Hello All In community! Today’s wisdom comes to you from Elissa Sangster, Executive Director of Forte′ Foundation. Her message is perfect timing for investing in yourself in the New Year. Enjoy!

I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and I’m here to tell you my parents weren’t jazzed about that choice. I, on the other hand, thought majoring in liberal arts was fantastic! I was so engaged in my classes and loved learning about literature. But I knew my future wasn’t in teaching or writing. I knew I’d return to school to get my MBA.

And I’m so glad that I did. It was a critical step in my career trajectory and opened up a whole new world, along with a whole new network of professionals that I didn’t even know existed. Believe me when I say that you can locate your career passion in the most unexpected career turns.

Education Opens Doors for a Lifetime

I worked in the MBA education space for 10 years after finishing my MBA and I enjoyed it tremendously. I used that time to build professional relationships, get involved outside of my university in different industry organizations, and participate in every conference I could by speaking or attending.

The opportunity to lead Forté came from that network—people who trusted me and knew my capabilities selected me to take this position. Little did I know those connections would give me the most amazing opportunity of my career—leading Forté Foundation. It was a chance to broaden my skills, retain my network, create an organization from the ground up, and greatly impact women all over the world through our work.

I’m not an entrepreneur in the true sense of the word, but as I mentioned earlier Forté took me on a very similar journey—being the first employee, identifying funding partners, building a staff, creating value to our constituents, etc. And it gave me the opportunity to launch programs that impacted women from college to senior leadership.

Invest in Yourself

After 13 years in this role, my most repeated advice to women is “don’t be afraid to invest in yourself”. Sometimes this comes in the form of a financial commitment in education or professional development. Sometimes it’s time away from things that are equally important to us—family or friends—to focus on ourselves. So often women don’t take advantage of these critical opportunities. They want to put everyone else in line before them. But ultimately, that investment of time and money has big rewards in terms of career opportunity, network strength, and long-term financial reward.

At Forté we are big advocates for MBA education and think it’s a great step career-wise whether you want to be an entrepreneur or an executive at a Fortune 500 company or anywhere in between. If you are looking for resources, support, information, and a network of like-minded women, I encourage you to visit Forté at www.fortefoundation.org. Read the personal stories of women who are on similar paths to business leadership. A great place to start is our MBAs on the Move campaign. Click here

Forté launched its first ever MBA Power Pitch Competition at our annual MBA Women’s Leadership Conference last year in Austin, Texas. Read more about the winner here.

As you contemplate the next step in your career, look for places to plug-in with other men and women are share your passions and interests. Get to know people outside of your comfortable circle of friends and family. Walk into an untraveled hall at your office and introduce yourself to someone new. Take some risks and you’ll most definitely see some reward coming your way!

By Elissa Sangster
Executive Director
Forte′ Foundation

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