While 2023 marks the first time—after years of being stuck at the 8% mark—that over 10% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, that sobering statistic is representative of a persistent and problematic gender gap.
In our ongoing commitment to build community and uplift women and other underrepresented groups, the MBAchic team is thrilled to continue offering our very own Mentorship Program for MBAs and applicants. By combining monthly one-on-one mentoring sessions with workshops and programming coordinated and produced by the MBAchic team, participants are thoughtfully matched and able to fully customize their experiences. MBAchic is excited to share the stories from our talented mentorship pool over the next several months to inspire and connect the upcoming group of women rising within our community.
Meet the mentorship duo
Mentor Kene Ezeoke and mentee Roshni Patel reflect on their unique MBAchic mentorship program experiences and offer insight to anyone interested in getting matched with their perfect partner.
A Chicago Booth MBA grad, Kene currently works as a Productions Operations Lead at a multi-cloud application services and security company. Working with directors of operations and product on strategic initiatives across BIG-IP teams, she leads teams to launch new networking hardware.
Currently attending UMass Lowell to complete her MBA, Roshni Patel works as a Project Manager at an airline organization in Chicago. In her free time, she is busy traveling, reading, and spending quality time with her friends and family.
MBAchic: The MBAchic mentorship program provides a safe space for mentees and mentors to connect and support one another. Can you describe your experience being a part of this program?
Kene: I have had a great experience as a mentor and really connected with my mentee. When I was first paired with her, both of us were going through periods of change professionally and personally and I think that helped us build a good mentor / mentee relationship. We share some similarities in our professional backgrounds as women who studied one thing in college and are now working in a completely different field. I appreciate that MBAchic put effort into finding the right pairing of mentor and mentees.
Roshni: This program has been incredible for me in so many different ways. It has helped me gain confidence, broaden my perspective, and gain new insight in my field. Kene has played a huge role in helping me challenge my assumptions and has provided great feedback on my career path and goals. My network has greatly expanded since joining this program because it has given me the confidence to reach out to individuals in my field.
MBAchic: What role does mentorship play in the success of modern business women?
Kene: I feel mentorship plays an important role for the success of women in business. Mentors can advise you on how to deal with challenging work situations or be your cheerleaders when you are making a major decision. Mentors can provide the support and inspiration to help build our confidence as women in business. Mentors can also be great non-judgmental sounding boards while keeping you accountable. I think mentorship is important for women entering business but also staying in business and taking on more leadership roles.
Roshni: Mentorship can play an important role in the success of women in business. Building networks, guidance, empowerment, skills, and confidence are some of the reasons why mentorships are important. Despite the significant progress towards gender equality, women are still underrepresented in opportunities that are in leadership roles so mentorships are a great way to try and reduce the challenge.
MBAchic: Roshni, can you describe an obstacle you faced and how your MBAchic mentorship relationship helped you to overcome it?
Roshni: I lost my job in August 2022 and it was a very challenging time. I reached out to Kene for guidance and she was unbelievably helpful in finding a new role and what I should be looking for in my next role. If it wasn’t for her, I would be applying to jobs that I would be overqualified for but would be too scared to apply for roles that I think I would not be able to land. Even though the program has ended, I still reach out to her. I think I have won the lottery when it comes to having a mentor because she is so wise and humble. She offers great feedback and goes over and beyond to help me.
MBAchic: Kene, if you were to get your MBA all over again, what would you do differently and why?
Kene: I probably would have gotten my MBA earlier than I did. I was very close to not even applying to business school because I already worked at a large post-MBA employer and the MBA seemed “unnecessary” (that was from a manager at work) for me. I delayed making a decision on applying because I was worried about finances, studying for the GMAT, debating part-time vs full-time. All of it. From the time when I seriously thought about going to business school to the time when I actually submitted my first application, it was a good two years spent deciding. Ironically, two years is the length of a full-time MBA. I had conversations with a lot of people and did a lot of reflection before applying to a full-time MBA program. Now, post-MBA, I wish I had applied sooner.
With that said, I did learn and grew so much in business school that I know it wasn’t too late. I am glad for the experience and am happy that I was able to push past the doubts and concerns.
MBAchic: Roshni, there are many styles of feedback. What’s your preferred style and what areas of school/life/career do you seek the most support and guidance in from your mentors/those you trust and respect?
Roshni: I think my career is where I need the most support and guidance because I tend to question myself and lack confidence. My style of feedback is constructive and actionable. I like when the feedback comes from a different perspective from mine because in a way it allows me to grow.
MBAchic: Kene what’s your top advice for prospective mentors?
Kene: My advice for prospective mentors is to practice active listening and be open to learning from their mentees so information doesn’t just flow from mentor to mentee. I think a good mentor/mentee relationship is built on partnership and communication. Try to learn about your mentee beyond just their work or school so the relationship feels more natural and supportive. Also, celebrate any wins!
MBAchic: Roshni what’s your best advice to interested mentees?
Roshni: My biggest advice would be to be open with your mentor and the feedback they may provide. It can be challenging to open up to someone about your goals and aspirations however, trusting your mentor can go a long way. In addition – take initiative, set goals, and prepare.
Become a part of MBAchic’s mentorship program
Whether you’re seeking guidance or you’re ready to share your career wisdom and create a space you wish you had earlier on in your professional journey, the opportunity to learn more about our program is currently open. Sign up to receive first notice to join the second Cohort of our flagship program, launching soon.
The MBAchic community is rooted in the belief that we are stronger together. The more accessible we can make education, the more women we can help propel into business school, the C-suite and positions of leadership. Through our dynamic and carefully curated mentorship program, mentees can learn more about the vital parts of a strong MBA application, how to make the most of the time in business school, and how to pave a successful professional path and life. Mentors have the rewarding chance to act as sounding boards and provide fresh perspectives, guidance, and support to women who are navigating the challenges of business school and ambitious careers that follow.
In addition to lifetime membership in a private group and forum with the entire Cohort, participants gain exclusive access to workshops and guest speakers on topics such as:
- applying to business school
- making the most of your time in business school
- funding business school and life beyond
- interviewing for new jobs and the MBA
- salary negotiation
- career development and coaching
- advocating for yourself in your job search
- branding and online persona development
- and more — including networking and recruiting opportunities, teambuilding, events and more as they launch
So, what are you waiting for? Gain the knowledge, skills and network you need to thrive — in business school and beyond. Learn more about joining Cohort #2 of our mentorship program here.