I was excited to attend the 2022 Forté MBA Leadership Conference in Los Angeles.  This annual conference is organised by the Forté Foundation, a non-profit consortium of leading companies and business schools working together to launch women into fulfilling, significant careers through access to business education, work opportunities and a network of successful women.

The conference welcomed Forté Fellows from around the world, including me and Meredith Bird – and both of us will attend Cambridge Judge this September.  Attendees had the opportunity to hear presentations from high-level female executives across a variety of industries and to meet representatives from global companies eager to connect with students in-person after two years of virtual conferences.

Here are my key learnings from the conference:

MBAs can be agents of great change.

Now more than ever, companies must adapt to a rapidly changing business environment, and MBAs are deeply involved helping companies re-engineer business processes and implement sweeping changes.  For example, two executives with MBAs – Shalley Wen, Senior Director and Procurement Lead at Johnson & Johnson and Elizabeth Door, Senior Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer at Whirlpool – highlighted the challenges of re-engineering supply chains to be both low-cost and resilient to disruption.

Women are still underrepresented in business, but things are changing.

Women are still significantly underrepresented in all levels of management, and the pandemic has created a host of new challenges, especially for women.  But, I was heartened to hear from women in senior roles across a broad range of industries including technology, consulting, banking, healthcare, consumer products, who acknowledged that their companies are taking action to address some of the challenges faced by female employees.  The panellists emphasised a growing trend that companies want to hire, retain, and promote a more diverse workforce, even if it is taking longer than it should.

Your career path (and life path) will not be linear—and that’s okay.

Jenean Glover and Dr. Jennifer Turner shared their own professional journeys to illustrate this point.  Ms. Glover started as an engineer at Hewlett Packard, founded a talent agency, earned an MBA, and now runs a creative non-profit.  Dr. Turner began in investment banking, earned her MBA, founded a start-up, went back to school to study public health, and is now an Executive Vice President of Sony Television, simultaneously running a wellness non-profit.

Hearing their stories was of great comfort to me.  Over the past ten years I’ve jumped from majoring in archaeology to psychology, working in tech in Silicon Valley, and attending law school in San Francisco.  And shortly, I will begin my MBA at Cambridge.

As a Silicon Valley native, I’m obligated to close with the famous Steve Jobs quote: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”

Maddy Klein is one of our Forté Foundation Scholarship recipients for the incoming Cambridge MBA Class of 2022-23.

To find out more about our CJBS Scholarships please visit our Fees & Funding web pages here >