Getting A Smart Start

Getting A Smart Start

Business school seemed like the natural next step for IT consultant Marsha Anderson. She had worked as an analyst and consultant at Accenture for several years and was promoted to manager. Plus, as the daughter of a former healthcare company CFO, the business world was a natural fit for her. But twice Anderson applied to a score of M.B.A. programs, and twice her applications were rejected. Before her third try, however, Anderson, 30, received assistance that produced impressive results: admission to four of her five choice schools, including one that had turned her away before. All offered scholarships; two for the full cost of attending.

Anderson credits her success to Management Leadership for Tomorrow, a nonprofit organization based in New York City that aims to increase the number of minorities in business school and prepares talented college students for fast- track, entry-level jobs that set the stage for leadership roles in business or the nonprofit world. Anderson completed her M.B.A. at Cornell University’s Johnson School of Business and now works in Pfizer Inc.’s consumer division as assistant product manager of Listerine Whitening Pre-Brush Rinse.

“MLT helped me better articulate and explain my rationale for attending business school,” she explains. “I always had a clear objective, but MLT helped me clarify my transferable skills from IT consulting at Accenture [and] switch to a new career in consumer products brand management marketing.”

MLT founder John Rice, a 39-year-old former executive at Walt Disney Co. and the National Basketball Association, earned his M.B.A. at Harvard Business School in 1992. While there, he was struck by the scarcity of people of color in the program. “I looked around the classroom and asked, ‘Why are there so few minorities?'” he recalls. He began a research project that led to a study by Boston Consulting Group that identified bottlenecks for minorities in the pipeline toward leadership positions in business. Those points, Rice says, include minority “underrepresentation in top M.B.A. programs as well as underrepresentation in those entry-level jobs in business that put folks on the fast track, give them that training and mentorship and early relationships.” Out of that research, MLT was born.

According to MLT, its MBA Prep participants-typically young professionals two or more years out of college-see a 100-point improvement on the Graduate Management Admission Test. Last year, 100 MLT graduates were accepted into business school, at a rate more than three times the national average-for all students, not just minorities. African Americans make up approximately 7% of the M.B.A. student population, according to recent reports.

In its Career Prep program, MLT staff and professionals from partner corporations, including Citigroup, McKinsey & Co., PepsiCo, and Goldman Sachs, help students understand what it takes to succeed in typical entry-level jobs.

“So when the time comes to enter the recruiting process, they’re not only super-prepared to excel, but when they get the offer, they’re also extremely well-prepared to do well on the job,” Rice says. MLT boasts a 92% summer internship placement at top firms.

Letica Fox-Thomas, now a loan analyst at