2017 MBAs To Watch: Flora Ekpe-Idang, Babson College

Flora Ekpe-Idang

Babson College

“Advocate for the upliftment of girls of color and the intersection of activism and business.”

Age: 27

Hometown: East Orange, NJ

Fun fact about yourself: I have moonwalked on the Great Wall of China

Undergraduate School and Degree: Pepperdine University; B.A. in Advertising, Minor in Marketing

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Sensis Agency as an Advertising Account Executive

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Hasbro, Providence, Rhode Island

Where will you be working after graduation? Target, Senior Cultural Marketing Manager. Also, working on my startup Corage Dolls.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President, Babson Black MBA Association
  • Co-Founder, Babson Adversity in Diversity Forum
  • VP of Academic Affairs, Graduate Student Council
  • Committee Member, Babson Black Affinity Conference
  • Board Member, Babson Black Affinity Network
  • Admissions Ambassador
  • Accelerator Cohort, WIN Lab (Women Innovating Now)
  • Accelerator Cohort, Babson Butler Venture Accelerator Program
  • Graduate Assistant, Diversity & Inclusion: Office of The President
  • Mentor, National Black MBA Association LOT Program
  • Winner, Harvard Business School SPARK Pitch Competition
  • Winner, I Have A Dream Pitch Competition
  • Winner, Babson Rocket Pitch Class Event
  • Recipient, The Nan Langowitz Women Who Make A Difference Award
  • Recipient, Ralph Z. and Charlotte R. Sorenson Scholarship Award
  • Recipient, MLK Jr. Leadership Award

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of co-founding Babson’s first full-fledged diversity conference, titled “Adversity in Diversity: Moving Beyond Barriers.” Last year, a friend and I had many discussions regarding diversity and inclusion and what issues we felt strained us the most. In the midst of our crazy schedules, we could not ignore what was brewing on campuses around the nation that were participating in acts of civil disobedience regarding discrimination, bias, support, and accountability. That’s how the inaugural Adversity in Diversity Forum came about. The mission of this forum was to engage in candid dialogue, deepen an understanding of breaking down cultural barriers, and apply entrepreneurial thinking in how business leaders could take action in solving some of today’s most pressing diversity and inclusion issues. We held the event a week before the presidential election and had over 100 people in attendance, executed four thought-provoking panels, one hard-hitting interactive session, and a phenomenal lineup of 20+ speakers as we discussed topics ranging from race and gender to sexuality and immigration. At Babson College (and as entrepreneurs), we are taught to create Social, Environmental, and Economic value, but who we’re creating value for is most essential. The vision of this event was to promote cultural consciousness, competence, and coalescence and by the end of the day people are able to walk away one step closer to one of these key elements.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Actually founding Corage Dolls. When starting at Babson I was truly nervous to share my business idea with my classmates and professors because I feared of being shot down or someone not getting my idea. As the only Black female in my entire MBA class, you can understand how someone creating an empowerment focused multicultural doll business may have felt this way.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor was Heidi Neck as she taught Entrepreneurship & Opportunity during my first semester. As a core class and that one seamlessly orchestrated the meaning of Entrepreneurship, Thought, & Action, Heidi pushed us all to “throw the book out the window” regarding the standard principles of business and just do it! One of my favorite projects was the $5 Challenge in which we had to create a profit off of $5 and within a 2 hour window time. This was an excellent and memorable way to teach us the importance of bootstrapping and how to take a business out of little resources and turn it into something great through the power of perseverance, strategy, creativity, and working within your network. As an entrepreneur Heidi continuously challenged me and others to apply our skills towards our passion and she’ll forever in my mind be remember as my favorite professor.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Babson College because I wanted to build strong business acumen skills as I knew that I wanted to become an entrepreneur and Babson was my top choice. The women entrepreneur focused accelerator program, the amazing collaborative spirit, access to strong networking connections, and overall the support of professors, staff, and administration that indisputably want their students to thrive and achieve success on their own terms.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The collaborative spirit and the students. Having conversations and getting to hear from my classmates regarding stories of their passions, their business ideas, and helping each other in general are the best parts of Babson and what the school offers.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? Just how collaborative the school is was surprising because when I read up on business school and visited a few programs, I felt that competition and ranking were so important an as a result maybe you would find yourself not willing to be vulnerable with your peers. At Babson, that is the exact opposite. The most help that I got on my business was from my classmates who were always willing to connect me to people or just share their time and provide any advice.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Cherish the art of storytelling. Everyone has a story and that’s what resonates with the Babson community the strongest. I’m not saying boast about yourself, but share a story about what makes you passionate in your convictions and why a school like Babson is the right place to be in.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That everyone has a startup when in actuality a large number are working at companies, come from family businesses and looking to transition into, or someday looking to create a start-up.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not appealing to get a scholarship or graduate assistant role sooner.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Mark Gagliardi. Not only is he my closet friend in my program, but he’s also the co-founder of the Adversity in Diversity Forum as well as my VP of the Babson Black MBA Association. We’re different people, but we both share the same goals of desiring for better diversity and inclusion in our schools and society as a whole. We’ve spent countless hours throughout our time at Babson developing new initiatives that promoted inclusivity and worked with faculty, staff, administration, and other students in fighting for great causes.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I graduated college and knew that I wanted to build a multicultural doll company someday, but desired to acquire further business skills.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… Working on building Corage Dolls.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? Make it highly experiential and infuse less cases.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To expand Corage Dolls in a greater diverse array of characters and identities and to develop a nonprofit in my hometown East Orange that is centered on inspiring the next generation of girls of color to become entrepreneurs that ultimately allows them to build economic development within their communities.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My mother is the most astonishing person there is and that’s not just because I came from her. As an immigrant from Grenada, she (along with my dad) pushed my brother and I to strive for achievement and excellence in our own right. She has persevered through so much and given many sacrifices for me to even be in this position today and all that I do and any accolades that I ever receive are because she always reminded me that I am capable of what I put my mind to.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As someone who championed for diversity and inclusion and pushed others to expand their way of thinking about it.

Favorite book: Americana

Favorite movie or television show: Titanic

Favorite musical performer: Jazmine Sullivan (completely underrated)

Favorite vacation spot: Six Flags

Hobbies? Karaoke, playing board games, going to amusement parks

What made Flora such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“It is with great pride that I provide this letter for Ms. Flora Ekpe-Idang recommending her for the Poets & Quants “Class of 2017: The World’s Best and Brightest MBAs”.

As a 2017 MBA Candidate at Babson College with a focus in entrepreneurship and multicultural marketing, Flora has modeled the leadership capacity to bring her full range of creative and analytical genius to forge powerful collaborations, innovation and change. In her own words, her expertise lies in “strong project and brand management, ability to effectively manage cross-functional teams, maintain great client relationships, and interpret key analytical and strategic elements in order to drive successful campaigns.” As founder of Corage Dolls, she is also a driver for the empowerment of girls of color and an advocate for better representation in media, toys, and society at large.

Humbly representing a dazzling array of talents, Flora prepares to graduate with an impressive academic record, only matched by her contributions to the Babson community. When college campuses all over the country rose in protest in the Fall of 2015 demanding access, equity and inclusion, there were not many graduate school leaders giving voice to these same needs for graduate students. Flora led the efforts to give voice to these concerns for Babson graduate students. As a result, she successfully turned the college’s attention to opportunities to increase professional development resources for all graduate students, reignited the National Black MBA Association campus presence by forming 15 new memberships. She also influenced enhanced efforts to recruit graduate students of color by partnering with Graduate Admissions and the Graduate Dean to promote more scholarships, develop recommendations on outreach initiatives, and push for the creation of more business cases with minority protagonists.

She served as Babson’s first Graduate Assistant for Diversity and Inclusion, Office of the President, and co-designed the college’s first graduate school diversity and inclusion conference, “Adversity in Diversity.” As President for the Babson Black MBA Association, she leads the impressive efforts to produce a weekly publication distributed campus-wide, mentoring programs for high school students preparing for business school educations, executing cultural events and networking opportunities for students to connect to the Black experience, and is always available to encourage current and prospective students.

Dr. Sadie Burton-Goss

Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Babson College