In celebration of Black History Month in February, Darden Admissions hosted a webinar exploring the experience of women of color in Darden’s Executive MBA program.

The panel discussion was hosted by Assistant Director of Admissions Ashley Robinson and Director of Admissions Katherine Alford, and featured several recent program alumnae, including Janeth Gomez (GEMBA ‘17), Arica Booker (EMBA ‘18), Priyanka Rattana (EMBA ‘19) and Claritza Jimenez (EMBA ‘21).

Watch: Women of Color Panel Webinar

Women of Color Alumnae Panel, hosted on 17 February

During the session, the wide-ranging conversation touched upon the panelists’ MBA journeys, their reflections on their Darden experiences, the personal and structural challenges that women of color often face in their careers and how these challenges can impact their motivations to pursue an MBA.

The panelists also emphasized the importance of mentorship and sponsorship for women of color, with Gomez noting that her sponsor at Capital One was instrumental in shaping how she approached the time demands of her MBA. Booker shared that pursuing an MBA led her to actively seek out mentor relationships in her work life.

Jimenez spoke powerfully about how the events of the 2020 — particularly the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests — shaped her class’ MBA experience, “It was difficult to ignore what was happening in our country around race and politics. And we had to navigate that as a class. For a lot of us, in the year 2020, it became more about what is the responsibility of business to society when it comes to issues of race, racism, inclusion and bias. And I think very quickly we all had to become comfortable with the fact that you can’t separate business from these issues. I guarantee you that every CEO that we were working for in 2020 was staying up late at night thinking about ‘What is the company memo that I’m going to send to talk about Black Lives Matter? To talk about race and racism?’”

Lastly, the panelists concluded the event by sharing advice and tips for attendees considering their MBA, including:

  • Shift from a thinking mode and take some action towards the application itself. Get out of the research and analysis loop and take some action towards putting an application together.
  • Go visit. This can be helpful to you as you visualize what your MBA experience will be. And start making your own plan and make your MBA reality. Don’t postpone it. Just do it.
  • Have a conversation with your family. It’s not just you going through the program. It’s the whole family. Kids. Spouses. Setting that expectation is very important for everyone, family included.
  • Make a tight plan with your employer, with some clear goals in mind, as you approach your MBA.
  • Understand what this step will mean for you, for your career and ask these questions of your employer as well as the schools you are considering.

Interested in taking the next step with Darden’s Professional Degree MBA Formats?

There are two remaining Part-Time MBA deadlines: 1 April and 1 June, and monthly Executive MBA deadlines from 10 March through late June. Start an application today!

Continue to explore Darden’s professional degree programs by joining for an upcoming event. We offer a range of events from small group chats to webinars to mock case discussions and more.