Early Career

Advice from Forté “MBA Moms”

In celebration of Mother’s Day—and in hopes that Forté women will continually inspire one another—we welcomed comments from those in the Forté network who are pursuing, or who already earned, their MBAs while also raising children. Here’s what they said about how the unique perspectives of MBA students who are moms add value on campus and beyond.

Katherine-Beaulieu-Family“I believe that role modeling motherhood had a big impact on my classmates, especially the younger women in my class. I hope they were encouraged by my experience and inspired by my choice to be committed to both my family and my future.”

Katherine Beaulieu
The Ohio State University, Fisher College of Business, 2015 MBA Candidate
Mom of Julian Ryan, age 3 months

Kathleen-Brennan-Family“I am daily, visible proof to my children that education is worth sacrifice. I am the mother of two teen sons with high-functioning autism. My goal is to create workforce opportunities for the 10,000 within this population who graduate from U.S. high schools annually with little preparation for success on campus and in the workforce.”

Kathleen Ann Brennan
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management, 2016 Executive MBA Candidate
Mom of George, age 20, and James, age 15

Noramay-Cadena-Family“We recognize the value of diversity in business school along background, gender, and ethnic lines, but rarely do we discuss family status. Women raising children and entering motherhood during their business school careers add a leadership dimension to learning—they represent competency and ability. For those working shoulder to shoulder with them, there’s an intangible benefit that will travel with them across the globe and serve as a reminder of the value contributed by working women. In a more direct way, female MBAs raising kids are also more likely to improve the quality of life for women coming in after them. Examples might include their efforts to designate nursing/privacy rooms or question the applicability of certain flex processes on campus.”

Noramay Cadena
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management, 2011 MBA Graduate
Mom of Chassitty Saldana, age 16

Kelly-Garnes-Pages-Family“Becoming a mom to my little girl has made me a better person. She has inspired me to take risks and to never give up. Grace’s inspiration has propelled me to be an inspiration to others. As Co-President of Columbia Women in Business, I work hard to advocate for current and prospective MBA moms. As a career switching MBA mom, I am proof that you can still pursue your dreams, while helping your children to pursue their own.”

Kelly Garnes-Pages
Columbia Business School, 2015 MBA Candidate
Mom of Grace

Julie-Gobin-Family“As a mom raising two daughters, having a full time job, and attending the Executive MBA Program at the Chicago Booth School of Business, I have to be extremely organized in order to fulfill my roles to their fullest and be efficient with my time and my tasks. I want to be a great role model for my daughters—they are old enough to see and understand what I am achieving for myself and for them, and have grown to appreciate it over the past year. During my study group session at school, fellow classmates have appreciated my dedication, hard work, and ‘let’s get back in scope’ mentality. On the other hand, when you have children, things don’t always go according to plan and you have to improvise. This makes me a flexible and agile individual and a well-rounded, ‘very busy’ individual.”

Julie Gobin
University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, 2016 Executive MBA Candidate
Mom of Lea, age 12, and Chloe, age 9

Jamie-Ikerd-Family“I had a unique opportunity to discuss and preview with my female colleagues what life as a working mom might actually look like. I enjoyed many rich conversations discussing the softer concepts of work-life balance that often exceed the scope of the typical MBA classroom. Additionally, I feel like my ‘mom perspective’ helped me to bring an 80/20 perspective to teamwork and encourage my peers and colleagues to be focused on value-maximizing deliverables (e.g., not sweating the details so much). In turn, I feel so thankful to have had a baby during business school. The environment and network provided me with a tremendous amount of support, schedule flexibility, quality time with my daughter and husband, and an opportunity to cement my family values going forward.”

Jamie Ikerd
Vanderbilt, Owen Graduate School of Management, 2015 MBA Candidate
Mom of Maddy, age 18-months-old

Frédérique-Lambers-Family“I remembered having conversations with other female students about how to manage both an MBA program and parenting. Some students—female as well as male—were skeptical about my ability to face both situations but would be really supportive when we would have group assignments (e.g., were willing to find a convenient schedule for meetings). At the end of the first term, it is common for MBA students to feel extremely tired. Some had wondered why I would not feel the same—but I had to increase my level of efficiency! As a young mother of a newborn, I had to stick to a strict sleeping schedule, quickly identify supportive teammates, learn to delegate, and accept that sometimes I could not go for the best grade in a particular class.”

Frédérique Lambers
University of Michigan, Ross School of Business, 2009 MBA Graduate
Mom of Jonas, age 7

Virginia-Moon-Family“When I started the MBA program at the University of Michigan, I was focused on making lifelong friends and connections, and landing a fulfilling job. All of this quickly changed when I became pregnant with my first son because my priority was now being a mother first and student second. I shared these priorities with my classmates so that they were clear on the ‘work-life balance’ I was trying to establish for myself. I think my situation was a preview of what my classmates and I were going to face in the workforce, which is how to establish balance when you want to be successful in two arenas. Today, as a working mother, I constantly struggle with getting this balance ‘just right,’ but I believe I’ve been successful in both arenas because I try to stay true to myself.”

Virginia Moon
University of Michigan, Ross School of Business, 2010 MBA Graduate
Mom of Derek, age 5, and Sean, age 3

Onyi-Okeh-Family2“Having a family keeps me very grounded and focused while pursuing my MBA. While I am not able to participate in many social activities with my classmates, I go home to my family—who is very supportive and encouraging. My unique experience as a mother makes me fit to manage the stress and pressure that can be experienced in graduate school. It also adds to our class diversity to make for very interesting discussions and unique team member contributions. Other students are also encouraged by my zeal and commitment, and I serve as a good resource to similar women who are considering business school.”

Onyi Okeh
Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business, 2016 MBA Candidate
Mom of Adaku, age 6, Zara, age 4, and Emily, age 8 months

Michelle-Petrel-Family“As a mother of two active children, I had no choice but to carefully manage all of my time. There was no time to get stuck ‘in the weeds’ of any project—we had to make a decision, plot a course, and act! The time management skills that all moms must have enabled me to not only earn my MBA, but also to serve in leadership roles for multiple organizations.”

Michelle Petrel
The Ohio State University, Fisher College of Business, 2012 MBA Graduate
Mom of Camilla, age 13, and Henry, age 6

Read additional perspectives in our Mother’s Day feature story: Eat Your Asparagus: Celebrating Mothers’ Achievements through Forté and MBAMama.

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