Powerful conversations: FOSTERing MBA Access

Fostering mba access

Interview with Junny Kim, 1st-year MBA, Class of 2016. FOSTERing MBA Access is a student-run series of events sponsored by the Diversity In Business Club, Women In Business Club, and Out In Business Club. The events are dedicated to increasing awareness and access to MBA-level education in underrepresented communities.

What was the FOSTERing MBA Access event like?

The first part was a diversity panel, where they had a mix of current students, alumni, and evening students. I volunteered for check-in so I didn’t attend that event, but they made sure that they had people in that panel that represented different members of the Foster class: people of different gender, ethnicities, sexual orientation, and marital status. I attended the second part of the event, where they had a mixer and keynote speaker. Colleen Fukui-Sketchley was the keynote speaker from Nordstrom, which was actually the main reason I went. I had met her previously in the context of working for Nordstrom. She is the Director of Diversity Affairs, and she was just recently awarded the UW Odegaard award, which is given to leaders in the community who promote diversity.

After the mixer portion, she gave a talk about the importance of diversity in the workplace. She spoke about what we can do to promote diversity in the workplace, and about her role. It was interesting to hear about her role, because she has her hands in so many different departments. It’s not just about hiring diverse people, it’s also about making sure that they are serving a diverse customer. She gave this example about how she’s even involved in decisions like making sure that they have the right kind of foundation or pantyhose for every person!

Colleen Fukui-Sketchley. Image Credit: Anil Kapathi

]1 Colleen Fukui-Sketchley. Image Credit: Anil Kapathi

Wait, how did you meet Colleen?

I met her because Career Management set up Executive Office Hours, and this was in the midst of my internship search. (note: The Executive Office Hours is an opportunity for Foster MBA students to meet one-on-one with business leaders in the Seattle area.) I saw that she was from Nordstrom, and Nordstrom was coming for on-campus recruiting and I wanted to explore retail again. So we scheduled a meeting through that program and had a chance to have a one-to-one talk. She talked about what she did at Nordstrom as the Director of Diversity Affairs, but then the conversation morphed into a discussion about what it means to be a female executive or an Asian American executive. So we met in that context, and then all this internship stuff happened. In the midst of that, I had a chance to get in touch with her and meet up again because we had a great time chatting and I wanted to connect with her again.

When we scheduled that second meeting, I had completed my Nordstrom interview but wasn’t offered the position yet…I wanted to ask her what I could do better next time. Promptly after scheduling the meeting, I fortunately was offered an internship position, so then the request changed to “I got the position, but can we still meet to celebrate…and also to meet again?”

That second conversation was interesting because at this point, the focus wasn’t so much on career. Instead, we talked mostly about being a woman, wanting to be a mother and to have a family, what it is to be an Asian American woman in the business world, and so on. She gave me a lot of advice. It was interesting to talk about that with someone that was kind of in my shoes: of being an Asian American woman who wants to be professional, and having to figure out how to do that in the business world where women are a minority. It was a really interesting discussion to hear her standpoint on things that she had done. I think there are things that women have to be more conscientious of to assert ourselves and ensure we are not undermined (more so than men) and it was really interesting to hear about that and what it’s like to be a working mom and how she manages the work-life balance of it all.

That’s amazing! So what made you sign up for this event?

Well, firstly, I wanted to support Colleen! Being Asian American and being a woman, I’m a minority in the business world, and I thought it was great they were bringing her in as the keynote speaker for the event. I also wanted to be involved in the Diversity in Business club in general and that was part of the reason behind going, too. I wanted to support these types of events that help get the conversation started. We all have areas of improvement when it comes to diversity and being inclusive. I want to contribute, even if it’s simply checking people in at an event, being there to talk to prospective students, or getting the word out and encouraging people to talk in this safe environment.

What really resonated with you about this event?

I think more than anything, what resonated with me was this idea that as MBA students, we organized an event where people were specifically there to talk about diversity in the workplace. Looking around the room, there was a mix of current students, prospective students, alumni, as well as professors…it was this mix of people, not just in the sense of typical diversity that people think of, but different roles and different places in their life. It was great to see all those people come together behind this cause of “what does diversity mean” and “how can we promote diversity in the workplace” and make it a better place. I think it was really a great experience to have that and I’m grateful for the clubs that helped organize this event!

junny kim Prior to the MBA, Junny Kim worked in healthcare as a clinic coordinator at the Evidence Based Treatment Centers of Seattle. For more about Junny, you can view her professional profile at LinkedIn