As any business school student can attest to, business school is a great opportunity to pursue experiences and opportunities that you are excited about. However, it can also be hectic to manage a handful of competing priorities. Divinity Matovu, (Wharton, ’17) can attest to this. As a mother of two and first year student at Wharton, Divinity is involved in numerous activities on campus, such as serving as the VP for External Affairs for Wharton’s Africa Students Association, and is also the Founder of MBA Mama, an online platform tailored towards current and perspective MBA Moms. We had the chance to interview Divinity about why she started MBA Mama, and how she manages all the important priorities in her life.
MBASchooled: Tell us who you are – Why decide you decide to go to business school?
Divinity: I’m a mother of two pursuing my MBA at Wharton with a focus on entrepreneurial management and finance. I’ve lived and worked in East Africa and pride myself on being a global citizen and an advocate for women. I’m passionate about start-ups, technology, financial inclusion, women’s empowerment and African affairs. I’m an entrepreneur who attended the University of Southern California, managed my own consulting practice in Los Angeles, and co-founded a non-profit organization in Uganda before Wharton. I decided to come to business school shortly after I closed the doors to my non-profit which had significant social impact but was not financially sustainable. We simply weren’t generating enough revenue to continue to operate our programs which forced me to re-assess my skillset. As a student of leadership, I also wanted to challenge myself in new ways, grow my professional network, and learn new methods and best practices for being a dynamic business leader who can impact and grow organizations through influence rather than authority.
MBASchooled: How has your experience at Wharton been thus far? What have you enjoyed the most?
Divinity: My experience at Wharton has been challenging and rewarding. I am learning so much and feel privileged to be pursuing my MBA at Wharton. I’ve benefitted from a broad range of entrepreneurial resources for mbamama.com, and have taken advantage of an engaged career management team. I recently enrolled in Wharton’s Executive Coaching and Feedback Program which enables and supports every MBA student in the pursuit of deeper self-awareness and improved leadership skills to advance individual success and team and community performance. I was selected as an Investment Associate with Wharton Impact Investing Partners and have spent my semester learning about social venture capital, deal sourcing, conducting due diligence, portfolio management and methods for evaluating investment opportunities – tangible skills that align with my career goals. From a leadership perspective, I designed and implemented a social media marketing strategy for Wharton’s 23rd Annual Africa Business Forum (WABF). My involvement with WABF has, by far, been the Wharton experience I’ve enjoyed the most. I blogged about it for mbamama.com here.
MBASchooled: What aspect of business school has been most challenging thus far?
Divinity:This semester has been incredibly difficult. I started pre-term at Wharton about three months after my mother died suddenly. On a personal level, I considered petitioning to defer my admission to give myself time to grieve. But, when I thought long and hard about what my mother would want for me, I decided to matriculate and keep moving forward towards my goal of earning a Wharton MBA. While it has been tough to learn and apply quantitative and analytical frameworks that are new to me, managing my time and balancing business school with my responsibilities as a mother has been the greatest challenge, by far. I persevered through a mid-semester childcare crisis which I also blogged about here. I view these challenges as the chance to grow personally and professionally while also modeling positive behaviors – like resilience, determination and courage – for my three year old daughter, Nyah.
MBASchooled: What is MBA Mama?
Divinity: Launched earlier this year on my daughter’s birthday, mbamama.com is an online platform featuring products, services and exclusive, inspirational content that provides Millennial Moms with tools and resources to pursue a graduate business degree. We feature blog posts, videos, images and information ambitious women can use to advance their MBA pursuits, careers and family planning.
MBASchooled: Why did you decide to start MBA Mama?
Divinity: During the school research phase of my MBA application journey, I scoured the internet for information that was relevant to me as a future “MBA mom.” What I found was sparse, outdated or inapplicable to me as a single mother. I was dismayed to see elite MBA programs framing “MBA students with families” almost exclusively as male students married to stay-at-home moms. I had to dig deep to find basic details about daycare and pre-school options and financial aid for students with dependents. I also came across very few images or stories of MBA moms. This was incredibly frustrating—and made me doubt whether my goal was attainable. I considered giving up every three to four days, like clockwork.
My turning point came when I got connected with Erin Nilon, a mom of two toddlers, who earned her MBA at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. Erin’s youngest was only a few months old when she started her MBA program. Her success gave me a much-needed confidence boost during a critical time on my application process. Shortly thereafter, I had an “aha moment” that inspired me to launch MBA Mama.
MBASchooled: How have you managed to juggle business school, family and MBA Mama?
Divinity: Business school is full of opportunities – for jobs and internships, competitions, international travel, leadership roles, networking and social activities – a lot of social activities. Staying true to myself and keeping my priorities in check has helped me manage business school, motherhood and MBA Mama. Our blog is also full of stories from a diverse group of MBA moms from HBS, Stanford, Georgetown, and Duke who talk about managing family and b-school.
MBASchooled: What have you enjoyed most about running MBA Mama?
Divinity:Giving women a platform to express themselves, share their stories and inspire other women has honestly been the best part. I am passionate about gender diversity and have been an advocate for women and girls internationally my entire career. While my business partner, Nicole Pontón, and I are still refining our business model, we are excited about building a brand that has resonated with so many people and has unlimited potential for success.
MBASchooled: What advice do you have for MBA students who are juggling school, family, and entrepreneurial pursuits?
Divinity: Keep your priorities in order, be strategic about how you spend your time, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. On our blog, we have recently featured two phenomenal MBA moms – Stacy Blackman and Lourdes Ramon – who offered great advice for women considering an entrepreneurial path.