique based out of LA in the upcoming month to help increase our social media engagement, reach new customers, and begin partnerships with influencers.

Click here to visit Nek.awa Beauty.

The post Beauty made simple appeared first on The Consortium.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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Competitive Advantage Volunteer Form  [#permalink]

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New post 15 Aug 2018, 09:00
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Competitive Advantage Volunteer Form
Thank you for agreeing to volunteer during The Competitive Advantage Inaugural Program & Career Forum, September 7-9, 2018! Your consideration and selection of more than one assignment is greatly appreciated. If you have any questions, please contact Adrienne Thomas at thomasa@cgsm.org.

  • Name*

    Mr.Mrs.MissMs.Dr.Prof.Rev.

    Prefix

    First

    Last

  • Email*

  • Phone*
    Please list your mobile number. It will only be used to provide updates, if necessary.
  • Consortium School Attended*Choose OneUniversity of California, BerkeleyUniversity of California, Los AngelesCarnegie Mellon UniversityCornell UniversityDartmouth CollegeEmory UniversityIndiana University-BloomingtonUniversity of Michigan-Ann ArborNew York UniversityThe University of North Carolina at Chapel HillRice UniversityUniversity of RochesterUniversity of Southern CaliforniaThe University of Texas at AustinUniversity of VirginiaUniversity of WashingtonWashington University in St. LouisUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonYale University
  • Graduation Year*Choose One20182017201620152014201320122011201020092008200720062005200420032002200120001999199819971996199519941993199219911990198919881987198619851984198319821981198019791978197719761975197419731972197119701969196819671966
  • Volunteer Assignments*

    • Student Check-in (Sept. 7, 2018 | 11:00-1:30)

    • Function Primer #4 - Healthcare/Non-Profit/Education (Sept. 7, 2018 | 4:00-5:15)

    • Making the Transition from College to Work (Sept. 8, 2018 | 11:15-12:00)

    • Finding the Leader Within (Sept. 8, 2018 | 1:15-2:00)

    • The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Information Session (Sept. 9, 2018 | 10:15-11:15
  • File

    Drop files here or

    Accepted file types: doc, docx, pdf.

    Please upload your brief bio and/or resume. If you encounter any issues, please contact Adrienne Thomas at thomasa@cgsm.org.

The post Competitive Advantage Volunteer Form appeared first on The Consortium.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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Hansel – Unlocking MBA Travels  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Sep 2018, 10:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Hansel – Unlocking MBA Travels
https://cgsm.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Hansel_1-e1536162788716.png
Phil Sprawls (left) and Felix Watson, Jr. (right) at the UCLA Anderson Venture Accelerator.

Phil Sprawls and Felix Watson Jr., UCLA Anderson’s Class of 2018 alumni, are founders of Hansel, a venture-backed technology startup. Hansel started with a simple idea, “What if the powerful digital mapping technology on our phones was used for social purposes rather than navigation?” Phil and Felix took this idea and ran with it, receiving grant funding from UCLA, hiring Consortium classmates, and executing on the lean startup methodology (build, test, measure, iterate). They rose to the top of UCLA’s startup scene, excelled in its on-campus accelerator programs, and were selected to present to hundreds of investors at the Anderson Venture Accelerator Spring Showcase.

Hansel’s mission is to help people get trusted recommendations and make confident decisions. Their mobile platform gives people the fastest and safest way to see where their friends have traveled and reach out for private, personalized recommendations. This platform provides a major boost to MBA communities, where classmates come from diverse backgrounds and take advantage of once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunities. Hansel brings MBAs the platform and data to tap into their network in a powerful new way.

https://cgsm.org/wp-content/uploads/201 ... 697164.jpg
Felix Watson, Jr. and Phil Sprawls were selected to present with top startups at UCLA’s Demo Day.

Phil and Felix met at OP back in 2016 and quickly realized they had a shared passion for technology and product management. That shared passion fueled them through MBA programming, where they completed courses in Entrepreneurship and Venture Initiation, Business Plan Development, and UCLA’s Business Creation Option Master’s Thesis. Their persistence allowed them to iterate through multiple products and business models, build relationships with key investors, and ultimately secure institutional financing to launch their startup after graduating.

Hansel was founded with Consortium principles at its core. Phil and Felix are happy to pay it forward and help other Consortium members achieve their startup dreams. Feel free to connect with them at phil@teamhansel.com and felix@teamhansel.com, and download Hansel from teamhansel.com!

Submitted by Phil Sprawls, Anderson ’18 alum

The post Hansel – Unlocking MBA Travels appeared first on The Consortium.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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Haas INNOV8 Case Competition  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Sep 2018, 11:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Haas INNOV8 Case Competition
https://cgsm.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/INNOV8-Case-Comp-Berkeley-Haas.png

The Berkeley Haas INNOV8 case competition brings together top MBA students from around the world to tackle real business challenges facing brand managers.  We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Clorox, this year’s title sponsor. This year’s competition will feature a case study written in partnership with the Burt’s Bees Brand team, focusing on strategic recommendations for product innovation in cosmetics.

Innovation is fueled by diverse teams with diverse backgrounds.  In the past, teams with the best ideas have been comprised of first-year and second-year MBAs, representing different work experiences and life experiences.

Team Registration started Wednesday, August 29th and remains open until Thursday, September 20th.  The virtual first round case will be distributed by Friday, September 21st and submissions will be due on Sunday, September 30th.  Finalists will be announced on Tuesday, October 2nd.

Submitted by Rafael Sanchez, Haas ’19 MBA Candidate

The post Haas INNOV8 Case Competition appeared first on The Consortium.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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Dreamforce 2018  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Sep 2018, 12:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Dreamforce 2018
https://cgsm.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Salesforce_logo-transparent.png

Have you heard of Salesforce? I’m sure you have. It’s a cloud-based CRM software company founded nearly 20 years ago with over 30,000 employees and revenue and assets totaling in the billions. Salesforce was ranked first in Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2018 and is one of our valued Consortium partners!

You have the unique opportunity to learn more about the company via its annual user conference, Dreamforce 2018, by livestreaming the CEO’s keynote on Tuesday, September 25, 2018 at 3:00 PM PDT. Also, for a limited time, complimentary “explorer” passes are available to provide access to part of the conference.

Additionally, plan to participate in our Consortium webinar (October 2018) featuring Salesforce and the great job opportunities available to alumni. More details to come.

 

The post Dreamforce 2018 appeared first on The Consortium.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors
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A Vision of Success  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Jan 2019, 14:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: A Vision of Success
Now a successful businesswoman, Monica Monte remains driven by the vision she created for herself as a child growing up in poverty.

“I always knew that getting a degree and having a career was a mandatory part of my future,” she says, “because I didn’t want to repeat the cycle of poverty that I had grown up in.”

As chief marketing officer for Real Agent Pro in Rochester, N.Y., she has actualized her dreams of building both a successful personal and professional life for herself. In between getting married and raising two daughters, Monte earned her MBA and has since accumulated years of corporate and startup experience in marketing and management. She also makes time to give back to her community by volunteering and serving on nonprofit boards.

We recently spoke with Monte, an alumna of The Consortium, about how her education and varied experience have helped her in her career and what lessons she has learned along her path to success.

What role has your background played in your career decisions and success?

 The fact that I pursued college in the first place was because of my background. I grew up very poor, I grew up in group homes and foster homes, and I knew that I wanted a better life for myself when I grew up. I knew that education was the key to changing the dynamics for my future and me.

So, from childhood, I always knew I wanted to get an education. There was no question that I was going to go to college, and I worked in a hospital as a teenager to help pay for my education.

I hated being poor. I hated being hungry. I wanted security. I wanted to be self-sufficient. I wanted to be able to take care of myself and take care of my family, so college was going to happen.

What prompted your decision to leave your long-time employer Bausch + Lomb?

I was there for 22 years. I had a great career there. It was actually the only place I worked full time outside of internships because I had so many different opportunities there; there was never any reason to leave. I just kept advancing and having a lot of unique, challenging opportunities. I was in human resources for four years and spent the rest of the time building my marketing career.

I did not leave there by choice. They got bought out by Valeant; they pretty much gutted the company here in Rochester. I left there in 2013.

Did it just happen that you found the job in real estate, or was that an area you had wanted to move into?

Actually, my son-in-law is an entrepreneur, and … he was excited about the opportunity to have a senior leader help him build his company, Real Agent Pro. So, I started on the ground floor, kitchen-table planning, and since it was in its infancy, I joined the team in both an operations and marketing capacity. I helped set up the business from the ground up.

Obviously, I’m not used to the startup environment, so that was a good learning opportunity for me.

The company has since grown. It was on Inc 5000’s List of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies — we were number 308 — and on the Rochester Chamber Top 100 as one of the area’s fastest-growing privately owned businesses; we were No. 7 for 2018.

What role did you play in helping the company take off?

My son-in-law and I are the ying and the yang. He’s an entrepreneurial salesperson. He has the go-go-go vision. He wants to do things, move forward. I am from corporate. I want to make sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed — planning, ensuring that there’s quality assurance and processes and procedures. So he has his foot on the gas pedal, and I have my foot on the brakes; together, we move the car forward.

My role was to put that kind of infrastructure in place, or at least provide the guidelines, insights and advice to do that.

How has your MBA helped you in this role?

So, I talk about this a lot because my son-in-law pulled himself up by his bootstraps instead of [through] traditional education. He didn’t get an advanced degree, but I always tell him that the fundamental business principles will be a linchpin of the success of our company. You can move forward, but if you create a business on a weak foundation, it’s going to eventually crumble.

So, those fundamental business principles, those sound principles that have built all the successful companies we know today, need to be applied to our organization. I understand that the entrepreneur gets things done. That’s [good], but if you don’t have the fundamental business principles [in place], you’re going to make a lot more mistakes than you need to. Obviously, we still make mistakes, but you want to minimize those.

The entrepreneur can self-learn, and nothing’s wrong with that — you have to continuously learn — but through the MBA, you get connected more quickly to the best insights, proven, tested insights that have made companies succeed or fail. So I’ve always been able to say, “Well, I already know companies have tried this or have tried that, or here are resources that we should leverage.”

Do you still manage your own marketing and communications business on the side? What has that experience been like?

I had to put that aside to pursue this.

I was putting my business plan in place for that and doing some marketing and communications consulting, but it got interrupted.

What I can say is … because I’ve spent five years building this startup company, when I go back to my own marketing communications company, I think I will be more successful. [With] my MBA, my corporate experience and my entrepreneurial startup activities, I will be able to run any business that I ever imagine.

My experience is 360; it is wide and deep now. I’ve learned things that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn in corporate America. There are so many resources in corporate America that are not in the startup community, which forced me to learn new things that I wouldn’t have had an opportunity to learn otherwise. Now I can apply that to anything I do in the future.

My tool belt is complete. I have the education I need. I have the corporate experience I need. I have the entrepreneurial experience. So, I feel very secure and very happy with everything that has come together for me.

I understand that you have served on the board of Hillside Children’s Center for 15 years and as chair of the board from June 2016 to June 2018. Why is it important to you to make time beyond your professional life to remain active and involved in your community?

[With] Hillside, it’s not necessarily that I was looking for board membership. It’s good to do and I would have done that, but I specifically wanted to be engaged with Hillside because I had been in a children’s home myself.

I was also elected to its board of governors, which oversees all of the boards. So, in addition to being on the Hillside Children’s Center board, I’m on the board of governors for the Hillside Family of Agencies.

Beyond Hillside, is it important to you to do nonprofit work?

Yes. I would have joined a board at some point because I like sharing my insights, my knowledge, my expertise to help support and build my community.

Even before I was on the boards, I always volunteered to speak to youth — mostly high school kids in low-socioeconomic areas — to help inspire them to see that no matter what their circumstances are, they can break out [of that] and be successful. Whatever their dream is, whatever their vision is, they can achieve it, and I’m an example of that.

The reaction from the kids is very powerful for me, to see that they feel inspired and hopeful that they can achieve whatever dreams are in their own mind, [that] “if she can do it, I can do it.”

Everybody has a different mantra when sharing with the kids; mine was about education. I told them the only reason — besides my own drive — that I’ve been able to be successful is because I stuck with education. I made sure that I graduated with honors from high school and college and then went on to graduate school.

The key to success is education, and I told them, no matter what’s happening to them, don’t drop out of school; find a way to get it done.

What role did The Consortium play in your pursuit of an advanced degree and in your career?

The Consortium made my desire to get an advanced degree possible. It made it easy for me to focus on just making sure I was doing the work I needed to do to get the education, to get the degree, without having to have the financial burden, without having to juggle a job. And I had two kids when I went to graduate school. So, The Consortium’s support made it possible for me to pursue the degree in an expedient way. I was able to go full time and get it done.

I went straight from undergraduate to graduate school because I had seen so many people who worked and then weren’t able to go back, especially those who had kids. I know it is good to work and then get an MBA, but it doesn’t work out like that for everyone. But that’s not a reason not to pursue it; I am proof of that. Doing it the way you need to do it, as long as you’re getting it done, is the best path, because if I had said, “Well I’ll just wait, I’ll see if I can work first,” I don’t know if I would have been able to get back into that mode.

What do you believe is the driving force behind your success thus far?

From my childhood, I have always been good at vision-casting for myself. I’ve always had a vision of how I wanted to live my life, how I wanted to spend my time on this Earth. I focus on how our time here is limited, and so how do I want to spend that time? I just have a vision of what I want to do, and then I do anything I can to achieve that goal.

From childhood, I knew that I wanted to have security and an education, and that’s what I got. Once I had my education, I knew that I wanted to have a successful career, so that’s what I planned for. Obviously, I have personal vision-casting as well, as far as being a mother and wife, but from a business perspective, I always had that vision.

What are your hopes and goals for your future?

I want to continue leveraging all the experiences I’ve had. I want to circle back to my own marketing and communications vision. At this point in my life, I feel like I can focus on the things that I have fun doing. Obviously every job has things that you love and things that you hate, but at this point in my life, I can carve out a niche and focus only on the things that I love doing.

Do you have any recommendations for young, aspiring business people — students, corporate leaders and entrepreneurs?

For entrepreneurs, I say, to match your vision and drive, make sure you also have the underlying principles that traditional businesses use to build a strong foundation, which means you may need partners, people who have skills that you don’t have.

For people pursuing advanced degrees, make sure you stick with it no matter what obstacles come up.

Years ago, a friend of mine, who’s now the president of Complemar, … was trying to decide if he should get his MBA. He had a new baby, and he said, “Well, it takes two years, and I have a heavy workload, so I don’t know — two years is a long time.” And I said, “Yes, two years is a long time, but the only thing you know for sure is that the two years is going to go by no matter what you do. So, the only decision you have to make is whether, at the end of that two years, you want to have an MBA or not. That’s the only decision that’s in your control.” He said that made the decision for him. He ended up getting his MBA, and now he’s the president of his company.

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Member Schools give back for #GivingTuesday  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Feb 2019, 14:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Member Schools give back for #GivingTuesday
Since its creation in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become more than an international day of giving. To date, people all over the world have donated more than $1 billion on #GivingTuesday. It also is a movement that inspires people to donate their time and support causes with events throughout the year.

For the past three years, The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management has reached out to our member schools—now at 20 with the recent addition of The Michael G. Foster School of Business at the University of Washington—to participate in #GivingTuesday events with either a financial donation to The Consortium or by doing an act of kindness through volunteering at a local organization.

“We provide a list of organizations in the member schools’ cities from which they can choose and ask that they send us photos of what they did,” said Adrienne S. Thomas, manager of student and alumni relations at The Consortium.

This year, Cornell University, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, University of California, Berkeley and Washington University in St. Louis shared photos of how they participated in Giving Tuesday 2018 fundraising events. Those events included:

  • Washington University cataloged books for The Consortium’s Normandy High School book drive.
  • Cornell University raised over $600 to support local charity The Learning Web that supports the mentorship of local youth, 1/3 of which experience homelessness.
  • The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor organized their very first “CGSM Volunteer Weekend” with a total of 33 volunteers who gave up to nine hours of their time to two organizations: Growing Hope and Meals on Wheels.
  • The University of California, Berkeley Cal Alumni Association (CAA) accepted donations on behalf of the Giving Tuesday campaign on their website.
#GivingTuesday, an international day of giving, is celebrated the Tuesday following Thanksgiving in the United States and kicks off the charitable season. #GivingTuesday 2019 is Dec. 3.

Written by Tiffany Hudson

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Consortium launches undergraduate program  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Feb 2019, 15:00
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Consortium launches undergraduate program
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In September, The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management welcomed the inaugural class of Competitive Advantage: The Consortium Undergraduate Program Sept. 7-9 in Oak Brook, Illinois.

Competitive Advantage is a career and postgraduate readiness program that targets college undergraduates who are African American, Hispanic American and Native American whereupon graduation they are more employable or admittable to graduate and professional school, regardless of their academic discipline.

During the 2 ½ day leadership conference, 120 students were immersed in career exploration and attended a variety of workshops, such as identifying and developing relationships with academic allies, internship selection and maximization, and making the transition from college to work.

Participating schools included Georgetown University, Indiana University-Bloomington, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Rice University, University of Rochester, University of Southern California, The University of Texas at Austin, University of Virginia, Washington University in St. Louis, and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“I had a such a rewarding experience being part of the inaugural class,” said Kathleen Ortiz-Tenesaca, a student at the University of Michigan. “I was able to connect with not only admired companies, but with such innovative and creative peers from across the country.”

Lead corporate sponsors of the 2018 Competitive Advantage conference were 3M and General Mills. Other sponsors included Discover Financial Services, Exxon Mobil, Colgate-Palmolive Company and The Dow Chemical Company, to name a few.

Next year’s conference will take place Sept. 6-8, 2019. The location has yet to be determined. Mentorship opportunities for consortium alumni also will be available. Stay up-to-date on those opportunities and more at gainyouradvantage.org.

Written by Tiffany Hudson

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Experienced Hires Initiative yields 15 alumni hires  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Feb 2019, 15:00
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Experienced Hires Initiative yields 15 alumni hires
To date, The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management’s Experienced Hires initiative has yielded 15 alumni hires for various companies in positions such as executive advisor, communications development analyst, director of distribution performance and finance manager, to name a few.

Through this program, The Consortium initiate intake calls, post job openings on our website, push out open positions via our alumni channel, manage initial applicant flow, do initial candidate outreach, vet candidates and process candidate slate.

With more than 9,000 alumni, adding more alumni networking opportunities has become a top priority.

“Corporate partners were taking advantage of first and second year talent, but hadn’t tapped into the vastness and richness of our alumni network,” said Consortium Assistant Vice President of Talent Engagement, Brian Wesley.

Since 2017, we have held eight alumni networking events. In 2018, we have successfully held networking events with Microsoft, a non-sponsor that hired 27 students in 2017, in Seattle; with Google in New York City, and at the 2018 Orientation Program in Orlando.

Written by Tiffany Hudson

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Making Lifelong, Love Connections  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Feb 2019, 12:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Making Lifelong, Love Connections
Beyond the powerful career development provided by The Consortium’s annual conference, the event has been known to bring new couples together.

This was the case for Joe and Erayna Sargent, who met at the 2008 OP in Dallas, Texas. They both attended Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in Bloomington, where they graduated in the class of 2010.

The Sargents now live in Kansas City, Mo., where Erayna serves as senior marketing manager with QuickBooks at Intuit and Joe is director of brand marketing for the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football team.

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‘Slaying’ it in the Beauty Business  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Feb 2019, 11:00
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: ‘Slaying’ it in the Beauty Business
In a little over a year, Kelly Bonilla and Jade Palomino went from being co-workers, to best friends, to business partners.

Working together at Endeavor Miami, a nonprofit economic development organization, Bonilla and Palomino helped entrepreneurs by providing them with the resources and tools to help scale their businesses. Now, with the knowledge gained at Endeavor, they are in the midst of building their own startup, Slay, and are pursuing the foundational knowledge that will help them succeed.

Having left their full-time jobs in January of 2018, Bonilla and Palomino — both fellows of The Consortium — are now in their third quarter at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business in Charlottesville, where they are pursuing an MBA.

In between studying and business planning, they took some time to speak with us about their venture, their decision to pursue an MBA and the importance of diversity and inclusion. 

How did you come up with the idea for Slay?

Jade: While we were at Endeavor, we used to treat ourselves to weekly manicures. Of course, having nonprofit salaries, it was very costly to get these regular beauty services done, and we also found the process of booking these services extremely inefficient because it always involved having to pick up the phone. When we finally got someone on the line, we always had to worry about payment; some places only accept cash versus card, for instance. We thought it was insane that in every other aspect of our lives, we can use our phones — whether it be to call an Uber or get our groceries through Instacart. Everything is on demand, but when it comes to the salon industry, it remains a very old-school, pen-and-paper industry. So, we decided to change that.

How would you describe what Slay is and does in just a couple sentences?

Jade: We call ourselves the most flexible and affordable beauty membership ever. We allow users to find and book appointments at nearby salons with a monthly membership while guaranteeing a 15 percent discount on every transaction made through the platform.

You had already taken the initial steps to launch your company prior to applying and being accepted to Darden, so why the decision to pursue an MBA?  

Jade: When we were working at Endeavor, we saw a lot of entrepreneurs having to step away from their businesses — from being CEOs, for example — because their companies would get to this point where they didn’t necessarily have the tools, skills or background to scale with the company. We never wanted to be in that situation. Of course, we can’t be experts in everything, but at the same time, we wanted to know what questions to ask and know what we don’t know.

Kelly: Exactly. And a huge part of why we both wanted to go to business school was to really gain those hard skills in finance, accounting, et cetera. Both Jade and I were liberal arts majors in undergrad, and that’s something that we really wanted to round out. We had developed really great business acumen and a lot of other skills through our on-the-job learning, especially at Endeavor, but we really wanted to add that to our toolkit to ensure that we could grow with our company in the future.

I understand that it was important to you to find a school that would support your entrepreneurial aspirations and your company. Why? 

Kelly: Yeah, that was definitely a consideration for both of us, and what’s great about Darden is that they make a lot of effort to support not only students who are interested in entrepreneurship but also those who come into school with ventures. So that was a big differentiator. I was considering other schools and didn’t see anything similar.

Jade: Darden actually created a program specifically because of us, because we asked for it. The school has an accelerator program over the summer; typically that is only to support current students as opposed to incoming students, but Darden made an exception for us and our classmates because they understand that it’s important to support entrepreneurs coming into school. Since then, they’ve tried to build out a new program, Darden Venture Lab, whereby students are exposed to regular mentorship, collaboration and educational opportunities like lunch-and-learns with experienced entrepreneurs. Plus, they have constantly sought our feedback to improve the program. So again, Darden has made a really concerted effort to make sure they’re listening to our needs and speaking to our demands.

As fellows of The Consortium, are there ways that you have benefited from the organization’s network and resources as an entrepreneur?

 Jade: Actually, one of our new mentors is a Consortium alum —

Kelly: Her name is Tawana Murphy Burnett. We met her here at Darden during a Diversity Week session. She’s an alum of color and works in the beauty marketing space at Facebook. We connected with her and had a really interesting discussion, especially about women of color in entrepreneurship, tech and venture. She’s also an angel investor, so she’s been really helpful and has been one of our more recent mentors who we are in touch with once or twice a month.

She’s also on the diversity board at Darden and feels very strongly about empowering students of color at Darden and beyond.

In what ways has the Darden community — faculty, staff, administrators and students — supported your venture and helped you take your product to the next level?

 Jade: We’ve been really fortunate to have amazing classmates that are really proactive and helpful. For example, someone on my learning team, JB, he’s a finance whiz. When we were putting together one of our pitch decks for a presentation in New York — a really important pitch — he actually helped us put together a lot of our financials, so that was incredibly helpful.

In addition, both Kelly and I have been regularly consulting with our marketing professors from last semester to get feedback on everything from the verbiage on our website to our recent consumer insights survey. 

Kelly: We also currently have three undergraduate students at UVA who are interning with us. They’ve been with us since August.

I know it was important to you that inclusion be a core principle of your business. Why was this important, and how have you incorporated it as a core principle?

Kelly: One of the things that really drew us to this industry, both being women of color, is that it’s one of the few industries where women actually make up the majority of owners. Over 85 percent of revenues in the beauty salon space are generated by small businesses, mom-and-pop shops, and the majority of owners are women — and an even higher percentage, compared to the national average, are immigrants and/or women of color. So it’s an industry where women of color actually own more of the businesses by a huge margin, compared to every other industry.

There’s such an opportunity for us through Slay to really help these businesses scale and grow sustainably. That’s something that we feel really passionate about: economically empowering not only these businesses but also the women of color who run them and work in them. That is something that’s really important to us and has always been at the forefront since we started writing our business plan two years ago.

Jade: We’ve also really taken into consideration diversity and inclusion in building out our app and the services offered on it.

I’m part black, and I have very particular hair. I find that a lot of times, many beauty technology companies, and beauty companies generally, don’t tend to consider the needs of women of color. So, something that we’ve been really thoughtful about is making sure, for example, that we’re onboarding salons that have stylists who are familiar with and comfortable working with African American hair, because women of color have different beauty needs than people from other backgrounds. That’s really been important in building out our network of salons.

In addition, in all of our marketing and campaign materials, we make sure we’re not just showing women of different colors, but of different sizes as well. Again, just making sure that we’re lifting women up, as opposed to having a very limited standard of beauty that’s been prevalent in the beauty industry.

Kelly: One more thing of note is that, as we build out our team and as we’ve had numerous interns over the past year and a half, we’ve been really conscious of who is part of our team and how that reflects not only our customer base but also our values. Making sure that we also have a diverse team is really important to us because we know how that enriches a company and enhances every part of a business.

How did you come up with the name Slay?

Jade: That’s a good question. We are big fans of Beyoncé —

Kelly: We are big fans of Beyoncé. But it was something that we toyed around with; we threw around name ideas for a while and couldn’t really find one that stuck, and I feel like we just — what did happen, actually?

Jade: We were playing with different names, but what resonated with us when we chose Slay is that it really speaks to our target consumer, that young millennial woman. They kind of all know what “slay” means; it connotes this idea of not just feeling fierce but also feeling confident and looking your best, all of those things.

Beyoncé has a couple of songs that reference “slaying.” It’s used colloquially, especially among millennials, as this term for empowerment, especially female empowerment. So, we thought that that name really encapsulated what we wanted our brand to embody.

Kelly: Exactly. We see it as an empowering female term. If I’m slaying, I’m crushing it — whether that’s in the classroom, at work, at home, in whatever way that might be — and really feeling fiercely me and feeling empowered in my own skin.

What are next steps for Slay?

Kelly: We’re in the final stages of completing our native app, which is a process that usually costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. We have actually completed it on a shoestring budget without taking on any outside capital, which is really great.

Once our app is ready this spring, we hope to launch it here in Charlottesville. We launched our beta in Miami last April. So, we had a pilot, learned a lot from it and tested a lot of our assumptions. It was a really small pilot with about 50 people so that we could learn the ins and outs of the industry and figure out what our product really needed to look like before we invested a lot of time and money into it. Now we’re at the stage where we are gearing up to launch in Charlottesville, which is really exciting. And we’re hoping to raise some money in the coming months to accelerate our growth.

I guess the plan is to eventually move beyond Charlottesville? 

Kelly: Yes, of course. The plan is always to run the world. In an ideal world, [we’ll be] expanding to cities like D.C., Boston, L.A., et cetera.

The post ‘Slaying’ it in the Beauty Business appeared first on The Consortium.
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The Power of The Consortium Network  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Feb 2019, 13:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: The Power of The Consortium Network
For people hoping to pursue an MBA, The Consortium is more than a funding source. Members also gain access to a supportive network of professionals all equally committed to helping one another succeed.

“[It can often be] very hard … to get in the door and make those deeper connections that are necessary to get the perks of a phone call on your behalf or an email with your resume attached,” says Felicia Enuha, a Consortium alumna of the University of Indiana Kelley School of Business. But The Consortium, she adds, helps place all candidates on equal footing.

With a long list of member schools, corporate partners, alumni and current fellows, The Consortium is an invaluable resource for professionals in the corporate, nonprofit and entrepreneurial business sectors.

A Supportive Family

Enuha, who graduated with her MBA in 2010, is now executive producer and host of the Trill MBA Show, a podcast focused on helping black women survive and thrive in corporate America. Many of her guests on the show, which is now in its third season, are either alumni of The Consortium or were introduced to her by other alums.

“I still lean very heavily on my Consortium network,” says Enuha, who is currently developing another podcast with fellow Consortium alum Tiffany Samuels as well as an online retail business.

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Felicia Enuha

“I have as many connections with my Indiana Consortium classmates as I do with my classmates at other Consortium schools,” Enuha says. She attributes her large network to taking advantage of events such as The Consortium’s annual conference, the OP.

“I always stress this with everybody I talk to: OP is the time to really solidify your classmate network,” says Enuha. “For example, I am getting on a plane and going to visit my Consortium classmate from another school who’s going to mentor me and help me with my new business — and is happy to help and calls me ‘fam.’”

This idea of The Consortium network being a large family is one that Enuha stands behind. She says she’s been through a lot with her classmates and peers.

“You start building these relationships, and by the time you graduate, you have seen these people so often, you have talked to them, you have bounced ideas off them and you have cried with them,” says Enuha. “And everybody is the same Consortium ‘fam’ — because it is a family.”

Orlando Evans is a Consortium alumnus who recently left his corporate job to become a pastor; he is also the owner of BowTie Photos, LLC. Evans, like Enuha, believes very strongly in the power of The Consortium’s network.

“It’s about relationships. Relationships extend to different industries, cities, lines of business and community organizations,” he says. “Being a resource to someone else and leveraging the resources of others provides a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

Job Opportunities

In 2001, Evans was a second-year MBA student at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. He had just completed an internship in private wealth management at Goldman Sachs and was working toward securing a job at a New York financial services firm. But, after 9/11, that all changed.

“I went from being heavily recruited to graduating without a job,” he says. “I searched, I tried, but it was difficult to find a reliable lead.”

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Orlando Evans

By happenstance, he called his friend and fellow Consortium alum Tabeier Shine Hamilton who was attending The Consortium conference in San Francisco. “She said, ‘You need to be here because employers are hiring.’” Evans recalls. “I literally hung up the phone, called Northwest Airlines, cashed in all my frequent flier points and was there six or seven hours later.”

Through OP, Evans ended up landing his first job at Bank of America, where he spent nine years of his career before transitioning to SunTrust Bank.

Like Evans, Enuha also secured her first job via OP, where she made connections at Johnson & Johnson, later making the jump to Kellogg. But when her mother got sick in 2015, Enuha decided it was time to move home to Dallas to be closer to her. With her Consortium connections, finding a job was painless, and within several months, she was back in Dallas working for Frito-Lay.

“This network is so powerful. If you need a job, you’re going to get a job,” Enuha says. “I’ve never had to worry about how I’m going to take care of myself, and a lot of that comes from the fact that I know I can just plug right in and say, ‘Hey, you guys, I need help finding my next role,’ and people are going to rise to the occasion far and above and beyond my dreams.”

A Commitment to Inclusion

With a mission to enhance diversity and inclusion in global business education and leadership, The Consortium attracts corporate partners that are committed to that same goal. This partnership benefits not only the companies but also Consortium fellows and alumni.

“Supporters of The Consortium value diversity,” says Evans. “There’s a benefit to employers, who gain access to diverse talent, as well as a benefit to candidates, who gain access to powerful companies with great opportunities.”

It also helps to have Consortium connections within those corporations who are willing to vouch for you. While working in corporate America, Evans says he made a point to seek out Consortium candidates for positions.

“I would promote them to our diversity and inclusion teams and say ‘Have you considered this person, … because they are talented?’” Evans says. “I would do what I could to put the right people in front of the right opportunities for consideration.”

Giving Back

This focus on helping others succeed is where the power of The Consortium’s network lies. And both Evans and Enuha say they make a point to give back to others in the same way that their Consortium peers have helped them.

“I was always one of those people who thought of networking as not necessarily what I can get from people but what I can give to people,” Evans says. Beyond recommending Consortium alumni for jobs, he has offered guidance to and directed prospective MBA candidates to The Consortium.

For Enuha, helping her Consortium peers has meant providing direct mentorship to current MBA students and general advice via her podcast as well as sharing tips on jobs with those seeking new opportunities.

“We’re always focused on helping each other get to our next best opportunity,” she says.

Enuha also makes a point to give back to The Consortium itself, giving of her time, money and energy to the organization that has done so much for her, and she encourages others to do the same.

“Don’t forget where you came from,” Enuha says. “Come back, and if you haven’t engaged in awhile, re-engage. Don’t just come to OP when you need a job, come volunteer.”

The supportive network that comes from being a Consortium fellow is endless — according to Enuha, only ceasing if you disconnect. “As long as you stay engaged in this network,” she says, “this network will engage you.”

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Defining Success: How One Couple Is Blazing Their Own Path  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Mar 2019, 09:01
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Defining Success: How One Couple Is Blazing Their Own Path
With the drive to achieve their own definitions of success, husband-and-wife team Joe and Erayna Sargent have helped propel each other along the way.

As fellows of The Consortium, the two first met at the organization’s annual conference in Dallas, Texas, in 2008 and graduated from Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in Bloomington (IU) in the class of 2010. While they both went on to lead successful careers in traditional marketing — working for large companies across the country including Nestlé, MillerCoors, Beam Suntory and others — Joe and Erayna are now pursuing their respective passions: sport management and entrepreneurship.

The couple now lives in Kansas City, Mo., where Erayna is senior marketing manager at Intuit on QuickBooks but is also in the process of launching a wellness brand. Joe, on the other hand, is doing what he loves as director of brand marketing for the Kansas City Chiefs football team.

The Sargents recently spoke with us about their professional paths, the journey into entrepreneurship, what The Consortium means to them and their experience being married and working in the same industry.

At what point in your careers did you decide to pursue an MBA, and what led you to this decision?

Erayna: I was about two and a half years out of undergrad and in a rotational marketing program in the business-to-business (B2B) space, working for an office furniture manufacturer. I was at a point where I needed to decide what was next just by the nature of the program I was in. As I started to learn more about different areas of marketing and B2B versus business-to-consumer (B2C), I started to consider pursuing my MBA.

Both of us were some of the younger individuals in our program. I went in at 25, and Joe was 24. So, we were earlier in our careers. For me, it was really a vision of where do I want to go and what do I need to do to get there that prompted me to go back for my MBA.

Joe: I actually left undergrad and continued on to get a master’s in sport management. In the process of going through that, I was, similarly, trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to do. So, in my second year in the sport management program, I had come to the decision that I wanted to be in sports business and sports marketing. I kind of plotted out the career that I was going for, which was ultimately to be the president of a sports team, and I had to decide how best to get there.

I felt like getting an MBA was an important step, so I decided to stay in school. I knew where I ultimately wanted to go, and I knew that business school was going to be a part of that path, so I decided I’d rather start there, get all the academic credentials and then go into brand management and ultimately transition over into sports. So, that is the path I am on.

How has earning your MBA helped you get where you are today? Are you where you thought and hoped you would be when you graduated from Kelley?

Erayna: I think my MBA was extremely important in helping me get where I am. There are some roles and companies you can’t get to unless you have an MBA. I fully recognized that, and I knew I wanted to get into consumer-packaged goods (CPG), so in order to do that, I needed my MBA.

Fast-forwarding to today, I’m no longer in CPG, I’m in tech. But there are other things that I’m aspiring toward as well; I’m a budding entrepreneur. The MBA gave me the foundation and the confidence to say I can do whatever I want to do as long as I am open to continued learning — I just had to figure out what that was and then leverage the connections that I made throughout this journey to get there.

I am not where I thought I would be, but it’s a positive. I thought that I would be moving my way up the ladder in a big CPG company. But over the past three years, I’ve transitioned. I worked at a startup for two years, which really lit the fire of entrepreneurship inside of me; I’ve always had it, but I couldn’t understand how I could do it. I founded a nonprofit 14 years ago, but for some reason, the idea of entrepreneurship was still an elusive one. I’ve spent the past year working in tech, which really opened the door to me thinking about doing my own thing again. So I’m not where I envisioned I’d be; I’m in a much better place.

Joe: I definitely agree. I think the MBA has been vital for me in a couple ways.

I had plotted my path, and it was brand management into sports. Just like Erayna was saying, the MBA is really the clearest path into brand management, so I felt like I needed it to get where I wanted to go.

After leaving school, not having any prior work experience made it a little tough to find the right job, but I finally did. I was at Altria first and then transitioned to MillerCoors and a couple other roles. Basically, the MBA was my key in, but once I got there, I think the MBA really set me up so that I could hit the ground running and learn the right things — the lingo and how to be a brand manager.

I recently moved into the position of director of marketing for the Kansas City Chiefs, and I feel like I’m 100 percent on the path to my ultimate goal of being president of a sports team. Without the MBA, I feel like I still could have gotten here, but I would have had to start in a job that I didn’t want to do. Having my MBA helps bring the right perspective and skills that I use right now in this director of marketing role.

Erayna, tell me a little about your path into entrepreneurship.

Erayna: We’re at the beginning of this journey. Basically, one of my job experiences caused me to get to a point of significant burnout. This was a really low point that caused me to question everything about myself and my skill set. The positive of it was that being in that space caused me to re-examine what I was trying to do with myself — what was my passion, what did I enjoy, what did I not enjoy, why did I allow myself to get into this situation and how could I ensure I didn’t find myself in it again?

The past 18 months has been a big journey for me, exploring all of that, and I’ve uncovered my passion for self-care and wellness, which is getting a lot of attention right now. About six months ago, I started with an Instagram handle called “Justalittleselfish,” which encourages everybody to take moments for themselves, especially working professionals; it is focused on the idea that everyone deserves to be just a little selfish — owning that, recognizing it and being proud of it.

Now, Joe and I just launched an e-store with products and apparel that are all focused on wearing your self-love with pride. My whole mantra is “work hard, self-care harder.” I grew up in the Midwest and was raised with a strong work ethic, and that has gotten me to where I am today. But, I didn’t learn until recently how important it is to take care of yourself along that journey.

Also, I’m working on a very big idea, which is a startup in the mental health space. I am currently refining my idea and doing a lot of customer interviews. My next step is to seek funding. It’s a big hill, but I’m excited to climb it and make a positive impact on the culture.

How have you helped with these ventures, Joe?

Joe: I’m taking on the marketing and the launch of the e-store. Also, I’ll be doing different posts to try to look at self-care from a male point of view. She’ll be focused on creating the projects and vision; I’ll be doing more of the execution on the marketing, back-end side, on the e-store. My main role is supporting her vision and being a motivator when she gets stuck.

Both of your current positions — and many of your past ones — have been in marketing or branding. Have these always been your focus areas and areas of interest?

Erayna: I’ve always been a marketer, even straight out of undergrad. Ironically, I started undergrad as a computer engineer and then realized that it wasn’t for me, so I changed my major my sophomore year and have been on this marketing journey ever since.

Joe: I’ve always been interested in marketing, but I’ve always had my eye on transitioning into sports marketing. It is great that I’m doing that now, but … I had some difficulty landing my first job because I couldn’t convey a passion for Ivory soap, for example, because I knew that was not where I ultimately wanted to be. So, I had to kind of reframe, and I started looking for jobs in CPG where I could activate sports programs.

So, at MillerCoors, I raised my hand to lead the NASCAR program on Miller Lite, and although I didn’t start with a passion for NASCAR, I am happy I [took on this project] because I got to work closely with Brad Keselowski on the Miller Lite program — designing the car and the new suits and doing a digital marketing program. Projects like these across my career were attractive on my résumé to sports companies. I could say, “Yes, I was on Miller Lite, but I worked with NASCAR, I worked with HBCU football, I worked with NBA teams, I worked with 50 Cent and the NCAA” — all these sports and entertainment programs within quote unquote traditional CPG brand marketing. I always tried to use that as a stepping stone to get to the specific type of marketing that I wanted to be in, but marketing was always my focus.

What has your experience been like being married and working in the same industry? Is it challenging, or do you find that it helps you learn from one another and grow?

Erayna: I think it helps us learn and grow. What’s interesting is that although we both are in marketing and both of our degrees are from the same school and same program, our marketing experiences are very different. As Joe has said, he’s really focused on doing things that are more in the activation world, getting him closer to sports. My focus has been more of the traditional path, so I do a lot more work in traditional marketing management: forecasting, business planning, business strategy, brand identity, innovation pipeline. Most of my career has been in food, so I joke [about the fact] that I get the food, and Joe gets passes to the cool events.

Joe: Just like Erayna said, my core has been about activation and taking the brand essence and translating that to a live event or sports activation. So, while we have the same degree from the same school, we definitely took two different paths, which I think keeps it interesting.

Erayna: It’s a different perspective on the same type of challenges. I’ll work on projects and I could have never thought of it from Joe’s perspective. He’s able to build on my ideas and vice versa.

What do you enjoy most about your current positions and companies?

Joe: I’m about three months in with the Chiefs, and so far, I definitely enjoy it. I have a team, so I’m managing their workload and trying to position them for success.

Everything that I enjoy doing, like fantasy football or just generally talking about football, now is market research. It really has turned what I enjoy doing into my job, which is probably what I like the most.

As far as the company itself, the Chiefs are a really well-respected organization in the league; that means I work with the NFL on a lot of league initiatives. It certainly helps that the team is exciting and was a couple plays away from the Super Bowl. It’s great to now be able to say that everything I was working toward, I’m now living it.

Erayna: Intuit is a good company. I think they really do care about their employees and doing what’s right for their customers. For me, coming from CPG, I was intimidated by the concept of tech because the job titles are different, and there was this lack of understanding of how a CPG brand translates into tech. I’m the marketing lead for QuickBooks in the retail channel, so there are a lot of aspects of my job that are very similar to my past life.

While there is also lot of learning and understanding of how products are built and how tech works, it means I’m able to continue to learn and expand my knowledge. They did a great job helping me understand some of the nuances and differences, but I’m also valued for my previous experience because it’s a skill set that they don’t naturally groom in tech, so they value my CPG traditional brand background.

What role has The Consortium played in your professional life, and how do you stay involved?

Erayna: I don’t think I’d be where I am without The Consortium. I definitely would not have gone to business school when I did and would have missed out on the exposure to different career paths and possibilities.

Joe: The Consortium was so great. Even before I started school, I remember I went to LinkedIn and searched “Indiana Kelley Consortium” and reached out to people blind. So many people got back to me and gave me their time. Even before I got into school, I was getting caught up and learning the lingo. I definitely took it for granted until I got into positions and saw people who didn’t know how to be effective in a brand management role. You have to learn how to track your numbers, you have to say things a certain way and present in a relevant way. All of the things I took for granted, I learned naturally through the experience of The Consortium.

If anybody reaches out to me through The Consortium or just puts “Consortium” in the title of their message, I get back to them and try to lend them my expertise. People were so helpful when I started with The Consortium, so I’m happy to give back to anybody who reaches out.

Erayna: We participate in networking events and panels, especially through IU — they’ll have special Consortium events. We’ve gone back for Consortium events on campus and have served as recruiters for our companies. We help where we can.

We keep moving around the country, so it’s a little hard to commit to something long term, but we definitely answer emails, do informational interviews, get people prepped, do referrals for jobs and things of that nature.

The careers we have today started because of The Consortium.

The post Defining Success: How One Couple Is Blazing Their Own Path appeared first on The Consortium.
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The Business of Healthcare: Karina Cabanillas’ Strategic, Patient-Cent  [#permalink]

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FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: The Business of Healthcare: Karina Cabanillas’ Strategic, Patient-Centered Approach
For Karina Cabanillas, senior advisor on the Retail Pharmacy Product Innovation team at CVS Health, professional fulfillment has meant aligning with those who share her mission and values, including her desire to help underserved and underrepresented groups. That’s why, when she decided to transition in her career, The Consortium was a natural fit.

___

From a young age, Cabanillas knew she wanted to work in healthcare. In high school, she volunteered as an EMT for her local ambulance corps and enjoyed the experience of treating patients. This motivated her to focus on pre-medical studies with a focus on child development as an undergraduate student at Tufts University. “It really excited me for what could be next if I were to choose that career path,” Cabanillas says.

Following graduation, she took a position as a research assistant on a public health research study at Boston Children’s Hospital, where she not only worked directly with patients but on health policy and strategy as well. This aspect of her role was focused on designing the patient survey, maintaining patient engagement throughout the longitudinal study and developing materials that were bilingual and culturally sensitive.

“I quickly realized that I really excelled on the strategic side,” Cabanillas says. “While I enjoyed my days in the clinic interacting with patients, I felt that I was more excited and passionate about the work I was doing inside, thinking about the implications for health policy and what that could mean for the broader healthcare system. That got me thinking that perhaps the clinical path wasn’t the right fit for me.”

So she decided to change direction — a decision that brought her back to her hometown of New York, where she accepted a position working for global health strategy firm Rabin Martin. Cabanillas used her time there as an opportunity to learn as much about healthcare as possible, to not only expand her skill set but also help her home in on the area of healthcare she wanted to dive more deeply into.

“I had the opportunity to work with clients across various sectors of healthcare, really tackling everything from very therapeutic-focused challenges to thinking about market entry to how to build strategic cross-industry partnerships,” she says. “But in consultancies, you’re working on really defined timelines and projects, marching toward [specific] goals and deliverables, and as soon as you deliver, you’re on to the next project. … You’re not involved in the implementation. So, that’s the part that I was really missing from my experience.”

That is when she decided that business school would provide the best opportunity to pivot in her career, allowing her to actually see her strategies and ideas come to fruition.

“I had developed a valuable set of skills in my consulting experience and wanted to continue flexing them in diverse settings,” says Cabanillas. “I thought that business school was just the opportunity to do that — to explore, to collaborate, to learn from peers in a really different setting — and I knew that coming out of that, I would have a better understanding of what my strengths were, where my areas of opportunity might be and what the next chapter in my healthcare career could look like.”

Through networking, she heard about The Consortium and was impressed with the organization’s passion for and focus on supporting diverse talent — not just in getting into high-caliber MBA programs but in also helping them progress throughout their careers. “That was just an incredibly attractive offering for me and was so aligned with the work that I had been doing in public health and the trajectory I knew my career was heading,” says Cabanillas.

Having spent all her life in the Northeast, she was specifically looking for a business school outside that region. However, Cabanillas’ other criteria were the ability to take healthcare classes in addition to those in the MBA program and whether healthcare companies recruited on campus. But, ultimately, her decision to attend the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business had more to do with the school culture and the people.

“The fact that everyone was so friendly, everyone was so eager to share, to take the time out of their incredibly busy schedules to meet with me … spoke volumes,” Cabanillas says. “That really helped to differentiate the Ross experience.”

Once there, she was able to take healthcare classes in the School of Public Health that were business and strategy focused. “It was a good reminder that there are a variety of perspectives, and people are coming to these discussions from very different experiences — but, ultimately, to try to solve the same issues,” says Cabanillas.

___

Cabanillas connected with CVS Health early on in her MBA experience through The Consortium’s annual conference, the OP. From there, she interviewed and was offered an internship with the company, working as a member of the Opportunity Assessment Team within Enterprise Product Innovation.

“I knew that I wanted to focus my internship recruiting process on healthcare, and I approached my time at OP as an opportunity to explore pharma, providers and everything in between,” Cabanillas says. “CVS was one of the first companies I connected with, and what intrigued me about them from very early on was that due to the various business units within CVS, there is no box that it neatly fits into as a company. It really touches many different parts of the healthcare system, and that, for me, was incredibly attractive.”

This broad focus by CVS has allowed Cabanillas to explore and learn a lot about different aspects of the healthcare industry — and is ultimately helping her determine the direction she wants to go in her career. In her first full-time position with the company on the Retail Pharmacy Product Innovation team, she worked on the creation of a chronic disease management platform, before moving into a promotional position. In this new role now for six months, Cabanillas is part of a product team focused on improving medication adherence for patients.

“It has really challenged me to develop my management skills and think about the type of leader I want to be. How do you inspire, how do you motivate and then how do you achieve that while pushing toward business targets and growth?” says Cabanillas. “It’s always a very delicate balance, and it has been a fun journey to be on with my team.”

CVS’ recent acquisition of Aetna, she says, opens up even more opportunities and resources to ensure the company is “continuing to address challenges and pain points that different types of patient groups face across the country.”

Beyond being able to take products from ideation to implementation for all patient populations, working at CVS has allowed Cabanillas to also maintain a focus on underserved and underrepresented populations. As a Consortium corporate partner, CVS Health works to both recruit and promote diverse talent — an effort Cabanillas has been a part of.

“We have a diversity work group within Retail Product Development that is thinking about all of these things: How do we develop our pipeline? How do we develop resources for our hiring leaders to encourage them to think about diversity in hiring practices — not just for hiring but also for promotions and for developing talent within the department?” she says.

Cabanillas has also used her membership in The Consortium network to recruit MBAs to CVS — a company that she says has afforded her so many opportunities.

“CVS is a massive healthcare company that is well-positioned to positively impact our healthcare system as we know it, and there is so much that I still have yet to learn,” she says. “I will never know it all, and I love that part of this experience as it pushes me outside of my comfort zone to navigate uncertainty. I love tha,t every day, I’m learning something new, every day we’re tackling a new challenge.”

While Cabanillas is still in the process of determining which healthcare path is right for her, her mission remains focused on one thing: the patients.

“The how or which part of the healthcare process I want to focus on is what I’m trying to figure out right now, but it’s ultimately leading to the goal of ensuring that patients are empowered to live their best and healthiest possible life,” she says. “People in all communities, no matter where they come from, no matter what languages they speak, no matter what level of education they have, should be able to access products and services that will help them remain healthy.”

The post The Business of Healthcare: Karina Cabanillas’ Strategic, Patient-Centered Approach appeared first on The Consortium.
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A Voice for the Voiceless: Using an MBA as a Force for Good  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Apr 2019, 10:00
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: A Voice for the Voiceless: Using an MBA as a Force for Good
Nsombi Ricketts’ career has been anything but linear.

She went from earning a bachelor’s degree in education and social policy, to working at organizations such as The Princeton Review and Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, to earning an MBA and working as a marketing manager, then manager of diverse talent acquisition at American Express. Now the inaugural vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y. — where she leads the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion — Ricketts can say she is following her passion. A claim not many can make.

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Nsombi Ricketts

Her passion — diversity, access and inclusion — has been the one thread throughout all of her professional life. But while it took Ricketts a while to find her true calling, The Consortium alumna of Emory University’s Goizueta Business School says that all of her experiences, including earning her MBA and working in corporate America, have aided her in the long run.

With the knowledge she gained in business school and the industry, Ricketts gained a solid foundation from which to jump into higher education and, specifically, diverse student recruitment. An area in which she’s been highly successful.

In her previous role at The Graduate School at Northwestern University, she developed and led a strategy that resulted in the most diverse PhD class in the school’s history. Prior to that, at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, she helped recruit the school’s most diverse MBA class ever.

We recently spoke with Ricketts about her passion for diversity and inclusion, her decision to get an MBA and the differences and similarities between higher education and corporate America.

When you were in undergrad, majoring in education and social policy, what field or career did you want to go into?

I was one of those students who changed their interests several times in undergrad, and I kept switching majors as my interests changed. I eventually decided on the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern because it had a very practical focus. You had to do a practicum before you graduated, where you worked at an organization for an academic quarter, which allowed you to gain real work experience.

Initially, I was focusing on management consulting and then became more interested in psychological services; I had an interest in social work or being a psychologist. I did my summer practicum at the Sunnydale Housing Development in San Francisco with the Girls After School Academy and worked with low-income, high-risk pre-teen to teenage girls. The experience was illuminating, and I gained a greater understanding of the societal challenges that affect low-income and underrepresented minority populations, but it also made me think about wanting to make an impact at a larger level.

The practicum shifted my interest from being a social worker or psychologist, and working individually with people, to working on a broader level on issues of diversity, inclusion and access.

How did your passion for diversity, inclusion and access carry over into your early professional life and throughout business school?

My earlier professional roles were a mix of human resources (HR) and marketing. It was in my role at Kaplan that I had more agency to implement what would be considered a multicultural marketing strategy, or diversity strategy — trying to engage populations that typically don’t have access to test prep, finding ways to make test prep affordable for those populations and doing presentations in different languages for communities that typically wouldn’t know about test preparation. I think that’s where — professionally — diversity and inclusion started to become a focus for me; it was also solidified in business school when I was much more of a leader on campus than in undergrad, because I had to work a lot during college.

In business school, I had the Consortium fellowship, which made me think about what I was going to do individually to advance diversity and inclusion as a fellow and a Consortium liaison. Also, at the time, our school was dealing with a lot of diversity challenges and issues, so I ran for president of the Goizueta Black MBA Association. In this role, I worked with the administration on requests from students to appoint a director of diversity and community initiatives and to increase the number of diverse MBA students. As a group, we also created Goizueta’s Diverse Leadership Conference to educate the community on the benefits and advantages of diversity and inclusion.

When I started at Emory, it was ranked the No. 1 business school in leadership, so a lot of the conversation on campus was about “What legacy are you going to leave here? How are you going to lead here?” So I felt that I could have the most impact on diversity and inclusion, and I really became a leader in this work as an MBA student.

What inspired you to go to business school?

My interest in business school started when I worked at Kaplan. That’s where I first heard about The Consortium — from one of the tutors at Kaplan who worked with a lot of students to get the GMAT scores they needed to be competitive for The Consortium fellowship. I also looked at Kaplan leadership and noticed that several people had MBAs, and I began to discover the versatility of the MBA degree.

I previously had a very narrow vision of what an MBA was and what it could do. I learned at Kaplan that business education is really learning about organizations, leadership and management — so you can use it to go in any direction.

Prior to this, I was still on the psychology track and had taken the GRE to apply to PhD programs. However, an MBA program was much shorter, and I thought about the better return on investment of doing an MBA as opposed to a PhD. I also wanted a degree that was always going to be relevant. So, I took the GMAT and applied to business school through The Consortium.

What prompted your move from corporate into higher education?

During business school, I was a summer marketing intern at American Express. I was splitting my time between doing the internship and planning the first diverse leadership conference at Emory. It was almost like two full-time jobs.

I completed my internship and got the offer to return after graduation, but when I came back in a full-time marketing role, I was volunteering all the time to help with diverse talent acquisition — going to The Consortium’s Orientation Program and to National Black MBA Association and National Society of Hispanic MBAs conferences to recruit diverse candidates for American Express. Even though I was working full time in my marketing role, I was spending so much time volunteering and supporting diversity efforts that when a full-time position opened in HR in diverse talent acquisition, I asked my manager for permission to leave my role after only one year to apply. I knew this work was my passion, and it was the perfect opportunity to transition to doing diversity and inclusion work full time.

I was in that role for about a year and a half before the financial crisis of 2008 hit, and that changed everything. In my transition from American Express, I did a lot of soul searching and thought about whether I wanted to stay in diversity, go back to marketing or just do general HR.

A coach I had at the time asked me what I would do for free, and initially, I said nothing — but it wasn’t true. He reminded me about all the diversity and inclusion work I had volunteered to do in business school because I cared and wanted to make a difference. That’s when I decided that I was going to only pursue diversity and inclusion opportunities.

I applied for a lot of different higher education and nonprofit roles and finally got the position as director of diversity and inclusion at Cornell University. 

You have worked in diverse talent acquisition and recruiting in both corporate and higher education, achieving impressive results at both Cornell University and Northwestern University. How did your experience with The Consortium, earning your MBA and working in corporate America help you?

At Cornell, I came into that role with a lot of knowledge from being a former Consortium student and liaison. Johnson had just become a Consortium member school, and the relationships I made during my time at American Express were very advantageous. I was able to partner with several companies and alumni to financially support recruitment efforts, diversity weekends and women’s weekends on campus. I think my strategy, which comes from business school, has always been to assess the landscape, do competitive benchmarking and leverage best practices to figure out where the gaps are and how to fill them.

So at both Cornell and Northwestern, we eventually doubled the number of recruitment events and pipelines we participated in, which led to those historic recruitment numbers.

But, it’s about more than just showing up at events and getting some names. It was about building relationships with those candidates, being there for them when they had questions, being a resource to them throughout the application process and having authentic conversations about what it would be like to be a diverse student at those schools. So it was a change in strategy in terms of where we recruited and what pipelines we were a part of, but it was also continuing to engage and always following up — which is what I learned from my mentors at American Express.

Are many of the strategies for recruiting diverse talent the same or similar in higher education and corporate?

I think diversity recruiting always boils down to relationship-building and having really strong pipelines of talent. That’s the same whether it’s at a company or an academic institution. So, what organizations are you working with — such as The Consortium — to ensure that continued pipeline of talent? It’s also thinking about the environment you’re bringing diverse candidates into and whether that environment is going to be supportive and inclusive. On the academic side, having sufficient financial aid and scholarship funding to attract top diverse candidates is also essential.

So, I think that the populations are different, but the principles are the same, and it just requires continued effort, strategic focus and financial investment to be successful.

What have you learned along the way in your career?

My career has taken a lot of unique twists that have led me to my current position. Because of this, I have learned to be open to new experiences and opportunities that are out of my comfort zone. And I continue to invest in my leadership and professional development so that I am always prepared for my next role.

I’ve also learned to be very intentional about networking and relationship-building because you just don’t know when people are going to show up in your story and what role they’re going to play. I never thought when I was in business school that I would wind up on The Consortium Board of Trustees with colleagues I met years before at Consortium recruiting events.

Impressions matter, the connections you build with people matter, and you always have to be mindful of that. Such connections can also lead to great opportunities through mentors and sponsors.

How has the business acumen you gained from your MBA helped you in your professional roles in higher education?

I’m always the person in the room asking about the return on investment or questioning why we are doing something. I also have a relentless focus on results. I think that has helped me move up in higher education very quickly. I went from director to senior director to assistant dean to assistant provost to vice president in about eight and a half years, which is not typical for someone without a PhD who didn’t start their career in higher education.

Getting an MBA fueled my ambition and my drive to very quickly prove my worth. My corporate experience taught me to navigate organizations to make decisions, solve problems and get things done as efficiently as possible. I also push myself to start every role with very clear goals about what I want to accomplish in year one, year two, year three. So I came into higher education with a different perspective that has been very beneficial in advancing diversity and inclusion.

What has been your driving force throughout your career?

I’ve always tried to make my mark and leave organizations better than I found them. I’m someone who is really good at coming in and fixing what’s broken — looking at what’s not working and what can be implemented to improve results.

My parents are both Jamaican immigrants. They have always stressed that I have to work really hard to be successful and to fight for what I believe in. So I work extremely hard and try to do my best to make them proud.

Access and support for underrepresented minorities is really important to me. I have always tried to put policies and programs in place that are going to increase our numbers and improve our experiences at various institutions.

My goal is to not just leave a legacy, but to create a foundation that won’t crumble when I leave — like the conference I started at Emory and the programs I implemented at Cornell and Northwestern that are still having an impact.

I’ve always felt a personal responsibility and strong motivation to do this work; it probably comes from my parents.

With access, diversity and inclusion being your area of focus?

Yes — wanting to be a voice for the voiceless.

As someone who has a few different underrepresented identities, I have always fought for those voices to be heard, for people who are underrepresented to be seen, valued and included.

What do you enjoy most about your current position? What is your ultimate career goal?

My ultimate career goal was to get to the role I have now. Every step I’ve taken, from that first switch into diversity at American Express in 2007, has been to become a chief diversity officer (CDO). It actually happened earlier than I thought it would, so I’m not sure what will be next.

As Pratt’s vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, I enjoy working closely with our president and serving as a senior leader of our institution. I also love the variety of diversity, equity and inclusion work, because no matter how much you plan, no day is ever the same. This work constantly forces you to think outside of the box, learn something new and be a creative problem solver. It really utilizes a lot of the skills I learned during business school.

A business mindset is helpful in an academic CDO role because you need to effectively impact the entire institution. You’re working with HR, communications and marketing, admissions, student services, academic programs, advancement, finance and information technology — basically every part of the organization — to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. It is very much aligned with what you learn in business school about leadership, influencing without authority and relationship-building.

I’m blessed and fortunate to have the job that I have. I get to make a difference and improve access for diverse students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners every day. Diversity, equity and inclusion will always be hard and emotional work, but it’s very rewarding.

The post A Voice for the Voiceless: Using an MBA as a Force for Good appeared first on The Consortium.
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Surabhi Agrawal Strives to Empower Coffee Farmers through Traceability  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Apr 2019, 11:00
FROM The Consortium Admissions Blog: Surabhi Agrawal Strives to Empower Coffee Farmers through Traceability and Transparency
As an immigrant to the United States at the age of 8, Surabhi Agrawal has been shaped by her experiences in and the differences in opportunity that exist between the U.S. and her home country of India.

Both her role as a “global citizen,” as she has called herself, and her parents’ professions — her father works for a nonprofit, and her mother is a school teacher — sparked in her a desire to provide access to opportunities to others globally. With this as her vision and a sense of responsibility to give back, Agrawal decided to study international relations in college, with a focus on political science and a minor in religion.

After graduating from Emory University in 2010, Agrawal moved to Scotland to complete a master’s degree in peace and conflict studies. The program took her to Rwanda, where she began her thesis fieldwork assessing the role of agriculture cooperatives as a tool for reconciliation post-conflict.

Having loved this experience connecting with farmers and community leaders, Agrawal says she decided to focus on “evidence-based impact evaluation research within international development.” For two years, she worked in India with MIT Poverty Action Lab’s sister organization, the Institute for Financial Management and Research, leading an agriculture insurance study for farmers and a microfinance management study.

“That’s where I really saw the impact that supply chain could have on the lives of farmers,” says Agrawal. “I was working in the Rice Belt in India and was traveling to villages for research work, and I saw that, even in the most remote areas, you could buy a bottle of Coca-Cola even if you couldn’t access some of the basic goods or commodities there. I began to think about supply chain as a real business tool and wanted to come back to the U.S. and look at how supply chain and access to markets could impact international development.”

Upon returning to the U.S., Agrawal was unsure of what direction to go in with her newfound passion and was considering graduate school when she discovered The Consortium. “For me, it provided an opportunity to get an MBA. I don’t know if I would have thought about an MBA without The Consortium,” she says.

After speaking with as many business professionals as she could to learn more about their journey and the work they were doing, Agrawal says she decided on an MBA, knowing that she wanted to eventually focus on “the agricultural value chain in emerging markets.”

Shortly after being accepted as a fellow in the inaugural Consortium class at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, she connected with Starbucks at The Consortium’s annual conference, the OP. A summer internship focused on ingredient sourcing for the company’s U.S. supply chain solidified her desire to do this work. Agrawal was asked to come back full time the following year, working in Starbucks’ global supply chain division, focused on sourcing.

About a year ago, she joined the global coffee division as a traceability manager and now concentrates on tracing Starbucks’ coffee from bean to cup. “With our two-year pilot underway, I have the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica, Colombia and Rwanda as I aim to understand how traceability will ultimately help the small-holder farmers at origin,” says Agrawal.

She recently spoke with us about her efforts to make a difference in the lives of coffee farmers, the importance of ethically sourcing ingredients and what motivates her to do this work.

What attracted you to Georgetown and The Consortium?

Georgetown is a school that cultivates global leaders. There’s a significant ethical component to how they have structured the program, and that’s kind of the atmosphere I wanted coming from the international development space and intersecting into business.

For me, it was clear that the graduate programs that are part of The Consortium place a priority on having a diversity of opinion in their classrooms and in society and business overall. It fuels an environment of creative learning and [consideration for] different perspectives and [emphasizes] exposure to a variety of cultures and languages as a key component of doing business today.

Was Starbucks a company that you had been interested in prior to being admitted to The Consortium or attending the OP? How did your internship with the company come about?

Leading up to OP, I had learned about the companies that would be recruiting, and I was focused on those that had a connection to supply chain specifically. That is how I found Starbucks.

When I received a call to visit Seattle for the final round of interviews, they connected me with two past Consortium interns who had worked in supply-chain sourcing and logistics and had accepted full-time offers with the company. Just speaking with them and hearing about their backgrounds and experiences, it was something I felt like I could relate to. They were moving their families all the way to Seattle. I don’t think anybody just does that; you have to be convinced of the work and the company, and that was very helpful for me. That’s how I came into the internship, and I saw this firsthand.

Tell me about your current role with Starbucks.

It’s a really unique role. It was created a year ago, when, at the Annual Meeting of Shareholders, our CEO Kevin Jackson announced that Starbucks was going to launch a two-year pilot focused on traceability so that, as a consumer, you know the journey of your coffee from bean to cup. The [hope] … was that access to information would help empower coffee farmers.

Starbucks has full traceability in its coffee supply chain. Knowing the names of all of the coffee farmers we buy from is part of our C.A.F.E. Practices ethical sourcing program; this is 380,000 farmers across 30 countries, so it’s a pretty large supply chain. We are now connecting all of this data to have full, real-time visibility all the way from the farmers at origin to the final consumers.

Right now, we’re in a discovery phase to understand how traceability and access to information will result in social and financial empowerment [for farmers].

I think Starbucks is far ahead in terms of the traceability of its coffee supply chain, but we are on a journey and there’s still much to unravel.

Do you think that companies have a responsibility to ensure that they’re not negatively impacting the communities from which they’re sourcing and, conversely, that they’re having a positive impact on those communities?

Absolutely. Companies have a responsibility to the communities in which they work, and this is a core value at Starbucks. We always say there are many people in the room we have to think about when making a decision. There’s the partner, which is what we call all of our employees; the customer; and the farmer. These are all very valuable stakeholders, [and we have to] ensure we make decisions that consider all those communities.

In your work, have you noticed that consumers are increasingly holding companies more accountable and are seeking out those that act in socially responsible ways?

I think there is a growing trend, especially among millennials, to support companies that are acting ethically and to support efforts in which they believe. In general, there is a call to action from consumers.

I think there’s been an increased focus on traceability, especially in agriculture. For example, consumers want to know where their food comes from, [which has led to] a move toward more local, sustainable and ethical practices.

While consumers are supporting companies that align with their values, I think companies are also rising to the challenge — if it’s not already a part of their mission.

What do you like best about your job?

I love the fact that I get to meet with farmers and hear their stories as part of my work. Going to the origin countries and connecting with the people who are doing the hardest work to bring us a cup of coffee brings an incredible feeling when I hold a cup of coffee in the morning.

I have so much appreciation, knowing that I wanted to work in emerging markets with agriculture and value chains, and I’ve figured out how to do it — and within the context of a business setting at Starbucks. That’s really invigorating.

What motivates you most to do this work?

I am driven by what I believe and by my passion for this work. That’s the foundation I have as an immigrant — to make sure I contribute and live my life working toward something which has meaning to others. That is really what motivates me.

What advice would you give to current or prospective MBA students or recent graduates who are looking to have a positive impact through their careers?

I think, traditionally, people think of corporate social responsibility as the way for corporations to do good, and somebody once said to me, “That’s usually a small division in a company. If you can be part of the core business and understand how the business runs, what it values, and within that realm learn how to make a difference, that will have a big impact.” That was probably the best piece of advice I was given when I started.

Business and impact don’t have to mean corporate social responsibility. There are things that we all can do in our roles and functions in the core business around making ethical choices, decisions which will have a positive impact on the community. I think it’s important to keep that lens on whatever your role is.

The post Surabhi Agrawal Strives to Empower Coffee Farmers through Traceability and Transparency appeared first on The Consortium.
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Surabhi Agrawal Strives to Empower Coffee Farmers through Traceability   [#permalink] 10 Apr 2019, 11:00

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