Forté Fellows

Forté Fellow of the Month: Vanessa Douyon

Vanessa Douyon

University of Florida, Sociology, 2009
University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Class of 2015
Hometown: Pembroke Pines, FL
Pre-MBA Work Experience: Recruitment Manager for Teach For America and New Orleans College Prep Charter School Network

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
I was working in the education sector and realized that I wanted to make the transition into the nonprofit leadership and social entrepreneurship space. I had an idea for a nonprofit I wanted to launch, but only practical experience and a theory based education to pair it with. I was looking for the business acumen I thought an MBA, particularly from Chicago Booth, would bring. I also thought that attending business school would give me the time and space to devote myself fully to my nonprofit venture.

What advice do you have for women who are considering business school?
I can’t speak more strongly to the role current MBA students and alumni played in my decision making and, ultimately, application process. While the alums I worked with were able to speak to the quality of investment business was and how it led them to their current careers, current students were able to illustrate the experience vividly and in real time. Talk to people who attended reputable business schools you aren’t thinking about – sometimes they’re able to shed a different light on what to consider (or at least leave you convinced that your list is airtight!)

What’s the most surprising thing you learned about business school during the application process?
My application stressed that as a person interested in education and social entrepreneurship that I would bring diversity of thought to any business class. And while there may be truth to that, I sometimes forget that I’m a “nontraditional” bschool student – I’ve had rich conversations with dozens of classmates interested in education and even more with those interested in entrepreneurship, philanthropy and organizations with social missions.

Do you feel prepared for business school?
I do now! I certainly don’t come from a traditional business background, but I have a wealth of leadership and management experience, which has been incredibly useful. On the other hand, while I faired very well in math in college (and taught secondary mathematics as a teacher), the quantitative aspects of bschool were intimidating, so I elected to take some online courses ahead of matriculation. I would highly recommend doing so if you come from a similar background (check out MBA Math, Khan Academy, or your business school’s summer prep programs for nontraditional students).

What do you do in your free time?
What free time?! I will say that my free time has been pretty limited since starting business school, but when I’m not working on my venture, in class or socializing with classmates, I love kickboxing and boxing. It’s a great workout and stress release.

What would you tell your younger self about the MBA application process and being an MBA student?
I would probably tell myself not to rush it – to take time to really reflect on why I wanted an MBA and which business school would best help me get there. There are a few schools I considered just because I “always wanted to go there,” but, upon closer evaluation, I realized that Booth was really where I needed to be.

Please share something about your experience with Forté.
The Forté network has been incredible. Before applying to business school, I used their blogs and articles to help me understand the application process and as a current student, the network is irreplaceable.

I have not for one second regretted my decision to go to business school, but I think if I had done what was easy, I’d be living in a lifetime of “what-ifs.” If you have a dream, a goal, a vision, then take the first step toward executing.

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