2017 MBAs To Watch: Charity Wollensack, Wharton School

Charity Wollensack

Wharton School

Age: 29

Hometown: New Haven, CT

Undergraduate School and Degree: Georgetown University, Finance

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I worked as a program manager for the non-profit SEO Career. SEO Career is an internship program that provides professional development and educational training to underrepresented minority college students seeking internships in business. Prior to that I worked in finance at Barclays in the Financial Institutions Structuring Group.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? McKinsey, Atlanta

Where will you be working after graduation? (List Company and Role): McKinsey, Stamford

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: (Include school awards and honors):

  • Co-President, Return on Equality (Return on Equality equips students with the skills and knowledge to become advocates and allies of diversity and inclusion in their professional and personal lives)
  • Co-Chair, Whitney M. Young Jr. Conference Co-Chair (The Whitney M. Young Jr. Conference is hosted by the Wharton’s African American MBA Association (AAMBAA) and is the longest continuously running student planned conference at an MBA program)
  • Student Life Fellow (as a Student Life Fellow I am a resource and mentor to a group of 18 first year students)
  • Admissions Fellow (as an Admissions Fellow I host information sessions on campus and facilitate the team based discussion interview on campus)
  • Middle East Startup Advisor (through the Middle East and North Africa club I am assisting a startup in developing their marketing strategy)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Last fall, following a number of police involved shootings, I helped organize a “black-out” in which students on Wharton’s campus wore black in solidarity of the Black Lives Matter movement.  Hundreds of students wore black at Wharton and the momentum spread to many other MBA programs that also hosted similar demonstrations. Seeing thousands of MBA students not only wear black, but also voluntarily engage in the difficult conversations that followed, made me exceptionally proud to be a part of this community.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Milkman teaches Managerial Decision Making and she does an amazing job of challenging the class to think critically about the way behavioral economics influences decision making. Through her hands on and energetic teaching style she also pushes us to think about the ways to best utilize this information both as consumers and future business leaders.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Small Group Processes has been my favorite course. In this experiential learning class, students are placed in a room and are tasked to analyze group dynamics with little other instruction over the course of a weekend. Through this course, I became much more aware of the vast array of experiences and expectations that individuals bring to a team and how understanding those differences can help create more cohesive and high functioning teams.

Why did you choose this business school? I was very attracted to the breadth and depth of opportunities at Wharton.While I knew at the time I wanted to make a career switch, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do. I felt confident that Wharton could provide me with a great launching pad into whatever career path I decided upon both from a program perspective and through the diverse interests of the student body. I have found that the large class size is super helpful when wanting to learn more about certain career paths or general interests.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The people! I have never before been surrounded by so many talented and ambitious people from all over the world who are eager to get to know one another. Through both the challenging periods (i.e. Q1 exams or recruiting) and the fun times (so many fun times), the best parts of my Wharton experience revolve around the moments where I’ve gotten to go from being just classmates to life long friends with so many of them.

 What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? A huge part of the learning that happens in business school happens outside of the classroom. I remember being a prospective student and spending a lot of time comparing curriculum styles between programs. While I am learning a tremendous amount from my courses, I continue to be surprised by just how much I also am also learning through my peers and through my involvement in leadership roles. These out of the classroom learnings have also been a huge part of my MBA experience.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Talk to as many people as possible. While there’s a ton of information to read about Wharton online, I think nothing beats coming to campus and or speaking to students about their experience. Those personal conversations can help you better understand Wharton’s offerings and what the student experience is really like.

What is the biggest myth about your school? There’s this huge misconception that Wharton is a cut throat finance school. My experience has been quite different from that. The student body is incredibly collaborative both socially and professionally. Although Wharton does have an amazing finance program, the interests of the student body and the breadth of the curriculum expand far beyond that and spill into almost every industry.

 What was your biggest regret in business school? Two years of business school goes by really quickly. There are always five things going on at once and it can be hard to carve out down time to really reflect. I wish I spent more time before beginning the Wharton thinking strategically about the experiences I wanted to have and the specific ways I wanted to develop, both personally and professionally, during my MBA. I think if I had done that, I would have spent far less time just going with the flow and would have been more intentional about the experiences I wanted to have.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? (and why?): The classmate that I admire most is Ada Hopkins. She approaches life in a way that is far different from most business school students in that she is unapologetically passionate in her belief and convictions. Every time I see her take an unpopular stance due to those convictions, she inspires me to also stand up for the things I believe in.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I saw my career headed in one direction, but realized I wanted to pivot and take my career in a completely different direction.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working in finance in New York City.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? Wharton’s student body is incredibly diverse, both through experience and origin. I would love to see more cases in the core curriculum that reflect those levels of diversity.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Chief Marketing Officer for a retail or consumer goods company

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I can’t thank just one person! My success is so intrinsically linked to my amazing support system which consists of my parents, my siblings, my incredible friends, Jamel and all of the many people throughout my entire life who have had faith in me, supported me, and continually challenged me to work harder and always do my best. Having this incredible support system has always made me feel like sky is the limit and for that, I am so very thankful.

 Favorite book: The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz

Favorite movie or television show: Insecure

Favorite musical performer: Beyonce

Favorite vacation spot: Cuba

Hobbies? Cooking, traveling

What made Charity such an invaluable member of the Class of 2017?

“Charity’s leadership cuts across multiple Wharton communities. She is actively involved in promoting diversity and inclusion education through Return on Equality. She’s widely considered a thought leader in the subject and has worked with current students and the administration to create lasting change in student programming and resources. Charity has left her mark on WG’18 and future Wharton students, not only as Student Life Fellow, mentoring 1Ys, but also as an Admissions Fellow, helping shape the incoming WG’19. Moreover, she proactively promotes the engagement of minority students, encouraging them to consider a Wharton MBA and become outspoken student leaders once on campus.”

– Member of the Class of 2017



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