2019 MBAs To Watch: Francesca Gibbs, Babson College (Olin)

Francesca Gibbs              

Babson College, F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business

An ENFP marketer with a loud laugh and passion for connecting with people.”

Hometown: Falls Church, VA

Fun fact about yourself: I spent my childhood living in the Panama Canal Zone. Vivid memories include field trips to the rainforest and having avocado and mango trees in my yard.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Virginia, B.A.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Throughout my career, I’ve tried to align myself with organizations that have a positive social impact on communities. My last role was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) working as a Development Associate where I helped develop marketing materials to engage donors on philanthropic projects.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? This past summer I was fortunate to intern at Hasbro where I worked on brand management with the Play-Doh team.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will rejoin Hasbro as an Associate Brand Manager in their rotation program.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Babson MBA Diversity Leadership Fellowship
  • President of the Babson Black MBA Club
  • Graduate Assistant in Admissions and the Dean’s Office specializing in diversity and inclusion projects
  • Mentor, Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship Leadership program
  • Babson Student Ambassador

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? A few months into my first year of the MBA program, I participated in Babson’s annual Rocket Pitch event. I pitched my business idea of an accelerator for women of color and, to my surprise, received an immense amount of support and interest in my idea. Although I decided not to pursue the venture, I gained invaluable confidence, knowledge, and feedback from the event. I learned a lot about myself in the process and felt accomplished for putting my personal experiences and ideas out to a live audience.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While I worked at the World Bank, I had the privilege to travel to Oaxaca, Mexico to conduct a field study and work with local residents to develop social impact funding recommendations. It was rewarding to speak with the residents and implement their feedback directly into my work.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Heidi Neck won me over from my very first class with her. Heidi taught my Entrepreneurship and Opportunity class which was my introduction to the value of a growth mindset and truly getting out into the world to bring ideas to life. Heidi is authentically herself and encouraged us to be the same. Her energy and passion are contagious and I always feel as though I need to put my best foot forward with her even if it’s just a coffee catch-up.

What was your favorite MBA Course? Marketing Analytics taught by the late Professor Abdul Ali. The class taught me how to use data and information to support my strategy and marketing decisions. I am positive that I’ll reference a lot of my class learnings as I progress in my career.

Why did you choose this business school? Babson stood out to me from the moment I walked on campus. I spoke with current students who were starting their own ventures and was just in awe of it all. I immediately felt that Babson would give me the opportunity to take the time I needed to figure out my own interests. I also loved how personal the student-professor relationships at Babson were and that really resonated with me.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? I would encourage the applicant to be genuine and forthcoming about their strengths as well as weaknesses. I think it speaks volumes when someone is self-aware of the areas they want to work on. I also think it’s important to know exactly why the Babson program, in particular, will help them achieve their goals.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Many see Babson as solely an entrepreneurial program for candidates seeking to start ventures. While Babson does place great emphasis on entrepreneurship, it wasn’t until I was on campus that I fully understood how valuable and pertinent entrepreneurship and more specifically, an entrepreneurial mindset is to every field. I was surprised to learn that I can take a lot of the entrepreneurial learnings and apply it to my career in brand management.   

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I wish I had known that an MBA is a great opportunity to learn both inside and outside of the classroom. I would argue that I’ve learned equally from my courses as I have from conversations with professors, fellow classmates, and industry experts.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? Business school has allowed me to take the time to explore various subjects that I hadn’t been exposed to and figure out which components I would like to have in my career. Most importantly, I believe that these two years have boosted my confidence tremendously and allowed me to take on challenges head on that I would’ve shied away from in the past. I’ve learned to get curious about my weaknesses as opposed to hiding or avoiding them and I think that’s a life-long lesson that has transformed me.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Jesse Pacheco. Jesse is an incredible classmate, but I admire him most for who he is out of the classroom. He has overcome adversity and consistently seeks out ways to make fellow classmates feel included and important. He started the program with one venture idea that didn’t work out and has already pivoted to focus on a new social impact venture. He has enhanced my Babson experience and I’m positive he will only continue to rise.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My friend and mentor, Ervan Boone inspired my decision to go to business school. Ervan is consistently positive and cheers me on throughout my life decisions. He made me feel that I could conquer business school and gain skills that would bolster my existing background. He told me that two years would go by no matter what and asked whether I wanted to have an MBA at the end of it. The answer was a resounding yes!

What is your favorite movie about business? I enjoyed The Intern because it showcased the sacrifices that women often have to make when leading a company, but reaffirmed that everyone is in control of their own decisions and shouldn’t compromise their values due to societal constructs.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? MTYOO which many pronounced “me to you” which stood for a class titled ‘Managing Talent: Your Own and Others.’

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…trying my hand at comedy writing.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? It’s hard for me to put an exact price tag on my MBA education, especially because a lot of my learnings were outside of the classroom and through self-exploration. Babson specifically allowed me to feel comfortable taking my time to figure out exactly what motivates me and fulfills me. I also developed relationships with classmates and professors that I simply can’t measure. All in all, I would say that my MBA education was worth more than I had ever anticipated.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? 1) To eventually create and run my own business and 2) To write a novel

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I want my peers to remember me as someone who was authentic and always willing to collaborate and listen.

Hobbies? I’ve tried to prioritize getting outdoors more and more. My fiancé and I visited 5 National Parks last year.

What made Francesca such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“The Class of 2019 is exponentially better for having Francesca Gibbs!  Her energy, poise, smile, and laugh is both memorable and inspiring.  Students sit in the same seat every day in my class.  Francesca sat middle right and her facial expressions always gave me immediate feedback.  She had expressions that said, “Did you just say that? Now that makes more sense? Can you tell that student across the room to stop talking so much? Yes, I can do that! There is no way I’m going to rocket pitch my idea! I think I might rocket pitch my idea.” But, I think my favorite and subtle expression on her face said, “I’m going to change the world.”  Francesca had more confidence and ability than she knew when she started at Babson. Babson simply unleashed her power, and everyone in the Class 2019 has benefitted and will continue to benefit from being in her energy field.  Many MBA students lead and participate in campus organizations. Francesca did this, of course, but she offered a lot more of the intangibles that I don’t see in all students. Thank you, Francesca Gibbs, for being a part of the Babson community and in my class. The impact that you have made on me as a professor is more than you know.”

Heidi Neck, Ph.D.

Professor of Entrepreneurship

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