Nov 09, 2017

The Tuck WIB Conference: Where it all Began

Annie Johnson T'19By Annie Johnson T'19

When I arrived at Tuck for the Women in Business Conference (WIBC) last year as a prospective student, I wasn’t totally sold on getting an MBA. While I appreciated the long-term value, it was not the usual path in my industry (fine arts) and, truthfully, I wasn’t sure an MBA admissions office would be sold on me! One of the conference’s first events was one that intimidated me the most: a mock class. I doubted I would be able to participate as the subject, marketing, was interesting to me but also completely foreign.

Professor Kusum Ailawadi’s class completely altered my attitude. I not only followed along (a true testament to her skill as a professor), but sat on the edge of my seat as she discussed marketing practices I had encountered in my day-to-day life, but had never developed the technical vocabulary to truly appreciate or analyze.

A year later, things came full circle as I walked a conference attendee to Professor Ailawadi’s mock class during this year’s WIBC. As a T’19 co-chair, I spent the past few weeks supporting the four T’18 co-chairs as they put the finishing touches on the weekend’s events after months of planning. The theme they selected for the weekend, “Embrace the Journey,” rang especially true to me.

As many do, my journey at Tuck began with a fair amount of trepidation. But, as I went through the WIBC events, eyes and ears open, my fear waned and excitement grew. A few days after the conference, I told my mother over lunch: “I have to go to Tuck.” The next months were filled with anticipation, as I lived the typical MBA applicant double-life, working by day and putting the finishing touches on my application by night. When March rolled around, whether I would get an MBA was no longer a question, it was just a matter of when and where. Luckily, Tuck picked me too, and I spent the summer preparing for the next leg of my journey in Hanover.

Though I knew the rigor of Tuck’s curriculum would present a special challenge for me given my liberal arts (emphasis on the “arts”) background, I am not sure anything could have prepared me for the first weeks of Fall A. Statistics might as well have been written in cuneiform, and the entire semester of Introductory Economics I took as a college freshman was covered in the first ten minutes of our Managerial Economics class. Yet, I woke up every morning eager to learn more. The professors made even the most difficult material digestible and engaging, and my classmates were generous with their time outside of class, instructing me in running regressions, building SWOT models, and calculating supply and demand curves in their limited spare time.

Now, well into life at Tuck and Fall B, opportunities for growth continue to present themselves in numerous and unanticipated ways. At Tuck we are asked to sit for exams, attend recruiting events, and partake in a slew of other typical MBA activities. But we are also asked to reflect, to collaborate, to have lunch with our professors, and to plan weekends promoting women’s participation in business. My Tuck journey is still unfolding, but I am glad I had the courage to embrace the uncertainty of the MBA application process, and that Tuck offered me a forum to safely explore what it would be like to be a woman at Tuck and in business.