We spoke to Cambridge MBA student Toni Thorne, after she took part in promoting, as well as co-hosting a session at the Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre Annual Conference – entitled Cambridge Women Can.

How was the session you co-hosted and managed (remotely)?

I hosted the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion panel entitled “Building Beyond the Buzzwords” with panellists Sally Boyle of Goldman Sachs, Janet Mui of Brewin Dolphin, Mark Buswell of GSK and Lola Adebanji of Citi Bank. I was honoured to co-host the actual session with our Cambridge Judge faculty, Professor Lionel Paolella. It was very gracious of the Professor to allow a student to share the ‘stage’ with him. Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is a movement which I hold close to my heart. There are many instances where seats at the tables of influence are still lacking diversity – in gender, sexuality, race, religion and thought. Studies have also shown that many view diversity efforts as PR stunts or corporate efforts, which callously force ‘inclusivity and tokenism’ upon the workforce. There are real repercussions to lack of representation and equally importantly, lack of allyship.

How has your involvement with the Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre Conference added to your Cambridge MBA experience overall?

The Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre (WLC) Annual Conference last year in 2020 was slated to be the same weekend as my MBA interview. I was excited to attend. Unfortunately, the situation with Covid-19 worsened and I decided to return home to Barbados. The 2020 conference was subsequently cancelled. Once I was admitted to the Cambridge MBA programme, one of the projects I knew I wanted to assist with was the WLC 2021. As such, I was very keen when Professor Jenny Chu and Tracey Horn invited me to be on the planning committee.

Will you take this experience forward into your future career?

I am very passionate about Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. I have learnt that it is a dangerous thing to be satisfied with being the only person who looks like and thinks like me at a table of influence and spaces of great privilege. I have also learnt that it does not augur well to surround ourselves only with people who have similar experiences to the ones we have had. I truly believe in lifting as one climbs and creating spaces for others in the spaces we occupy. My post-MBA goal is to work within Investment Management. Whichever organisation I am employed by, I shall commit to being a member of any employee organisation focused on diversity and inherently improving the organisation and the wider industry.

Anything else you wish to share….

My favourite memory of the conference was the preparatory work conducted by various women across the business school to produce the promotional video.

Collaborating with so many women who are all passionate about female empowerment was very energising. Hard to imagine? They say a picture is worth a hundred words.


For more details on the Wo+Men’s leadership Centre at Cambridge Judge Business School please visit our web pages here>

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