A source of amusement in Alex Walker Turner’s family is her motivation to get things done – often in record time and to the astonishment of her family. “Once when I was younger, my parents mentioned casually that a room in our house needed painting. By the end of the day, I had finished the job. If I am excited and have passion for something, I will drop everything and get it done,” she explains.
It is no surprise then that Alex was the recipient of the 2017 Edie Hunt Inspiration Award. As an MBA student at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business and Forté Fellow, she “has been the driving force in creating new initiatives at Rotman that will continue long after she graduates,” said Niki Da Silva, managing director of Rotman’s full-time MBA program.
Making more happen in two years than most people ever do
Along with six other Forté Fellows, Alex led the launch of Rotman Links, a mentorship program that partners both male and female MBAs with undergraduate women who may be considering a business career. By joining mentors and mentees through a comprehensive matching process, undergraduates receive valuable career insights and MBAs can strengthen their leadership muscles by offering mentorship to future leaders.
Alex was also instrumental in the launch of the inaugural Canadian Graduate Women in Management Conference. The day-long conference – the first of its kind in Canada – brings together women MBAs from across Canada with corporate sponsors to kickstart the dialogue about women and the workplace. Before attending business school, Alex was an event planner, and she used those skills to produce the event. The conference will be an annual event, and incoming Forté Fellows will ensure its continuation via a seamless process Alex helped create.
Alex was also a key member of the team responsible for establishing the first male allies group at a Canadian business school – Rotman’s WiMen Allies Program. She said that Rotman modeled its program after the “Manbassadors” at the University of California at Berkeley Haas School of Business, a highly successful initiative.
Of Alex’s accomplishments, Niki Da Silva says: “Ideas like this have been talked about in the past by others, but she stepped up and made more happen in her two years at Rotman than most students ever do.”
Her path to business school was not a straight line
While it is clear that Alex is eager to embrace opportunities for diversity and inclusion, she has not always been so involved in her academic communities nor did she set her sights on an MBA from the beginning of her education and career.
As a varsity cheerleader for two years while an undergraduate at Queen’s University, Alex did not have as much time to devote to her school community. “I knew when I came back to get the MBA, I wanted to participate as much as I could,” she says. Alex is also driven by her wish that there had been similar resources when she was younger that could have helped her “journey from liberal arts to b school,” she says.
After getting an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Philosophy and a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from McMaster University, Alex worked first in Toronto and later in London, UK for a large-scale, global event management company. She said it was while getting her master’s degree that she became interested in business strategy and discovered an aptitude for quants.
Although Alex has graduated from Rotman and in August will begin a new job as an associate consultant in McKinsey & Co.’s Digital practice, Leigh Gauthier, Rotman’s Assistant Director for Recruitment & Admissions, believes Alex will “continue her legacy of pointing young women to business careers and the MBA.”
During her acceptance of the Edie Hunt Award at Forte’s 2017 MBA Women’s Leadership Conference in Seattle, Alex shared with the audience of mostly incoming MBA students her top seven take-aways from business school. “The one that is biggest for me, Alex says, “is ‘be unapologetic about your ambition.’ The MBA really changed me – the way I think about the future and choices,” she explains.
Bringing Forté north of the border
Alex plans to remain involved with both the Rotman alumni group and with Forté because she sees a need. “In Canada, we don’t always feel we have the same number of opportunities to network and go to events,” she says. She feels very fortunate to have been a Forté Fellow and to have access to Forté’s many resources, and she would like to bring more Forté events to Toronto. “There are some impressive women north of the border who would benefit,” she says.
If Alex is representative of the women at Rotman, they are an impressive group indeed.