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Jacqui Cuffe, 2014 Edie Hunt Award Winner: A Passion for Leadership

Congratulations to Jacqui Cuffe, one of our two 2014 Edie Hunt Award winners! The award, named for Forté’s board chair emeritus, recognizes a recent MBA graduate for her outstanding contribution to women in business.

Jacqui got her MBA at Indiana University Kelley School of Business, where she headed Kelley Women, a club for MBA women that helps develop women in the program personally and professionally. This July, Jacqui is getting married, moving to New York, and starting a new job at Microsoft — all at the same time! — but we managed to catch up with her to talk about the award and what it stands for.

The issue of mentorship and networking for women in business is one that has always been a priority, she notes. At Kelley, she knew she wanted to join Kelley Women, and she saw an opportunity for Kelley women to help with the admissions process.

Under her guidance, the group updated its blog and started a webinar. “The webinar allowed prospective women to see who we are and ask questions,” she notes.

The group also organized a faculty auction, raising $25,000 for local communities. They reached out to Girls, Inc. finding ways to educate young women in the surrounding area about careers in business.

Jacqui recalls that she didn’t know a lot about career opportunities in business when she was growing up and she feels like even at the undergraduate level, there are a lot of women who don’t know the value of an MBA. “You can start early on to show someone their true potential,” she says.

This fall, Jacqui is heading to Microsoft to “scratch the entrepreneurial itch.” She says Microsoft is interested in bringing in young MBAs to help forecast future directions for the company. She is joining in the healthcare vertical, helping to develop a new program.

Jacqui says she intends to stay part of the Forté family. During her MBA years, she encouraged the admissions team at Kelley to attend Forté events, where they encountered leaders from top companies who shared their interest in developing talented young women.

“It was so cool to see these senior women and top companies all talking about the importance of having women in the company,” she says. “Having women in leadership is something I’ve been passionate about for a long time.”

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