Alana Williams

Why did you donate to Pay It Forward MBA?
I started my career working for the federal government and didn't have an opportunity to receive significant bonuses or have a paycheck that would allow for additional savings. I went to Texas on a prayer and a dream that I could find my way into a corporate role and become a leader. Financially, I made it through due to a partial scholarship, some loans and working as a Graduate Assistant on campus. If you look at the pool of individuals who have the privilege to attend a full-time MBA program, not many people from underrepresented communities are able to attend for a variety of reasons that may include socioeconomic, familial and/or financial. The nature of recruiting for management and leadership positions at top companies in different industries like tech, healthcare, finance, and consumer/retail ultimately requires credentials like graduating from a top undergraduate program (you can check the URM stats for those programs) or graduating from a top MBA program (and usually full-time). The disparate impact of the pipeline requirements limits the pool of candidates largely due to 1) high school decisions on where to attend college, 2) the ability to pay for an MBA and 3) ability to sacrifice two years of salary while pursuing a full-time degree. Therefore, donating to Pay It Forward MBA and other organizations that could eliminate potentially one of the reasons more brilliant people from underrepresented communities don't take the step towards an MBA is a worthy cause to effect change!

What advice would you give to incoming MBA students?
Show up! Your classmates want to get to know you and you were selected as part of the class to offer your background and experiences. When I began showing up at different events and on Global Connections trips, I met more people in different settings in multiple classes ('17-'19). I'm thankful because I've made some great friends and had a more meaningful experience.

How did you become interested in banking?
When I decided to pursue my interest in private capital, there were three roles that I found were good paths to a career in VC or PE - product management, consulting or investment banking. After researching all of the different paths, I found that investment banking was a great career to observe the decision making process of corporate boards and chief executives while getting a sound foundation in finance and accounting.