Sitting in the library at Imperial College London one early morning, I received an e-mail inviting me to attend the Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference in Seattle. I was in the middle of heaps of work for my electives but I still thought of taking a look at the speaker’s list. Wait, Amy Cuddy as the opening speaker!! My heart almost skipped a beat and in that moment of excitement I booked my tickets for the conference. I’m a fan of Amy Cuddy and had watched her Ted talk multiple times. And that’s how our journey to the conference began.
After weeks of running around for tickets and organising my visa in the middle of the most hectic month for me, I finally landed in Seattle. I was welcomed with lots of rain, but living in London makes you immune to the grey skies and the rain. Joining my class mates Leena and Suzy in our slightly smelly yet cosy Airbnb apartment made me cheer up after 10 hours of flying and grey weather. We caught up with couple of admitted students on the Full-Time MBA programme at Imperial and the rest of the Imperial team. Chatting with the incoming students made me nostalgic. It was only a while ago when we were in their place and the year has gone by really quickly.
We were welcomed with free bananas outside the Amazon Office, where the conference was taking place, while we queued for our security checks. As we entered the meeting room I was a little overwhelmed at the sight of so many up-and-coming women business leaders. You don’t really see over 600 women together in a room every day. Unfortunately, Amy Cuddy didn’t make it for the opening session due to a knee surgery, but I wasn’t too disappointed because we had the popular American TV journalist Claire Shipman open the session for us. It was very interesting to hear her talk about how even she had to put in an effort to make her voice heard on screen amidst discussions with male speakers.
My favourite of all speakers, however, was Ann Marie Campbell, Executive Vice President of US Stores at The Home Depot. She had started working in Home Depot as a cashier and had risen to her current role. With an amazing sense of humour she gave us several honest examples from both her professional and personal journey. Every example had a lesson to learn from and each of them made me admire her a little more.
My trip to the conference is definitely one of the highlights of my year at Imperial. The inspirational speakers, an opportunity to meet business school students from around the world, and a chance to visit another country. The conference was a great experience and I don’t think I can thank the Business School enough for the opportunity.
Each year, Imperial College Business School offers a stipend to female admitted and current students to attend the Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference.
Nicole Suen and Katie Routledge attended the Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference as admitted students on the Full-Time MBA at Imperial.
Nicole says, “It was a fantastic experience to connect with so many smart and ambitious women. Claire Shipman’s keynote speech was my favourite, and I will always remember that women should be confident, and the definition of confidence is the ability to transform our thoughts into actions.”
Kate says, “The Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference was an inspiring and empowering two days listening to, and networking with, current business leaders and other ambitious women looking to close the gender gap in the business leadership world. I was lucky enough to meet fellow Imperial College Business School students and also numerous other women from around Europe and North America. As an incoming student looking to specialise in finance and move into a finance role after my MBA, the Corporate Finance and Financial Services panels provided valuable information and insight into the different types of roles and career paths available.”