Impact Stories

Forté Fellow: From MBALaunch On Demand to IESE in Barcelona

Growing up in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad & Tobago, Samantha Sangster was among the first in her family to graduate from college. After getting a Physics degree, she taught at a high school, started a management business, managed operations for a language school in Barcelona, and worked at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. Despite her extensive career, Samantha felt business was a missing piece of her educational puzzle. She soon discovered Forté MBALaunch On Demand, and she is now a Forté Fellow studying for her MBA at IESE in Barcelona. 

Beginnings: A Childhood in Trinidad & Tobago 

Samantha had an idyllic childhood spent with extended family in Trinidad & Tobago, a diverse multi-cultural and multi-racial nation in the West Indies. From her parents, she inherited her dad’s pragmatism (he taught her how to fix a car), and her mother was adventuresome and a dreamer. She credits her stepmother with teaching her the value of maintaining a budget, which Samantha still does twice a month. These formative years made Samantha a self-starter, and she knew her next step was to get a college degree – the second person in her family to do so. 

Exploration: Teacher to Entrepreneur to World Bank  

After getting an undergraduate degree in Physics at the University of West Indies, Samantha first taught high school then tried her hand at entrepreneurship by starting a company specializing in events and management for small businesses.  

With an interest in Spanish, Samantha reached out to a former professor to tell her she was interested in working with the Spanish-speaking community. The professor serendipitously had recently opened a language school in Barcelona and invited Samantha to work there in a marketing role. Samantha stayed almost two years before deciding to join her partner in Washington, D.C.  

While there, she landed a job in Knowledge Management at the World Bank in its Climate Change Group, where she produced professional development and training programs for staff. Although she hasn’t directly applied her knowledge of physics to her work – “I no longer calculate planetary oscillations,” she jokes – Samantha approaches everything she does with a scientific mindset. “I like to tell people I was born a scientist and always will be,” she explains.  

Perhaps it was her analytical mind that led her to apply to business school. “I wanted to focus more on organization and strategy,” she says. She would go home after work and google business issues that came up during the day. Samantha always knew that she wanted to continue her studies. “There were missing gaps,” she explains, and she felt that the MBA was the best solution to address them and combine her professional interests. 

From Forté MBALaunch On Demand to IESE 

As Samantha explored MBA schools and application processes, she found Forté. She attended her first Forté MBA Forum in 2018 and has since participated in other Forté offerings, such as online webinars, local D.C. events, Forté’s Fast Track to Finance program, and the MBA Women’s Leadership Conference in Los Angeles. Most critically, Samantha participated in MBALaunch On Demand, of which she says, “It helped me frame my story, and I became ‘application buddies’ with others in the program.”  

When considering MBA schools, Samantha had four criteria. As an international student, it was important to her to go to a school with a strong global brand that would attract the right companies; she wanted a two-year program since she would be changing industries; she knew that she learned best by doing so she applied to schools that used the case method; and she wanted a diverse student population, reflective of growing up in Trinidad & Tobago. 

As a Forté Fellow at IESE, Samantha has created a WhatsApp group for other IESE Fellows to connect. “We have a campus community, and I’ve met a lot of awesome women through different events,” she explains. She especially appreciates that Forté offers access to other international women. 

What’s Next: Post-MBA Plans  

So, where will her enthusiasm and varied interests take Samantha after she completes her MBA? “I have always been drawn to creative people, and I am most happy working around them,” she says. With friends who are artists, musicians, comedians, and designers, it’s fitting that Samantha hopes to go into the entertainment industry.  Although she doesn’t know exactly what her role will be, she wants to “support creatives in some way.”  

Whatever she does, her connection to Forté will remain. She is committed to uplifting others and seeing more women leading. As she says, “I go all in when I like something.” 

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