2009 Edie Hunt Inspiration Award Winner
With the personality of a cheerleader (Meyers-Briggs Extreme Extrovert!), Rebecca Libby (Chicago Booth 09) is someone who prefers to root for the underdog. So, when she matriculated into the Chicago Booth School of Business and realized that women were in the minority, she wasn’t fazed.
“It’s nice to know we’re in an uphill battle,” says the eternal optimist. “I get excited just thinking about the possibilities—if we can just get women interested in the opportunity that a business career presents, there are so many different things women can do, so many places to lead.”
And with a brush of her hands, she was off and running and being inspirational: During her time at Chicago, she served as a leader in the University of Chicago Women’s Business Group, a volunteer for Forté’s Career Lab, a Class Agent who connects students with alumni, a Dean’s Admissions Committee co-chair, and a facilitator in the LEAD program.
Through LEAD, in which second-year students orient the first-year students to the academic, professional and social life of the school, she met every incoming woman MBA student. “We’re the first people they encounter when they come on campus—b-school can be pretty intimidating, so it’s important to have a mentor,” Libby says. “It was an opportunity to have a huge impact on these students.”
As a member of the admissions committee, she was the face of the school as she interacted with all prospective students; her goal was to communicate and educate. While she talked with men and women alike, she says she noticed that the women sought her out—they specifically wanted a woman to answer their questions about the program. “I wanted to make sure that these women knew all the resources available and that they had really thought about whether Chicago was a good match for them.” ”
In that role, Libby found herself doling out a lot of assurance. “The most frequent questions I answered for these women were about career services,” she says. “Because of the economy, many women have been worried about leaving their jobs and about their ability to find a new job when they graduate.”
Having landed a job with Target Corporation in Minneapolis, Libby can point to herself as proof that a Chicago pedigree and a lot of hard work pays off in the end. She plans to help build a women’s business group at Target and to be involved in the company’s active community relations department. What’s more, Libby has already contacted the leader of the Chicago-Booth Alumni organization, and will most surely play a role in building the community of active alumni in the Minneapolis area.
“I also love the academic community and plan to stay active in Forté,” Libby says. “Minneapolis is an underserved area in general, and one of the things I’d like to do is hold quarterly events for women to serve as a resource for those seeking information about business careers.
“I’ve been fortunate to have had the chance to bond with all kinds of wonderful women and to watch them become more confident as they progress through the MBA program,” Libby says. “I feel like I was able to offer something a little different from the typical MBA, my personality is a little different from what you’d expect.” But she adds, “There are so many amazing people in the MBA program; and I made sure that prospective students knew they all had their own unique characteristics to bring to the table.”
Three cheers for women MBAs!