Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Consortium and Kelley: Enhancing Diversity in Business Starts Here

by Ruby Jones, MBA’18
Consortium Fellow
Winner of the Wallace L. Jones Fellowship

Ruby Jones
On Tuesday, March 8, I received a beautiful cream and crimson box announcing my acceptance to the Kelley School of Business as a Consortium Fellow. Four hours later, I quit my job.

Quitting was not on my “To Do” list for the day, but I was so overcome with emotion and excitement that I couldn’t wait any longer. I should clarify that by “quit”, I mean I gave a four-month notice, but after nine years with the same employer four months can seem like a short notice. As word of my departure spread, I was bombarded with questions: What is the Consortium? What is a Consortium Fellow? Why an MBA? Why now?

What is the Consortium?

The mission of The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management is to enhance diversity in business education and leadership by helping to correct the serious underrepresentation of African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans in business schools and corporate management.  

In its 50th year, the Consortium assists in recruiting promising students, of any race, who show a commitment to its mission, to attend 18 of the top business schools. In exchange for their commitment, students receive access to a close-knit on-campus family, a powerful network of more than 8,500 alumni, early exposure to internship recruiters and, for many, full-tuition fellowships from their respective universities.

What qualities define a Consortium Fellow?

My commitment to the Consortium’s mission began before my knowledge of the organization. As a child, I pledged a portion of my allowance each year to support the United Negro College Fund. Although I did not fully understand the impact, I knew I was helping students who looked like me attend college and join the workforce. This support of diversity grew throughout my undergraduate studies, AmeriCorps Vista service and work experience.

At Kelley, this commitment has continued through accepting a leadership role on campus with the Curriculum Advisory Committee and participation in Kelley Consortium activities. In the coming months, there will be various opportunities to assist Consortium candidates in navigating the admissions process. Although work is abundant and time is limited, I will make myself available to those candidates, because the ability to build and support diverse leadership is critical for future success.


Why an MBA?

The short answer to every “why” is exposure and opportunity. After a steady career in the nonprofit industry, I could identify the things that propelled me from bed in the morning and kept me engaged throughout the day. I thrived on connecting the bigger picture and solving mission critical problems. And while I loved working at a regional nonprofit, I felt compelled to make a bigger impact and expand my reach.

My work experience developed a myriad of transferable skills, but there were still other technical skills and knowledge necessary to make the transition. For me, an MBA was the best way to bridge the gap—two years to focus on the latest data analytics tools, marketing concepts and corporate strategies. It is truly an experience unlike any other. The opportunity to network and grow with the sharpest millennials and future leaders is invaluable.

Why now?

Honestly, there is never a good time to uproot your life and pull yourself out of the workforce for two years. But the longer you put it off the riskier it gets—your family grows, your income grows, you get a couple of promotions and change is so much harder. A year ago, I had not planned to join the Class of 2018. I was simply exploring options and gathering information. The more I connected with students, visited classrooms and looked at post MBA job listings, my excitement grew and the desire to start intensified.

As I looked at my career trajectory I felt a strong sense of now or never, so I took the leap and applied to the Kelley School of Business. And on an unseasonably warm winter day, that cream and crimson box arrived on my doorstep announcing, “Congratulations on arriving at this Kelley moment.”

Creating real change

When I was initially accepted to Kelley as a Consortium Fellow and was asked the Whats and Whys, I was able to stumble through answers by regurgitating some key lines from my admissions essays. But now, only two months into this experience, the significance is already so much clearer. I understand even better the impact and connectedness of the Consortium and the MBA experience.

In a country that continues to struggle with issues of equity, diverse representation at every level is key.  Being the change you want to see is not enough. True impact comes from a position of power and influence. After two rigorous years of projects, exams and presentations, MBAs are catapulted into leadership roles across the globe, perfectly positioned to make a real difference. 

This fall, Kelley celebrates its 50th year of Consortium participation—yes, Kelley was there from the beginning as one of three founding schools. As we approach the celebration weekend on Oct. 7-8, I can’t help but think about my future support of the Consortium’s mission and Kelley’s commitment. How will I use my MBA to assist the next generation of diverse Kelley leaders?


How will you?

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