Women alumni talk about advantages of the FIU MBA.

Women alumni talk about advantages of the FIU MBA.

Women alumni talk about advantages of the FIU MBA.

Women executives — all Florida International University MBA alumni — shared their insights and experience at a panel discussion July 7, which took place at FIU Downtown on Brickell.

“The discussion touched on community and empowerment, and the awareness of where that can take ambitious people,” said Ashley Capó, recruitment manager, professional and executive MBA programs at the Alvah H. Chapman, Jr., Graduate School of Business, part of FIU’s College of Business. Capó noted that women make up 60 percent of FIU’s Professional MBA program.

The discussion included:

  • Ruth Rios (PMBA ‘15), senior advancement research analyst at the University of Miami
  • Melanie Garcia (PMBA ’13), senior manager, business development, The Latin Recording Academy (The Latin GRAMMYs)
  • Darlene Fernandez (PMBA ’14), administrator, Dalco Electric, Inc.
  • Monique Catoggio, (EMBA ‘03), CEO, Illumined Life Leadership

Moderating the panel was Lisa N. McGill, president and CEO, Executive One Consulting Solutions, who graduated with an EMBA in 2014. Each woman’s experience illustrated what the MBA has meant in her own life.

“Without my degree I don’t feel that I would fully comprehend what it takes to be able to launch and grow my own business,” said Catoggio. “EMBA planted that seed — my motivation to one day go out on my own and make a greater impact.”

That was echoed by McGill, who said the program’s method of weaving together disciplines – finance, accounting, information systems, law – gives participants a global view of contemporary business’ dynamic nature. “It allows you to expand your intellectual capacity and become more focused as a strategist,” she said.

Women alumni talk about advantages of the FIU MBA.


Credentials and learning are key.

The panel agreed that education expands professional reach, especially as women still face headwinds moving up in the C-suite. Whether breaking the glass ceiling or dealing with what is termed the “glass cliff” (giving women leadership roles only when a business is on the rocks), preparation is everything. “It’s important to have your credentials. It helps you get the respect you’ve earned,” McGill said.

Panelists emphasized the importance of networking and mentoring among women and within companies.

“Mentors – classmates, faculty or others in your career or life – can truly up your game and open doors for you,” said Catoggio, who for 13 years was the alumni director for the College of Business at FIU. “In our community in particular, nearly 80 percent of FIU’s alumni remain local, so the ability to establish long-lasting relationships is priceless,” she said.

Becoming comfortable putting oneself forward was also addressed.

“Sit at the table with the men who work with you, you deserve it as much as they do,” said Garcia. “Realize that everything in life is balance. Some days you’re going to be a great employee, and other days, you’re going to be a better mother, friend, sister,” she added.

Added Catoggio: “Part of being a leader is understanding who you are, what you can bring to the table, and having clear understanding how you add value. As women we need to have confidence in ourselves and project that confidence to all around us.”

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