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Forté fellows at Rotman unlock their potential, step up as champions for other women

April 19, 2018

Ariana SchumacherThe most profound lesson that Ariane Schumacher (MBA ’18) learned during her time at Rotman was that she belongs — in the MBA classroom, in business meetings and in her chosen career.

“Deep down I knew I was capable of many things, but I couldn’t quite harness that ambition and energy in an effective way,” says Schumacher, who is headed to CIBC’s Graduates Matter Rotation Program when she graduates in June. “Rotman was a catalyst in unlocking that potential.”

The Rotman School has seen a healthy influx of students like Schumacher — women who are intelligent, driven and poised to become the future leaders in business.

Committed to developing the female talent pipeline, Rotman is proud to call itself a Forté Foundation sponsor school. In the past two years alone, the School has awarded almost two million dollars in scholarship funds to more than 50 outstanding female MBA students.

These MBA candidates, also known as Forté fellows, are expected to be leaders at Rotman and many assume executive positions with student organizations, such as the Women in Management Association. They represent the School at conferences organized by the Forté Foundation, an international organization aimed at increasing the number of women applying to and enrolling in business school programs.

“We’re helping women feel more comfortable in their careers.”

– Ariane Schumacher, MBA ’18

Through initiatives like the Forté program, high-potential women at Rotman are acquiring the confidence and knowledge to take on major management challenges and act as champions for other capable women.

Advocating for young women

For Schumacher, who is a Forté fellow, an important component of her Rotman experience is showing other women that they belong, both in their academic programs and in their chosen fields.

During her time at the School, she and other Forté women helped develop the LINKS Mentorship Program. The program, founded by five fellows from the class of 2017, matches women enrolled in undergraduate studies at the university with one male and one female MBA student.

The program has been extremely successful; many mentees have described feeling more self-assured and a few have gone on to secure full-time jobs thanks to guidance from their mentors.

All of the hard work has been worth it, says Schumacher. Recently, she saw first-hand how one mentor pair convinced a hesitant mentee that she could succeed in a rigorous graduate program.

“It’s rewarding to know that we’re helping women feel more comfortable in their careers graduate programs like the MBA."

Leading change at the Rotman School

Juliana LuqueOther Forté fellows, including Juliana Luque-Cala (MBA ’18), have concentrated their efforts on working with women and allies in the MBA program.

Luque-Cala came to Rotman from Colombia, where she had been working as a management consultant and intrapreneur. While there, she had served as a board member with the Women for Colombia Foundation, supporting the group’s efforts in encouraging teenage girls from impoverished communities to pursue STEM careers.

“When women thrive, communities thrive.”

– Juliana Luque-Cala, MBA ’18

She brought her substantial outreach experience to the School, where she served as VP, Development for the Women in Management Association. In this role, she helped coordinate events and workshops on emotional intelligence and mastering negotiation techniques. Recently, the group held their very successful second annual conference, focused on designing actionable initiatives for gender equality and change.

The motivation behind this work has always been clear.

“When women thrive, communities thrive,” says Luque-Cala.

A key lesson she’s taken away from working with students across Rotman and on WIMA projects is that “modern leaders have generosity and curiosity as their key pillars. They act as role models and are not afraid to fail.”

She’ll be applying this approach to her next role, as a member RBC’s technology and operations team, and future work involving the advancement of women and girls.

Looking inward

The Forté experience at School also gives many women the chance to reflect on their personal and professional priorities, and consider new careers and opportunities.

“I entered the MBA program with the purpose of acquiring a business mindset, so that I could go on and effect change and advance social agendas,” explains Rachel Qiu (MBA ’16), who had been working as a senior auditor in China before going to business school.

“To me, being a Forté fellow isn’t just a label, but a call to action.”

– Rachel Qiu (MBA ’16)

Out of all the graduate program that offered her admission and entrance scholarships, Qiu chose Rotman because of the Forté fellowship.

In turn, the MBA experience at the School inspired her to think bigger and more broadly when it came to her career and social goals.

Upon graduating, she accepted a position with Johnson & Johnson and today uses her quantitative background to evaluate the sales and performance measures for the company. She works with leaders at the organization to develop strategies on how to meet future goals.

At the same time, she’s still actively involved with social causes. Most recently, she was in Tanzania, volunteering her time by hosting workshops aimed at supporting local entrepreneurs. She wants to see more women and girls involved in economic development there and in leadership roles here in Canada.

“To me, being a Forté fellow isn’t just a label, but a call to action,” she explains. “We need to create platforms for women to gain access to educational opportunities and succeed.”

Written by Rebecca Cheung | More Student Stories »