In celebration of International Women’s Day, Wharton’s EMBA program is teaming up with the Financial Women of San Francisco (FWSF) to host a conference on Advancing Women in Finance. Held at the Wharton San Francisco campus, the event will explore how to make changes – in the financial industry and among women themselves – to further women’s careers.
In addition to events like the conference, the FWSF supports women through scholarships to female students at Bay Area universities pursuing education in accounting, finance, and financial services. Recipients of the $15,000 scholarships also connect with mentors in the organization. Several women in Wharton’s EMBA program in San Francisco have received scholarships, including Swati Chopra, WG’19.
Growing up in Delhi, India, Swati Chopra, WG’19, took what she describes as an “alternative path.” Financial hardships and family struggles fueled her ambitions. She explained, “I went to college to earn undergraduate and master’s degrees in finance, and I became one of the first females in my family to get a professional job and work outside of the house.”
Self-taught in the growing field of cybersecurity, Swati focused on security for financial institutions in India. When her husband’s career took the couple to California, she worked for Cisco and then the startup Bitglass.
Throughout these changes, she never lost sight of her long-term goal of starting her own company. “I had worked at companies of all different sizes — from large to mid-size to startup — but I knew I needed an MBA to augment my experience with the skills required to set up and grow my own company. Wharton had the rigor, reputation, and an unmatched network of accomplished alumni that I was looking for,” she noted.
The Value of Mentorship
In 2018, Swati was one of 12 FWSF scholarship awardees. “I was honored to join this group of smart and supportive women whose goal aligns with mine to uplift other women. The mentorship program of FWSF opened up new opportunities and perspectives for me. My mentor was instrumental in helping me both professionally as well as personally,” said Swati.
She emphasized that mentorship programs are “critical” to encourage and support more women to pursue business careers. “Education is the greatest gift one can give anyone. Scholarship and mentorships programs can help encourage more women by supporting them in MBA programs and their careers.”
As a Wharton graduate, Swati helps the FWSF spread the word about its scholarship and mentorship programs in the Wharton community. Leading the FWSF Wharton chapter, she hosts Information Sessions for Wharton women. And at work, she makes a point to attend “women in technology” conferences and events to connect with qualified women, mentor them, or recruit them.
She noted, “I now have the knowledge, tools, and network to achieve anything. I am humbled by the opportunity to guide and enable more women in the Bay Area to unlock their potential.”
Since starting Wharton’s EMBA program, Swati made some changes in her own career. She explained, “I found a high-impact job at McAfee as a director of customer success for the company’s largest customers. My Wharton education has helped me to own the P&L responsibility at the new role and add this much-needed skill to my profile. To further my entrepreneurial goals, I also worked as a venture associate to evaluate new cybersecurity investment opportunities at the VC firm Illuminate Ventures — that was made possible by the Wharton network.”
Swati added, “Not only am I accelerating my career, but I’m also setting an example for my daughter about the value of education and mindset of lifelong learning. My daughter wants to become the first female president of America and I encourage her to believe that with education, hard work, and mentorship, she can do anything!”
Learn more about the FWSF scholarship and check out Forté MBA Fellowships for women.
Read about Jessica Ross, WG15, who received the FWSF Scholarship twice.
— Meghan Laska
Posted: March 2, 2020