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Impact Stories

Forté Impact: Alex Walker Turner

As a Forté Fellow, Alex Walker Turner created a lasting legacy to motivate other women at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management to rise higher.

She and six other Forté Fellows piloted Rotman Links — a program that partners undergraduate women with both male and female MBA mentors who share practical career advice — as a model for other Forté schools around the world to follow.

For Alex, the mentor program nurtured an allyship with her male classmates that continues to fuel her relationships with colleagues at McKinsey & Company, where she’s thriving as a team leader and advocate for parity in the workplace.

“As a young woman in business, trying to carve a career in a traditionally male-dominated industry that serves traditionally male-dominated industries, parity is always top of mind for me,” Alex said. “In my mind, that is an opportunity to create partnerships and friendships, and Forté really gave me the mandate to do that.”

Forté is very much in the trenches of actually giving women the tools and resources they need to accelerate their careers.

 

Paving the way for other women

She and her Forté Fellow classmates reflected on their different career paths, with each one leading to an MBA, and wondered what they could do to accelerate undergraduate women’s success.

“We identified an opportunity around mentorship and creating linkages between the business school and the undergraduate network,” Alex said.

Through a comprehensive matching process, Rotman Links helps undergraduate women build interview skills, improve resumes, get career advice and bounce ideas off MBA mentors. It also connects undergrads with Forté’s Rising Stars program to build broader personal networks.

“From the outset, we wanted to provide advice to these women as if we were talking to our younger selves,” Alex said. “Many of us had come from non-traditional business backgrounds and didn’t study economics or finance or business as undergrads. We wanted to find more women and men with diverse experience, who could speak to the different pathways you could take — either to an MBA or to rewarding business careers.”

They worked side by side with Forté to develop an operations manual for setting up similar mentorship programs at other schools, which now serves as a guide for Forté’s partner schools.

“Forté is very much in the trenches of actually giving women the tools and resources they need to accelerate their careers — whether that is through Rising Stars and conferences at the undergraduate level or financial resources through the Forté Fellowship that allow women who may not have the opportunity otherwise to go to business school.”

In business school you start that allyship conversation early so that men and women graduate and more into their careers with a spirit of partnership.

 

Getting men on board

At the same time, she and several Forté Fellows, along with Rotman’s Women In Management Association, established the first male allies group at a Canadian business school — Rotman’s WiMen Allies Program. They modeled it on two men-as-allies groups at Forté partner schools: University of California at Berkeley Haas School of Business and University of California at Los Angeles Anderson School of Management.

“In business school, you start that allyship conversation early so that men and women graduate and move into their careers with a spirit of partnership,” Alex said.

“Statistically those men will enter at higher levels of seniority, they will progress faster through the organization, and they will be paid more,” she continued. “So it’s important that we partner with our male colleagues to expose them to the disparities — the ways men and women are perceived and progress through their careers in the corporate world.”

Changing the balance of power

After getting her MBA, Alex was recruited to McKinsey & Company’s digital practice, consulting for high-tech media and telecom companies and on strategy and implementation across industries.

Now an engagement manager at McKinsey & Company, she leads consulting teams that work on the ground with clients. She’s a conduit to leadership on both sides of client projects.

“We are one of the largest producers of research on gender parity, producing a parity report each year,” Alex said. “Parity is top of mind for us at the firm — how we continue to involve our male colleagues in conversation. Feeling a continued connection with Forté has spurred me to keep thinking about these types of topics.”

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