Impact Stories

Forté MBA Forums Gave Alison Shottek a New Perspective on Her Pharmaceutical Career

A few months ago, Alison Shottek didn’t know what an MBA was — but a Forté MBA Forum answered her questions and helped her plan for the next phase of her career. Alison was working as a bench scientist, conducting gene therapy research in a lab, when she began exploring other potential paths in the pharmaceutical industry.

She used LinkedIn to reach out to people in different roles. She says, “I started messaging them and chatting with them, getting to know their background, trying to learn what exactly they do on a day-to-day basis, and how they broke into it.” When Alison expressed interest in transitioning to the commercial side of the pharmaceutical industry, one of her contacts asked if she had considered an MBA. She said, “No, what’s an MBA?”

Typically, if a bench scientist goes back to school, it’s for a PhD, so business school wasn’t on Alison’s radar. She started researching her options, but says, “For me, in the beginning, the process was so daunting.”

A few weeks later, while reading about MBA programs online, she came across a link to the virtual Forté MBA Forums. The next event was only a few days away, so she registered. Forté MBA Forums, held annually, are free events for women considering an MBA. They include presentations from top business schools, insights from admissions professionals, financing tips, and an opportunity to connect live with representatives from participating schools.

Explore Multiple MBA Programs at One Event

Attending a Forté MBA Forum gave Alison the information — and the support — she needed to move forward on her MBA journey. She already had a few potential schools in mind, and she learned more about them at the event. She says, “It was awesome to be able to network with the schools face-to-face and ask very specific questions.”

What’s really special is being able to connect with the schools that you might not know about, and learn all about what they have to offer.

Each MBA Forum includes a School and Exhibitor Fair designed to help students find the business schools that best meet their needs. “It’s sort of like entering a breakout room with your specific schools of interest,” Alison recalls, “I was able to turn on my camera and chat with the admissions counselors. I got to have a nice one-on-one conversation with the admissions counselor at what is my top school at the moment.”

The Forté event also expanded the list of MBA programs that Alison is considering. She says, “What’s really special is being able to connect with the schools that you might not know about, and learn all about what they have to offer.” Talking with various admissions representatives gave her a sense of what life is like on each campus, including the extracurriculars available to MBA students.  She says, “I got to know more about the towns that these schools are in, and I was like, ‘I think I could live in a place like that.'”

Connect With Women Who Share Your Goals

At the MBA Forum, Alison networked with women interested in pursuing an MBA and learned where they are in the process. She says, “It was great to meet other women like me that were still trying to figure it out.” Some of the women already had a clearly defined path, and she notes, “It was nice to hear from them, too, about what their top schools are, what their questions are, and what are they thinking about when it comes to picking the best school.” Alison found the MBA Forum so informative that she plans to attend a second one, so that she can learn more about online MBA programs.

It was great to meet other women like me that were still trying to figure it out.

As she looks to the future, she feels confident that earning an MBA will help her achieve her career goals. She’s interested in how new medications move from the research lab into a patient’s hands, and says, “That’s where marketing and business comes in, because you have to think of it from a business strategy perspective and not just a disease-focused perspective.”

Alison is just beginning her MBA journey, but she is already encouraging other women to join her on this path. She says, “I tell women that are a little bit earlier in their careers, that are trying to figure what’s next for them long-term, to check out Forté.”

Considering an MBA? Register for an upcoming Forté MBA Forum.

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