Simon Schwartz (MBA 2019) and Kin Man Claudia Chau (MBA 2020) talk about the impact of being awarded a scholarship for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Representing a historically unrepresented community
Simon Schwartz, Senior Customer Success Manager at TrueLayer, was a recipient of the LGBTQIA+ Community Scholarship (now renamed the ROMBA LGBTQIA+ Fellowship Scholarship).
The year before joining Cambridge Judge Business School, Simon came out as a gay man. It was relatively late in his life; he was 27. At that point, Simon promised himself that he was going to make up for lost time and be a positive force within the community. He aspired to be a role model and to drive equality not only for the LGBTQIA+ community but for all underrepresented groups.
“The LGBTQIA+ Community Scholarship came with the responsibility to represent a community that has been historically underrepresented,” says Simon.
Simon spotlights the pay gap between straight workers and their LGBTQIA+ colleagues. For example, a YouGov poll of 4,000 staff conducted in 2019 found that LGBTQIA+ employees take home an average 16% less per year than their straight colleagues in the UK. Simon made it his ambition to advocate for full equity and participation:
“I tried to contribute as much as I could back to the programme and the School. It is important to drive the conversation around Cambridge as a welcoming place to all, but we also need to take that message beyond just the walls of Cambridge and export it outwards.”
Validation and recognition
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Simon realised he had more to prove:
“The scholarship felt like a validation of everything I’d worked for. I felt that I was being recognised for being a member of the LGBTQ+ community and for the work that I was doing in this community. It validated that I have a right to this, I have a place.”
Simon continues, “The scholarship gave me more confidence to have conversations around being LGBTQ+, being able to voice this is who I am, and this is how I contribute to the communities of which I am a part, whether that’s a workplace community, an academic community or any other.”
Simon was Co-chair of Pride CJBS and introduced Cambridge Judge to Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA). ROMBA is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to increase the influence of the LGBTQIA+ community in business by educating, inspiring and connecting MBA students and alumni. CJBS has partnered with ROMBA and now offers a scholarship to two people each year who help the LGBTQIA+ community.
The first female recipient of the ROMBA LGBTQIA+ Fellowship Scholarship
Kin Man Claudia Chau, Senior Programme Manager, Transportation Sustainability at Amazon, was the first woman to receive the ROMBA LGBTQIA+ Fellowship Scholarship. ROMBA fellowship provided a platform to connect and work with the whole LGBTQIA+ community. She says, “The scholarship helped me to understand more about the challenges we face as members of the LGBTQIA+ community and what I myself could bring to Pride at CJBS.”
Claudia took part in a ROMBA’s Fellowship Retreat in San Francisco. The retreat is organised each summer for the incoming cohort to enable them to build their LGBTQIA+ network, develop leadership skills by working with corporate partners, network with ROMBA alumni, and learn how Reaching Out can support their careers both while in school and post-MBA.
“This experience helped me to figure out what I wanted to do after the MBA, as well as to find out more about different career options,” she says.
Claudia also participated in ROMBA’s Summer Trek, an opportunity for admitted MBA students to connect with a range of top-tier companies looking for MBA talent. The treks focus on finance, consulting, technology, marketing/retail and healthcare. Each trek has a different industry focus and allows students to get a feel for a “day in the life”.
Networking with other LGBTQIA+ MBAs across the globe
“The ROMBA scholarship gave me the opportunity to meet with other LGBTQIA+ MBAs all over the world and to share what we can do from a school LGBTQIA+ level to improve diversity and inclusion, or just to generate greater exposure in the business world. It helped us collaborate on LGBTQIA+ club initiatives and supported us in raising awareness within our school. The ROMBA fellowship is a very close community and I feel very grateful to be part of it,” says Claudia.
Learning how to be a better leader and manager
Claudia is applying what she learned from her time at CJBS to Glamazon, Amazon’s LGBTQ+ network. “I hope to keep contributing to the community, especially by helping younger LGBTQ+ to explore their professional interests and career options, to not be bounded by how they are seen by others, and to empower them to chase their dreams courageously.”
Claudia welcomes Cambridge Judge’s efforts to increase diversity in the MBA cohort: “When Mauro Guillén took up office as Dean of Cambridge Judge, he immediately asked to meet our group. He showed us a great deal of support, as well as increased the number of scholarship recipients from one to two. I can see that the School is putting greater efforts into fostering diversity in the cohort.”