With Mother’s Day coming up, this week’s show features a mother, MBA student, and entrepreneur.
Meet Divinity Matovu, founder of MBA Mama [1:04]
Divinity grew up in Wisconsin, attended USC (where she majored in Political Science and African American Studies), and got bit by the social impact and start-up bug. She’s now studying at Wharton as a member of the class of 2017. Her writing has appeared on Forté Foundation’s Business 360 Blog, Fortune Online, the Wharton Journal, and of course the MBA Mama blog. Welcome!
What did she do in between USC and Wharton, and what was her path to b-school? [1:55]
She moved to Africa! While an undergrad, she studied in Kenya – her first time living abroad. When she graduated, she moved to Uganda, planning to work for a youth foundation there and ultimately look for jobs in Kenya. As it turned out, she stayed in Uganda, co-founded a youth development organization, met and married her now ex-husband, and ran a non-profit with him. Her experience leading the non-profit there is what ultimately made her decide to pursue b-school: she realized she needed to develop her skills. She returned to the US (pregnant with her daughter), worked for a while, and then started the process of applying to b-school. She started MBA Mama during her application process.
What is MBA Mama? [5:47]
It’s an online platform to empower women to navigate family and career strategy. They provide tools and resources to help women be successful in the workplace and at home.
Why did she start MBA Mama? [7:50]
She did a couple of pre-MBA programs: the Forte Foundation’s MBA Launch Program and the MLT MBA Prep Program. In the MLT program, a male colleague commented that he felt inspired by watching her go through the process as a single mother. She realized that there isn’t a lot of visibility: you don’t often see mothers on campus. So she bought the MBA Mama domain name, envisioning it (originally) as a blog. She met her cofounder (now an MBA student at Duke) and they’ve been continuing to work on the site and the business model.
What products are they planning? [10:40]
Some ideas are partnerships, such as test prep and loan financing. But they’re also designing an innovative childcare solution – it will be tech enabled, taking advantage of the sharing economy. And they’re working on a paid coaching platform matching senior women with younger women (around career and family issues). They also want a coaching platform for aspiring entrepreneurs. They hope to launch these over the next 18 months.
What did she hope to get out of her MBA? [13:00]
She wanted to develop her finance knowledge. Also: boost her emotional intelligence and leadership skills.
The hardest part of the application process? [15:10]
The GMAT. She took it 3 times. Partly this was because she was going through a difficult time – going through a divorce – and it was difficult to find time to study.
Wharton’s TBD- her experience [16:45]
She found it hard to prepare, because she wasn’t sure what to expect, but the interview itself was smooth sailing. Who you are comes out.
The most difficult aspect of the interview process? [17:35]
In her personal interview, she had a hard time reading the interviewer.
She balances a lot of roles: leader of multiple student groups (African Student Association, Wharton Impact Investing Partners), leader of a business, student, single mother. How does she do it? [20:00]
She relies on so many people throughout each day: her nanny, friends, classmates, professors. Her classmates have been supportive. Her daughter sometimes sits in on group meetings. Her professors are very supportive and helpful.
What’s she enjoying most about Wharton? [22:10]
Her classes- particularly her courses on entrepreneurship. Students are really supportive of each other and she’s learning valuable skills – and putting them straight to work on MBA Mama.
Her summer plans [24:30]
Internship in private wealth management
Her post-MBA plans [25:00]
She plans a career in finance. MBA Mama is not in conflict with that in any way. She hopes to build up MBA Mama over the next couple of years, and sees potential for it to grow into an asset that major players in the childcare space may want to acquire.
Integrating social impact and finance [26:10]
She wants to do work that aligns with both – she wants a foot in the social impact space whatever her career function.
Her biggest challenge [27:40]
Last April 25, her mother passed away. She thought about deferring – moving cross country seemed daunting, and a lot of the money she’d saved for the move had gone to funeral expenses. But a Wharton alum reached out and inspired her to continue on the path her mom would have wanted.
Her advice to women/mothers considering an MBA [31:20]
1. See yourself as a value-add to any b-school you would go to. Being a woman who has responsibilities to children/family is a strength.
2. You need to have a plan and be tenacious.
3. Once you get in, speak up! Be confident and make sure your voice is heard. And MBA Mama is happy to help chart the path.
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