Pursuing an MBA, like other high-level degrees, can be hard on women of color because often there are very few people who look like them to connect with. Besides the lucrative salary that these programs boast upon graduation, networking is an essential aspect of being an MBA-degree holder to develop partnerships and make professional connections. One woman, who recognized the challenges of being black in the world of business, saw the value in building connections with other women of color and decided to expand the concept to prevent other women from getting lost in the wild world of business.
Daria Burke quit her job at Estee Lauder as director of make-up marketing to launch Black MBA Women, a membership organization that connects Black women MBAs from the top 25 business schools in America. Among her goals for the organization is making leading black women in business more recognizable.
“I felt compelled to create an organization that catered specifically to black women from top-tier business schools, and to put a spotlight on the incredible women who hold President and C-level positions who often go unrecognized,” Burke told Black Enterprise. “For example, did you know that the CFO of Victoria’s Secret is a black woman?! And so are the CFO of Estee Lauder, the COO of Club Monaco and the CAO of Conde Nast…I could keep going!”
Burke, who graduated from New York University’s Stern School of business, says it took her four months to build up the courage and capital to start the organization. New York Life is among the founding partners for Black MBA Women.
The program also seeks to inspire women of younger generations to learn more about business school and give them a helping hand in building connections early on. Burke says that she hopes to motivate others through stories of success that have been found by leading black female executives.
“In Spring 2013, I’m launching a web series called ‘Conversations in the C-Suite’ where I will interview President and C-level women about empowerment, leadership, leveraging being ‘different’ and in general, about their career journey,” Burke said. “It is so important to tell the range of our stories, and for these amazing women— many of whom go unnoticed—to be recognized for their success and the barriers they continue to break for us to have a seat at the table.”
Although Burke is based in New York, Black MBA Women is open nationally to African-American females who are prospective MBAs or graduates from the top 25 business schools. Membership packages are reduced for students.