2023 MBA To Watch: Melissa Belec, Babson College (Olin)

Melissa Belec

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

“Grit & Grace – I am hardworking and approach every challenge with a positive attitude.”

Hometown: Montreal, Canada

Fun fact about yourself: Combining my love for sports and passion for community building, I started a fitness company in college called MonkeyGirl Fitness. The goal was to empower women with the foundations of exercise so that they felt confident to work out on their own after highschool. My definition of fitness is being agile and playful like a monkey!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Arts, McGill University

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Split Software based in Redwood city, California. I joined when the company had 30 employees and left to pursue my MBA when the company reached 200 employees.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Over the summer, I interned at a climate tech company called Sense Labs in Massachusetts. I worked with the partnerships team to develop the strategy for a new line of business.

In my last two semesters, I worked part-time for Mendoza Ventures, an early-stage artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and fintech fund. As a venture capital fellow, I was involved in all investment activities but was responsible for sourcing and due diligence.

Where will you be working after graduation? I am moving back to Canada after graduation to pursue a career in climate tech – channeling capital to people and projects that will have a positive economic, environmental and social impact.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I strive to be involved and give back to every community that I am a part of.

At Babson, I was elected co-president of the Graduate Tech Club. The Graduate Tech Club connects students passionate about tech with each other, the Babson community, and the broader tech ecosystem. We enable our community to leverage the power of technology to create, grow and steward sustainable economic and social value—everywhere.

I am also VP of marketing for the golf club and founder of the unofficial cycling club. I have always had a passion for bringing people together and have found that sports are strong community builders.

I am a proud recipient of the Sorenson Scholarship Award for Meritorious Achievement. This award is given to a graduating MBA student who has demonstrated outstanding merit defined by academic distinction, participation in extracurricular activities that encompass service to the Babson community, and pursuit of entrepreneurial endeavors.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am proud of the leadership team my co-president, Jay Clapp, and I built for the Tech Club. Student life struggled greatly during the pandemic. When my cohort started, we inherited a blank slate for club direction. Jay and I developed the strategy and the governance for the Tech Club, and then built a team to help execute the vision. This is a team of volunteers that share a passion for tech and want to help their peers excel in the space. I am confident that this team will continue to grow and improve the club beyond our time at Babson.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Leaving my first corporate job and moving to Silicon Valley fundamentally shaped, and continues to influence, my career and leadership aspirations. Landing in California with no job and no acquaintances, I hustled to build a network and land my dream job. I joined a 30-person start up as a first-time sales rep and cold called 100 potential customers every day – such a humbling experience. By the time I left to pursue my MBA, the company had grown to 200 employees, and I was selling to enterprise customers. Working for a software company, I was exposed to inspiring leaders, an innovative work culture, and the endless potential of technology. I am proud of the courage I had to take the risk and the persistence in chasing my goal.

Why did you choose this business school? It was Babson’s reputation for entrepreneurship that drew me to the program. Looking back, I am not sure I would have pursued an MBA at any other school. Growing up, I started garage sales, a can-collection business, a personal training business, and most recently a charity event. I knew that entrepreneurship was in my blood, and I felt that Babson was the best place to explore its potential.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Nathan Karst was my favorite professor because of his expert knowledge of the topics and passionate learning style. I took two STEM classes with him, both completely out of my comfort zone. His superpower is instilling confidence in his students and teaching how to learn hard things.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite course was New Venture Creation taught by Professor Andrew Zacharakis (Zach) – a Babson must in my opinion! The course takes every team from ideation to business proposal. At the end of the course, teams pitch their new ventures to investors.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Babson hosts a number of pitch competitions throughout the school year. I love seeing students gather in the auditorium to support their peers. These events really exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit at Babson.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I tend to want to do it all. Sometimes I worry that, by taking on too much, I am not performing to the 120% that I aspire to. Looking back, I would learn to say “no” more to focus my time and energy.

What is the biggest myth about your school?  From the outside, the MBA life can look glamorous (lots of events and vacation days). However, the reality is that business school is hard work and most of my days were spent in class or studying.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? Wellesley is a quaint town and I have enjoyed exploring the running trails and coffee shops. The Babson campus is what I love most, though, because of the beautiful amenities. I particularly like studying in the Horn Libraries’ atrium because of the indoor garden and glass ceiling which brings in natural light.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was surprised by how different graduate school was from undergrad. It has been much less theoretical and much more hands-on. Class formats are either case or project-based meaning we have to be resourceful to solve problems. I enjoy class discussions and debates because my classmates have rich and diverse experiences.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I spoke with current students to learn about their experience and to make sure it was a fit for me. I strongly believe that students have to find the school that will be the best fit for them, once they do so they ultimately have an edge!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire my friend and colleague David Ostrovsky because he makes doing it all look easy. While pursuing his MBA full time and leading the Acceleration Club, he continued to work for the family business and founded a startup. During these busy and stressful times, his optimism persisted and he never ceased being an incredible friend.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • Become an investor focused on channeling capital to highly impactful projects
  • Become an expert to then mentor and advisor for the next generation

What made Melissa such an invaluable member of the Class of 2023?

Melissa is a true Babson ambassador and engaged both inside and out of the classroom to make her Babson experience uniquely fit her professional, academic, and career goals. As someone who is adept at turning ideas into action, she makes things happen. When leading a team, she is able to break down challenges and tasks into more manageable ones to allow her team to do their jobs effectively and successfully.  And, she does all of this with a contagious and positive energy and a passion for the work both individually and as a part of the Babson community.

One project in particular to highlight was a non-credit workshop focused on product management in machine learning, which Melissa worked closely with faculty and staff to launch. To determine the focus of the workshop, Melissa activated her Tech Club members to determine their areas of interest in the field of tech and what type of workshop would be most beneficial, which is how this topic came about. She presented their findings persuasively and articulately and then collaboratively worked with Babson faculty and the workshop facilitator to identify sub-topics and specific areas of interest that grad students would be most interested in diving into during the workshop. Melissa’s collaboration was key to the success of launching this workshop and her ability to lead a team of her peers in this way was invaluable.

Melissa is passionate about leveraging the power of technology to mitigate climate change. This is seen in her work as the Co-President of the Babson Tech Club, as an active member of Babson’s Sustainability and Energy Club, and in her personal career journey. For her summer internship in Strategic Partnerships at Sense in Cambridge, she worked on climate tech through strategic planning, creating partnerships, and diving into market research. Melissa has been wonderfully strategic about her co-curricular and internship experiences shaping her Babson journey and in utilizing Babson’s resources to be successful. She’s definitely one to watch!”

Katherine Worthington
Associate Director, Graduate Student Life & Leadership


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