By Nikita Sunilkumar
It’s a statistic that has floated around since orientation and pre-term, but I think it bears repeating: the Kellogg class of 2017 has a record percentage of female students, and at 43% of an incoming class of 492, those students are poised to make a big impact. I had a chance to feel this impact quite viscerally when I walked into the Allen Center a few weeks ago for the first annual Women’s Welcome Event hosted by the Women’s Business Association (WBA).
All the spectacular diversity among my classmates was on full display. Bright voices and smiles filled the room as greetings were exchanged between old friends and new. Introductions were made among those from vastly different professional and personal backgrounds in a cacophony of accents and languages, and the somber black suits of a stereotypical business meeting were replaced with a riot of color and style.
I would have been hard pressed to find any one characteristic to fully define the group around me, at least until Professor Victoria Medvec stood up to lead us in an exercise. She noted that women often don’t voice their own accomplishments in business settings as often as men do, and challenged each of us to introduce ourselves to the student seated alongside us by emphasizing our unique strengths.
Prof. Medvec, reconvened the group and asked students to highlight their neighbors and share these accomplishments with the whole room. As each student spoke up, it became clear we were all united by a common theme: talent.
Among our ranks we have highly accomplished managers, consultants, bankers, scientists, veterans and other professionals, and each person at that first WBA meeting is someone I can’t wait to get to know better over the next two years. Certainly part of my motivation is wanting to build a strong professional network among my peers, but I’m mostly excited about being around the kind of people I met at the Allen Center that day: friendly, enthusiastic and generous about sharing their successes while promoting and supporting each other.
As the weeks have passed I am happy to say that my initial impressions have only deepened: the Kellogg culture is truly “high impact and low ego,” as promised.
Each new conversation reveals something interesting or admirable about a classmate or a faculty member; questions for information are never ignored and offers to share more are always forthcoming. There is no shortage of inspiration, from second years and the many projects they have undertaken within and outside the Kellogg community, to the faculty and administration, who clearly share a high regard for each other as well as the work that they do.
As the days pass, I find that I hardly notice how many amazing women are part of the Kellogg community, and I’m impressed by that most of all. When so many business and institutions struggle with creating a culture of inclusion, the fact that it seems so effortless at Kellogg is both uplifting and inspiring. I look forward to doing my part in keeping this particular Kellogg ‘tradition’ alive and well for future students.
Nikita Sunilkumar is a first-year student in Kellogg’s Full-Time Two-Year MBA Program. She is originally from California and worked at The Boeing Company as a Production Engineer before Kellogg. She hopes to transition to a career in Finance after graduation.