Recap of the 2017 Forte MBALaunch Conference in Houston

Guest Post from Renata, Executive Assistant for The Art of Applying 

Recap of the 2017 Forte MBALaunch Conference in Houston

TAOA Executive Assistant, Renata

Hi, I’m Renata. I’m Kaneisha’s Executive Assistant, and this is my first guest post for The Art of Applying blog. Today’s post is about me and Kaneisha’s day in Houston with the women of the Forte MBALaunch program. 

Two weeks ago, Kaneisha, her mom, and I traveled from Austin to Houston to take part in Forte’s MBALaunch conference. The Art of Applying is one of the partner organizations of Forté. Since Kaneisha and I work out of Austin, Kaneisha signed up to lead an Admissions Roundtable session at the Houston conference. With women on average making up 34% of MBA programs and fewer than 4% of Fortune 500 CEOs (source), Forté has been a vital resource for moving women into the MBA pipeline. Kaneisha wanted to help advance Forté’s awesome work of empowering women, and so off we went to spend our Friday providing free consulting and advice for over 60 MBA-destined women of varying personal and professional backgrounds.

What is Forté?:

Forté is a nonprofit consortium of leading companies and top business schools working together to launch women into fulfilling, significant careers through access to business education, opportunities, and a community of successful women.

Let’s begin our trip!

Kaneisha is very happy that we’ve arrived at the hotel.

Thursday Afternoon

We arrived in Houston on Friday afternoon. Upon our arrival, we stopped to grab some yummy food at a new Vietnamese restaurant and then headed over to our hotel, Hotel Indigo. The rest of the evening was spent doing a couple more hours of client work, watching some TV and then catching some shut-eye in anticipation of the busy morning ahead with Forté.

Friday Morning (also my birthday!)

Kaneisha, her mom Mrs. Debra, and myself met in the hotel lobby for breakfast. I was surprised to be gifted a birthday card from Kaneisha once I arrived at the table. (I turned 27!) After we finished, Mrs. Debra dropped us off at the conference venue.

Breakfast at Hotel Indigo. Mrs. Debra on the left; Kaneisha on the right.

Renata (left) & Kaneisha (right). Happy Birthday, Renata!

Friday Morning with Forté

Storytelling about conflictWe arrived at the conference venue, headed to the Forte meeting room and were quickly settled at our table. It was already occupied by four other young, diverse women that were just as eager to get to know us as the other 60 or so girls in the room. Angela Guido, founder of Career Protocol and former consultant for the Boston Consulting Group, was the first speaker we heard. She spoke on a number of subtopics within the main topic of Storytelling. I really enjoyed her presentation, and took a ton of notes on how to determine what needs to be told in your story, a four-part framework for storytelling (and how to do it all in just two minutes!), and how to effectively talk about failure and conflict.

After all was said and done, Angela’s final message was,  “Life is about conflict and growth and it is a person’s response to failure and conflict that reveals to others what they are truly capable of.” 

Friday Afternoon with Forté

Kaneisha (left) sharing strategies for choosing the best schools with Forté MBA Launchers

After lunch, there were three more sessions: an Admissions Insights Panel; an Admissions Roundtable; and Tips for Success from a Forté alumni.

The Admissions Insights Panel was led by six women admissions representatives from various schools. They answered audience questions related to the GMAT, essays, resumes and volunteer/work experience. There was a lot of great advice given out, but the main thing I gained from it, (that I feel Kaneisha says all the time), is that “you are not your GMAT score”; and that the admissions department closely reads your essays, so be sure to share whatever you think they need to know and share it well!

The Admissions Roundtable is where Kaneisha was finally able to step in and shine doing what she does best: giving great advice that can save you precious money, time and energy, and maybe even change your life. The topic for Kaneisha’s table was “School Choice.” How it worked was that she had 15 minutes to talk to around 12 conference attendees about strategies for choosing the best school for them. Some of Kaneisha’s main talking points were:

  • One should apply to about 6-7 schools; more if their GMAT scores aren’t very high (below 650) to give yourself more options; (maybe) less if your scores are amazing (700+).
  •  Everyone who is eligible (U.S. citizens and permanent residents of any background) should apply to business school via The Consortium. You can apply to up to 6 schools through the Consortium for one combined fee that is lower than if you paid the individual fees at each of your 6 schools.
  • She stressed that it is okay to be a nontraditional student applying to grad school because she was one herself. She applied to Harvard with no work experience, a 620 GMAT score and no quantitative coursework under her belt. She is now a graduate of both Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School, and the successful founder and CEO of The Art of Applying.

Tips for Success was the final talk of the day led by Forté alumna, Kendall T., who is now an MBA student at Rice University. She spoke on what her experience was when she was applying for business school. Advice she shared with the MBA Launchers was:

  • Have a support system. Stay connected with the people you meet at events and conferences related to applying to business school.
  • Don’t choose your MBA prep season as a season to also tackle other challenges in your life such as quitting smoking or running a marathon, because you need to focus your time and energy on applying to business school.
  • Don’t be afraid to change your strategy to best tackle the GMAT because your time is precious. If one test prep company isn’t helping you achieve the results you need, switch to another one.
  • Don’t accept well-meaning but disconnected advice from people that aren’t familiar with your particular MBA application process.
  • Make sure your vision for your life is your vision and not someone else’s vision for you.

Why was this trip necessary?

Kaneisha chatting with an attendee

It is time to drastically increase women’s representation in top business schools and among corporate leaders. Kaneisha wants to make sure that she and The Art of Applying team is helping encourage women to apply to and gain admission to top business schools.

As a result of our great experience there, we want to emphasize that if you’re a woman planning to apply to an MBA (or a woman wondering if she should), check out Forté at to learn more about how they can help you achieve your b-school dreams. Their next MBALaunch program for pre-MBA women starts early 2018, but you have to apply and be accepted to the program first. The application deadlines are in mid-October.

As always, we here at The Art of Applying are happy to help any of you ladies (and gents!) apply to your dream school as well. Please share your comments and questions about our services below!

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