With 2022 kicking off, this naturally creates some reflection on the past, present and future. As part of the Class of 2022, this year signifies both an end and a beginning. An end to a beautiful, impactful MBA experience as well as an exciting future that would have never been possible without Booth. As part of the 38% of women in my class, many of my reflections are centered around the women who have impacted and shaped my experience pre-Booth, during Booth, and post-Booth.
Many people attribute much of who they are fundamentally to their parents and I am no exception. I learned resilience from my mother. I grew up watching her weather many challenges in life, never wavering in the toughest of moments. When she lost her job of 20+ years due to the ‘08/’09 financial crisis, it was one of the few times I ever saw her waver briefly. This deeply impacted me and what had happened to my mother and many others is what inspired me to pursue a career at the Federal Reserve, which was a pivotal part of my pre-Booth story.
During my time at the Federal Reserve, I was surrounded by strong female mentors who encouraged me to take on many stretch roles and responsibilities. I learned conviction in myself and patience with myself. I ended up running the Fed’s annual stress test (created in response to the ’08/’09 crisis to rebuild the US financial system’s safety and soundness) for the largest institution in the Fed’s portfolio. This would never have happened without my advocates, many who were women that believed in and empowered me. They also full heartedly supported me when I decided to pursue my MBA.
Right before my Booth experience officially kicked off, I attended Booth Live in person (yes, precedented times before COVID). In a brief lunch session, I met a Boothie, Samantha (Sam); Sam and I bonded over being children of immigrants, foodies, but more deeply, women striving to be afforded the same playing field in the professional world as anyone else. It was a brief lunch, but I remember leaving our discussion with a lasting impression and energy, which is why I ultimately chose Booth.
During my first year at Booth, Sam and many other second-year students dedicated countless hours to provide interview prep, resume review, and hype sessions (usually with wine, of course). I learned how perennial empathy and compassion can be. Sam and others made navigating new experiences and impossible-seeming career pivot(s) feel less scary.
Alongside that, I built an incredible community of Booth women I could call upon for career advice, uplifting encouragement, Bachelor watch sessions, and late nights filled with laughter through wine-stained teeth. This among many other reasons is what inspired me to apply to be a co-chair of Chicago Women in Business (CWiB) for my final year at Booth. CWiB has been one of my favorite experiences during my time at Booth, largely due to the many women I have met who share the same passion of female empowerment and gender equity.
Post-Booth, I will be joining Upfront Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in early-stage founders. This was an opportunity I hadn’t even dreamed of prior to Booth. But thanks to Polsky’s VC Lab, which allowed me to work with Upfront part-time during my first year, I am so excited that this is the next chapter in my career. A large part of my decision was attributed to my manager and general partner, Aditi Maliwal, who empowered and inspired me as a female venture capitalist. Despite an industry where only 12% of VCs are women, I saw firsthand how the qualities I had learned – resilience, conviction, patience, empathy, and compassion – are what make Aditi a force in a male-dominated industry.
To all the strong, resilient women who I have had the honor to work with and meet, I am grateful to have learned and built community with you. No one knows what the future holds, but I can promise that I will continue the Booth way of paying-it-forward and work my very hardest to uplift others just as those before me have done for me. Whether it is investing in female founders, mentoring women early in their careers, or supporting those embarking on their own Booth journey, I look forward to a future in which I continue to grow and be inspired by my community of women.