Today’s post is authored by Katie Nunner, an incoming Full-Time MBA student in the Class of 2025. Nunner took advantage of two pre-matriculation events hosted by Forté Foundation, an organization who partners with business schools (like Darden!), universities, non-profits and more to achieve female representation across the corporate spectrum.

The opportunity to join two Forté Foundation conferences even before I stepped foot on Darden’s campus was invaluable. Forté has inspired and challenged me, and I cannot recommend the organization enough for anyone starting an MBA. Attending the conferences helped me reflect on my previous work experiences at the World Bank and international government affairs consulting. The events especially helped me to define my personal and professional goals during my MBA.

Katie Nunner (Class of 2025)

In New York at the Financial Services FAST Track event, I met our Darden cohort and women from other MBA programs. It was invigorating to meet more women excited about careers in finance. Within the first day, it reaffirmed my decision to do an MBA. I recommend anyone attending in future years to make sure to join the training street and crafting your pitch sessions. These workshops allowed us to participate fully in engaging with companies and women in finance from the start. The panels were also an awesome way to hear real perspectives on the opportunities and challenges for women in finance. It seemed like every panel or event had a Darden alum! Many thanks to Alex Esposito for helping us prep for the conference in advance.

Just a few weeks later, I joined 600+ more women in Dallas at the MBA Leadership Conference, ready to engage in leadership activities from myriad industries such as consumer packaged goods, technology, health, energy, and more. We had 25+ incoming students from Darden join along with amazing advice and guidance from Darden with Admissions’ Haley Whitlock Gyory and Katherine Alford, and the Career Center’s Christy Gunville. Female executives from Davita, Walgreens, PwC, and others offered perspectives at the plenary on making the most of the MBA, how to connect with people in difficult situations, and giving back throughout your career. It culminated with Sukari Brown (MBA ’23) receiving the 2023 Edie Hunt Inspiration Award!

Darden’s cohort of Forté MBA Leadership Conference attendees in Dallas, 2023.

A few topics I’m reflecting on from the conferences:

  1. Purpose: You know you and why you decided to go to business school. Find ways to cut through the noise. Seek mentors and sponsors to support your purpose.
  2. Passion: Bring your full self to business school. Your biggest competitive advantage is you.
  3. Impact: Always consider ways you are contributing to your team and clients. What have I done for the people around me? What have I learned from the people above me?

I’m excited to kick off my MBA this fall!