MBA JumpStart

mba.JPGby Pamela Weinsaft (New York City)

MBA JumpStart was created to address the lack of diversity and under-representation of minorities in the consulting and financial services industries and to “bridge the gap between minority talent entering top business schools and firms actively seeking to increase minority representation.”

The program’s founders, Elton Ndoma-Ogar and John T. Burt, both Duke MBA graduates, launched their program in 2004 as “an innovative solution for increasing minority MBA’s access to career opportunities in consulting and investment banking.” The program helps consulting and financial services firms “identify, educate and recruit minority talent at top-tier MBA programs.” According to Mr. Burt, women make up around forty percent of the program’s enrollment.

The timing couldn’t be better.

A research report released in October by Catalyst states “Securities firms are giving increasing levels of attention to workforce diversity and creating inclusive work cultures to attract and retain top talent, impact the bottom line, and court clients across geographies. With changing demographics, talent is no longer just white men, aged 25 to 40. In fact, white men represent only 17 percent of the global talent pool of people with graduate education. Furthermore, an increasing number of minority women and men are pursuing Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in business…”

Another study by the Graduate Management Admission Council, published in September, revealed that female enrollment in MBA programs is up from 57 percent last year to 65 percent this year. Women make up 65% of the applicants in part-time master’s level accounting programs, and nearly 50% of applicants in other master’s level business programs.

The GMAC report also shows that “while the average number of applications to full-time MBA programs rose by 10 percent in 2008, the average number of applications to full-time programs from women grew just 8.5 percent. The percentage of women applying to either full-time or accelerated MBA and EMBA programs has essentially been flat for the last three years.” According to the report, women also make up slightly less than a third of the applicants to part-time lockstep MBA programs (31 percent), full-time traditional MBA programs (30 percent), and full-time accelerated MBA programs (29 percent). Executive MBA program applications from men also far outnumber those from women, 77% to 23% respectively.

MBA JumpStart’s premier program is an intensive two and a half day program known as the Diversity Forum each summer, before the participants matriculate at their B-schools. According to the organization’s website, the Diversity Forum “educates participants on both the financial services and consulting industries. Selected students from top-tier MBA programs attend industry-specific workshops, are introduced to case studies, and are provided with endless opportunities for networking with corporate partner representatives and other incoming MBA students prior to matriculation.”

At the 2008 forum that was held in Chicago in July, participants from the incoming classes of the nation’s top business schools met with representatives from prestigious companies including Merrill Lynch. They developed interview and networking skills, as well as making valuable contact with potential mentors and employers.

Participants quoted on the organization’s website are enthusiastic. Nadeen Matthews, a 2007 graduate of The Wharton School said: “The weekend was incredible. I learned a tremendous amount about both banking and consulting, plus I had the opportunity to network with corporate sponsors as well as my peers. MBA JumpStart provided an invaluable forum for the start of my career search process.”