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A Cambridge MBA alumna has been shortlisted for the finalists of Women of the Future Awards 2021 in the UK. Toni Thorne (MBA 2020/21) has been shortlisted in the MBA Star category.

Toni Thorne on stage.

The Women of the Future Awards 2021

The award MBA Star recognises one particular female MBA student of ‘exceptional vision, talent and promise’, with the judges ‘looking to identify individual stories of current or former MBA students with a compelling life-story and exciting visions for the future’.

The Women of the Future panel outlined Toni’s shortlisting, “Toni is a former entrepreneur and media personality in Barbados and the Caribbean and has been an ardent supporter of women’s and children’s rights. She pivoted into a finance role immediately after her MBA, having taken part in a range of initiatives and competitions during her Cambridge MBA. Her passions have evolved to include finance and electronic data interchange and she will soon take up the role as Vice President – Marketing Manager, UK Marketing at JP Morgan Asset Management.”

Toni Thorne
Toni Thorne (MBA 2020)

The journey to the MBA

Before her MBA studies Toni was an award-winning entrepreneur and former National Youth Awardee, who has been a consultant to both public and private sector entities in Barbados. At age 18, she was the first Black or Caribbean person to sit at the Global Youth Leader’s European Summit. She was a University of the West Indies Vice Chancellor’s Ambassador who qualified for their World Debating Championships team.

Her global media credentials include, “The Toni Thorne Show”, a regionally broadcast television show and her weekly “Women’s Wednesdays”, which enjoyed a listenership of 30,000. She is a former Huffington Post blogger and columnist to two of Barbados’ leading publications.

Toni was also a US State Department Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative Professional Fellow for 2020/2021.

The MBA year at Cambridge

For her Cambridge MBA year Toni was both a Cambridge Trust Scholar, as well as a Chevening Scholar – both enabling her to continue her career development at the University of Cambridge.

During her MBA year Toni was selected as the 2021 Best and Brightest MBAs by Poets and Quants.

In Poets and Quants Toni talked about her MBA year to date, “I am most proud of gaining critical knowledge, skills, and exposure to successfully pursue a career change into the world of Finance. The Cambridge MBA programme and mentors have been critical to my pivot into finance.”

She continues; “At Cambridge Judge Business School I enjoyed access to conferences and seminars that I would not have been generally exposed to. Most importantly, I was able to see how the experience gained from these initiatives, in addition to the knowledge gained from my MBA coursework, had an impact on those with whom I interacted on these non-profit and extra-curricular initiatives.”

As a student at Cambridge Judge, she enjoys being a Cambridge Women in Media Mentor, Cambridge Women in Finance Mentee, and a member of the Cambridge Union Speakers Committee.

“I sat on the Cambridge Union’s Speakers Committee, where I was encouraged and inspired to actively push for continued and heightened diversity in the luminaries hosted by The Cambridge Union.”

Toni also participated in the Cambridge Judge Against Covid (CJAC) outreach programme with the Bristol Yoga Roots Project for refugees.

She explains, “I also formed a group of women of African descent in the MBA and Executive-MBA cohorts from both the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, with the aim of mentoring young, black girls who dream of walking the halls of these two great institutions.”

Working to support and mentor women in business

As part of her exceptional work with women across the wider Cambridge Judge community, Toni worked with the Co-chairs of the Wo+Men’s Leadership Student Interest Group (SIG) in their outreach efforts and the planning of the CJBS Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre (WLC) Seventh Annual Conference, held earlier this year. Toni took part in promoting, as well as co-hosting a session at the conference – this year entitled Cambridge Women Can.

The 2021 WLC’s conference recognised the impact of the pandemic and took a closer look at flexibility and the future of work; how to build resilience; creating actionable equity, diversity, and inclusion agendas and how to shape a sustainable mindset.

Toni hosted the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion panel entitled “Building Beyond the Buzzwords”, with panelists from Goldman Sachs, Brewin Dolphin, GSK, and Citi Bank.

She says, “I was honoured to co-host the session with our Cambridge Judge faculty, Professor Lionel Paolella. It was very gracious of the Professor to allow a student to share the ‘stage’ with him. Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is a movement which I hold close to my heart.”

There are 15 categories in the Women of the Future Awards this year, including sectors such as Arts and Culture, Business, Media, Science and Sport. The awards, founded by Pinky Lilani CBE DL in 2006 and supported by Aviva, aim to recognise young women, and provide a platform for the pipeline of female talent in the UK. The MBA Star Award category is sponsored by Coca Cola Euro Pacific partners.

Representing Barbados on her career journey

Representing her home country of Barbados, Toni said, “Raised by my mother and grandmother who are Barbadian educators, there has always been a great appreciation for the British educational system and the global reputation and embodiment of excellence associated with the University of Cambridge. When applying to business schools, the Cambridge MBA was by far the most exciting curriculum. The specialisation components and one-year programme were commendatory, as I now aim to pivot my professional career post-MBA.”

Toni is shortly due to start a role at JP Morgan Asset Management as Vice President – Marketing Manager, UK Marketing, based in London.

The Women of Future Awards winners will be announced on 10 November 2021.