When Covid-19 hit, Alissa Del Toro was working remotely as a product manager for a health care startup. She felt stir crazy in her small Brooklyn apartment, so she decided to study for the GMAT™ and apply to business school. Forté programs helped her make that move — and pivot into a finance career. Forté MBALaunch On Demand guided Alissa through the application process and connected her with other pre-MBA women. She says, “I built a huge network. There are Slack groups and WhatsApp groups, and we're all very supportive of each other. I have a lot of good friends from the program.” I applied to the conference because I wanted to better understand this ecosystem, so that I could see if finance is a good fit for me in the future. As she looked around for remote programs and opportunities that would bolster her MBA application, Alissa connected with a health tech startup that makes apps to help adults manage their ADHD symptoms. When the startup was accepted into an incubator in Berlin, they invited her to join the team. Getting into Europe during the Covid-19 lockdowns was challenging, but she did it — and she'll be heading straight from Berlin to London Business School as a 2023 MBA candidate and Forté Fellow. Exploring a New Career Focus Alissa originally planned to continue working in the tech industry post-MBA, but after seeing women, minorities, and LGBTQ+ people struggle to get funding for their startups, she became interested in a venture capital (VC) career. Alissa, who is of Black and Puerto Rican heritage, thought she could make a bigger impact from the other side of the table. She says, “I want to become an investor. I want to support the growth at these different startups and entrepreneurial ventures.” At the time, she knew very little about finance, so the Forté MBA Financial Services FAST Track Conference attracted her attention. She recalls, “I applied to the conference because I wanted to better understand this ecosystem, so that I could see if finance is a good fit for me in the future.” The conference, usually an in-person event, was held online in 2021 because of the pandemic, which made it possible for Alissa to attend from Berlin. She says, “The Financial Services 101 event was a highlight for me. My mind was blown. It was an hour and a half, and Forté put a lot into that hour and a half.” During the event, she began to feel more confident about pursuing a financial career. She notes, “A lot of us at the conference came from backgrounds where we didn’t know anything about finance. It was an eye-opener to realize, ‘This is a possible transition and pivot in my career, and the MBA is the best place to do it.’” Advice from Industry Insiders She found it helpful to hear Ira Penza, Managing Director, Wells Fargo Securities, speak of integrating work with her personal life. Alissa says, “What I got from her was this overwhelming feeling of, ‘Yeah, I can do that. This is feasible. Living a life doing finance is a tangible thing that I can do.’” The virtual conference included a series of roundtables to showcase different industries, and Alissa appreciated the relaxed, conversational atmosphere. She says, “The platform allowed for genuine connection in a way that you wouldn't experience during the normal recruiting season.” It was an eye-opener to realize, ‘This is a possible transition and pivot in my career, and the MBA is the best place to do it.’ The Forté event not only gave her a better understanding of finance, but also clarified her career options. “The FAST Track conference helped me narrow down the types of roles that would work for me if I go into financial services, given what I'm trying to do. It helped define for me, ‘How does my background fit into a company? How can they benefit from my background? And what kind of trajectory makes sense for me in the financial services sphere?’” As Alissa looks to the future, her short-term goals include getting more experience in the financial sector and potentially becoming a venture capital associate at a social impact-driven fund so that she can support startups run by people from underrepresented communities. She says, “I want to understand how to invest and grow my wealth in a way that is sustainable. My long-term goal is to become an angel investor in the space. I would love to run a VC fund.” Want to be a part of next year’s MBA Financial Services FAST Track Conference? Sign up for updates.