Impact Stories

Colleen McMullen Values Forté’s Efforts to Engage Women at Every Career Level

As Executive Director of Community and Inclusion at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business and a former Forté board member, Colleen McMullen has seen how Forté’s programming is supporting women to fearlessly transform the face and future of business.

What is it about Forté’s mission that you think is so important?
I’ve been involved with Forté for many years as a past Board member and sponsor, and what has always resonated with me is Forté’s ability to create access for women to business education and helping them see how the foundation of business can further their careers, whatever path they take.

Each year schools have to make decisions about where to invest their time and money. How do you see Forté as unique or different and what makes it a worthwhile investment?
I’ve been part of other organizations that support women, and Forté is unique in how it engages women at any stage. From the undergraduate who knows nothing about business to the seasoned career woman, Forté helps women no matter where they are in their careers. Forté’s value proposition for Carnegie Mellon is a continuum – getting involved earlier in a woman’s career helps build a future pipeline for MBA women down the road.

Sometimes these types of partnerships provide something unexpected. Have you or the team at CMU experienced something beyond what you expected from Forté?
There are so many. For one, I have colleagues who have become friends because we have a shared focus: to engage with brilliant young women and help them succeed. Being in a position to support young women who are doubtful or experience “Impostor Syndrome” and watching them flourish is very rewarding. These young people are our future, and they are part of changing the narrative of what a CEO looks like. I get a lot of personal satisfaction in being around young women who are fearlessly changing the face of business.

Forté is helping drive a new narrative by showing the many potential paths of a business career.



If you were chatting with an administrator employed by a non-Forté MBA school, what would you say to convince him or her to consider Forté as a diversity resource?
First, I would ask questions to understand their goals, challenges, and values. When I ask if the representation of women and their intersectional identities are important to their organization, sometimes I hear, “We are doing okay.” But is okay good enough? Forté is helping to drive the imperative that we all must engage a global, representative citizenry to make sure our business students have a level of comfort in any environment.

What do you believe is the most pressing challenge for gender diversity and inclusion in MBA schools today? How does Forté support your progress in these areas?
The value of a business education is perceived differently than law or medical schools. We have to continually peel back the stereotype of how business is perceived and broaden its definition. It is not just about making money, and the skills acquired in business education can be part of many different career trajectories. Forté is helping drive a new narrative by showing the many potential paths of a business career.

What is your #1 advice for MBA women to not only thrive in their careers, but also reach top leadership positions?
Women (and men) have to navigate some tough challenges in business so it’s important to have a circle of support to tap into along the journey. They don’t have to figure it out on their own. This “Impostor Syndrome” is really prevalent. Women continue to think they should not be in the rooms they are in, and having mentors to help guide them will instill the confidence to fight against that.

What should other MBA school leaders do to raise women up in business?
We have to continue to create an environment where all students understand the value proposition of having a high level of cultural competency. Our students are being educated to lead diverse teams and organizations, and having a lens of equity and inclusion will make them better leaders. The Men as Allies program is an example of innovative thinking. Having men (along with women) involved in the discussion about gender equity while they are in business school means they will hopefully take that learning into their careers where they can influence strategic decision-making and be the inclusive leaders we need for the future.

Related posts

Get newsletters and events relevant
to your career by joining Forté.

our partners