Name: Caroline Diarte Edwards
Location: Palo Alto, California
Education: BA in Modern Languages from the University of Cambridge, UK; MBA from INSEAD
How did you determine what you wanted to study in college?
I loved learning languages and travelling to different countries, so I decided when I was about 15 that I wanted to study languages at university.
Walk us through your initial job search strategy and how you landed your first full-time role.
I wanted to work in business in an international organisation where I could use my languages. I was drawn to consulting, as it is a fantastic early career training ground – you get a lot of exposure to different companies and industries, so it’s a steep learning curve. Arthur Andersen sponsored me for a year abroad during my undergraduate studies (I worked in their Frankfurt and Montreal offices) and having had a great experience, I decided to join the strategy consulting division of the firm in London when I graduated.
What led you to business school at INSEAD?
Some of my colleagues at Andersen had MBAs from INSEAD and told me about the school. Given my interest in international business and working in different countries, the international diversity of the school really resonated with me.
While you were studying at INSEAD, did you ever think that you’d return and become its Director of Admissions?
I loved the school but no it didn’t occur to me that I might end up working there!
As a Director at Fortuna Admissions, you are now seeing the process from a third, slightly different perspective. I’m curious if there is something you see in female applicants that you don’t in male applicants (a character trait, a certain set of experiences, etc.) that they can really capitalize on not only as they apply to business school but as they navigate their careers?
I would say that it is more common that I see women applicants who doubt their ability and don’t fully realise how fantastic they are, or how much they have to bring to business school.
What was the biggest “lesson learned” in your career to date (this could come from a misstep, hurdle, or an interaction with a colleague, for example)?
Network is so important. Building and maintaining relationships is so critical to every step of your career. I recommend the book “Never Eat Alone” which has some great tips on effective networking. Among other things, the book explains the importance to your career of “weak ties” – your acquaintances, not your inner circle – and I have found it very true both in my career and my husband’s career that most opportunities have come via weak ties.
For young women who are considering careers in business what is vital for them to consider?
Work is so much more fun and rewarding when you like the people you work with. Pursue a job with an organisation where you really like the culture and admire the people.
And similarly, what about as they consider an MBA?
An MBA is a major investment of time and money; find a school that you are really passionate about and where the community inspires you.
Do you have a mentor (or did you earlier in your career)? Who do you look to for inspiration and support?
I have benefitted from some great advice from various people along the way, including bosses, peers, professors, friends and family. It’s always useful to get someone else’s opinion! My husband and I often use each other as a sounding board (he’s a venture capitalist).
Final words of wisdom to all the young women out there who are strategizing to reach their education and career goals?
It’s great to get input from others, but at the end of the day, pursue the path that feels right to you in your heart of hearts. I love this tip from my colleague Judith Hodara: if you are hesitating about a decision, flip a coin. Heads for yes, tails for no. Of course, you don’t have to stick with that outcome, but the feeling you get in your stomach when you see which way the coin falls can tell you a lot.
If you are open to connecting with our readers, how can they reach you?
Via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you, Caroline!!!
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