Camille Castro, WG’23, Fitz Reid, WG’23, Angela Romero, WG’23, and Mini Thangaswamy, WG’23, received scholarships for their commitment to advancing women in business.

This year, four first-year Wharton EMBA students were selected for Forté Foundation Fellowships. These Fellowships are prestigious, competitive awards recognizing students who exhibit exemplary leadership, represent diverse backgrounds, and have a demonstrated track record and commitment to advancing women in business. To date, the Foundation has awarded $277 million to more than 11,000 fellows in schools across the country. In addition to financial benefits, Forté scholarship recipients join a network of fellows, and are given access to professional and personal development programs as well as mentoring opportunities. Meet this year’s Forté Fellows in Wharton’s EMBA Program:

Camille Castro, WG’23

Camille’s Background

“I was born and raised in Brooklyn; however, my parents descend from Belize and Guatemala. The sacrifices my parents made created a stepping stone to build generational wealth. My motivation for an MBA is to continue my career progression and achieve my goal of leading a global department or becoming a CEO. Doing so will also allow me the benefit of expanding my opportunities. While at a Forté Foundation event, I was introduced to Wharton’s EMBA program. Intrigued by the program, I reached out to several Wharton alumni. As only a prospective student, the outreach from the current students and alumni far exceeded my expectations, as they were encouraging and willing to assist me with the admissions process. I came to Wharton’s EMBA program to be part of this community.”

What the Scholarship Represents

“At a time in some women’s lives when other responsibilities become more prevalent, higher education becomes an afterthought. The Forté scholarship encourages women to apply to business schools. Achieving an MBA increases women’s visibility in the business realm. Having a voice at an executive level is beneficial not only to the company, but the profession as a whole. This scholarship provides that opportunity.”

Supporting Women in Business

“Last year, during the national discussion about racial inequality, I spoke with leadership at my company about my personal experiences as well as the accounts I had gathered from employees on this topic. This led to a Diversity and Inclusion Committee within my department, which is focused on race, ethnicity, and gender. Many women feel they lack sponsorship for a promotion. Providing these connections and support early on will help develop a more diverse pipeline of managers and senior leaders.”

Why Diversity is Important

“Having different standpoints will help create new avenues and processes. Diversified points of views at the initial table helps avoid errors that may arise due to lack of perspective. Think about a commercial that is later deemed insensitive to women. Being proactive with conversations that include multiple groups can avoid actions that lack compassion. Diversity of thought, opinion, and experience are invaluable.”

Fitz Reid, WG’23

Fitz’s Background

“I am the child of Jamaican immigrants and worked in politics for several years before law school. As a lawyer, I worked in-house at Wells Fargo before joining the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. I came to this program to gain a broader strategic perspective and insights on organizational leadership, as well as learn how to apply a business lens to cases. I have a deep interest in working in the public interest and the government, and this program’s focus on leadership and community impact aligns with my interests.”

What the Scholarship Represents

“The legal and finance profession has not traditionally been welcoming to women, people of color, and/or the LGBTQ+ community. These professions have a long way to go in terms of equity. This scholarship eases the financial burden and encourages talented women to earn an MBA. It also helps to build a community of women who support each other.”

Supporting Women in Business

“I served as chair of the SEC Pride Alliance for four years. In that role, I worked on gender inclusion training programs to support transgender employees navigate issues they might have in the workplace. Those trainings are now being utilized by other agencies as well. I look forward to continuing to help advance women, particularly women in the LGBTQ+ community and/or women of color in the workplace. The numbers are still small, so it is important to do all we can to attract individuals who have been traditionally marginalized to the profession. I am active in diversity and inclusion work, frequently sitting on panels and participating in recruiting and mentorship.”

Why Diversity is Important

“Women are 50 percent of the population, but they are not equally represented in organizations, especially at the top of organizations. It is important for our businesses to reflect society, including women and other marginalized groups that are traditionally excluded from top leadership positions. Diversity of perspectives is the key to making a business successful, but one woman in an organization is not enough. Women’s interests are not all the same, and we need to be inclusive of women from different perspectives and backgrounds for real equity.”

Angela Romero, WG’23

Angela’s Background

“I grew up in Colombia and moved to the U.S. when I was 19 to learn English. I worked as a housecleaner and babysitter during the day and went to English classes at night. After two years, I knew enough English and could register for classes at the City College of San Francisco. Working during the day, it took three years of night classes to earn an Associate’s Degree. A teacher asked me about my plans for after graduation and walked me through how I could transition to a four-year university, an option I was not aware of. I didn’t have access to financing as an immigrant, so I kept working and registered at San Francisco State University. I was the first person to graduate college in my family and graduated at the top of my class. I always felt like I missed an opportunity to go to a top-tier school just because I didn’t have access to financing. Wharton has always been my dream b-school. On a more practical level, I came to Wharton because I wanted to round out my quantitative skills in finance and data analysis. The residential component and the ability to take classes on two coasts will allow me to not only build a strong network, but also to make lasting friendships with a superbly talented cohort of people.”

What the Scholarship Represents

“It is an honor to be selected for this coveted scholarship as well as a responsibility to continue advancing women in business. I’ve worked in technology most of my life. Tech is one of those industries that struggles with diversity. I’m already partnering with classmates Megan Helzner, WG’23, in Philadelphia and Lisa Park, WG’23, in San Francisco to create a space for women and allies to talk openly about women in business. I think building a robust community that discusses issues openly and looks to find solutions to challenges is the first step to advancing women in business.”

Supporting Women in Business

“As an immigrant and woman of color, I am keenly aware of the systems of oppression that disproportionately impede the upward trajectory of my demographic in corporate America. I co-founded the HOLA ERG at my company to empower Latinx people and women of color in the workplace. Women of color face unique challenges in the workplace so having a safe community to discuss those challenges and brainstorm solutions is key to supporting women in business. For example, during Hispanic Heritage Month in 2020, HOLA organized an event with a board member, Sabrina Simmons, former CFO of GAP, who is Latinx.” We learned about her experiences as a woman of color and she gave us thoughtful advice. 

Why Diversity is Important

“Women face structural barriers to advancing their careers like unconscious bias and lack of access to networks or sponsors. Diversity is good for business and for building a more just world. Diverse teams drive better business results because they incorporate different perspectives. Helping women advance in their careers and closing the pay gap is also critical to building an equitable world.”

Mini Thangaswamy, WG’23

Mini’s Background

“I am a first generation immigrant from India and moved to the U.S. to pursue higher education in computer engineering. Early in my career, I realized I enjoyed the craft of defining and building products and pivoted into product management. I have two young children and enjoy reading books and exploring the Bay Area with them. I came to Wharton’s EMBA program to expand my skills in strategy and to be a more impactful leader in technology. Wharton attracts exceptionally talented and diverse students and I wanted to be on my learning journey along with a driven and motivated cohort.”

What the Scholarship Represents

“I have been part of the FinTech industry for more than a decade and have seen the direct impact that technology can have in lowering disparity by democratizing financial services. I am dedicated to working with organizations that support and elevate women and create an environment in which they can thrive. The Forté Foundation and this scholarship represent that commitment to building women up.”

Supporting Women in Business

“About 35 percent of product management professionals in the U.S. are women. At mid to senior levels of management, this percentage is even lower. This means that, oftentimes, women can have isolating experiences or have problems finding mentors and sponsors to guide them through their careers. I have taken great care to be part of a community of women in similar roles to exchange best practices and brainstorm how to overcome some of the challenges women face in growing their careers. I lead the San Francisco chapter of Unity, PayPal’s Women Employee Resource Group. I also founded Women in Product’s Bay Area Peninsula Chapter. I have helped organize multiple events with over 1,000 participants and more importantly have seen the impact of creating a community of women that uplifts each other.”

Why Diversity is Important

“Diversity is not a choice – our world is diverse by nature. But we continue to see lack of inclusion and lack of representation of women leadership in the professional world. Including women and other diverse representation means we include diverse experiences, viewpoints, and perspectives into the fabric of the economy. Ultimately, diverse perspectives are profitable for the economy and help create a more equitable world.”

— By Meghan Laska

Posted: July 19, 2021

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