Recognizing Outstanding Villanova Women

Michele Gianforcaro, Mentor Program

Michele Gianfacaro

Imagine going through one of the most confusing and complicated times of your young adult life. Now imagine going through the same time but with the support of someone who has successfully navigated the same experience. This is exactly what Michele Gianforcaro ’89 has done for the students of the Villanova School of Business. She has made it possible for current students to have the opportunity to connect with alumni for mentoring as they cope with the pressures of deciding on their career path.

Michele knows firsthand the importance of mentoring and how Villanova can benefit from such a program. In 1989, Michele graduated Villanova with a degree in Accounting. She has about 20 years of experience working for corporations such as GlaxoSmithKline, PwC, and Coopers & Lybrand as a CPA with involvement in sales, marketing and operations.

The Villanova School of Business Mentor Program launched in January 2014, during National Mentoring Month, as a pilot program for approximately 100 women undergraduates. The pilot proved to be so successful that students, both women and men, were requesting to be part of it.  As a result, the program was expanded to all VSB students. Today, one in every three students of the Class of ’18 has opted into the program!  

Utilizing specialized mentoring software, the Mentor Program is designed to match students to alumni with similar interests and experiences, enabling one-on-one relationships between students and professionals. The Program provides a bridge between the classroom and the professional world.  Students receive suggestions, guidance and direction from professionals based on real world experience on possible career paths, professional and leadership development and how to network to find the right opportunity.

The Mentor Program highlights the Villanova community and re-engages alumni in an impactful way to “give back” as well as “pay it forward”.  Alumni from the Classes of 1980 to 2013 are participating and often volunteer to provide students support and direction that was not available to them. Mentors are active in the Mentor Program in a variety of ways, often serving as ambassadors within their company recruiting other Villanovans to join the Program or as members of the Advisory Board.  The 2016-2017 Advisory Board consists of 32 Villanovans from the Classes of 1992 to 2018, 91% of which are women.  You can learn more about the Advisory Board here.

mentor pair

Both mentors and mentees continually express the benefits that each receives from the program. Mentor Diane Manning ’82 works at JP Morgan says, “Take the chance! You’ll be thrilled how much you get out of it. It’s worth the time.” Mentee Agnes Mukuiya ’16 graduated as a MIS Major and says, “My mentor’s openness enables me to be free to share all of my experiences, both good and bad.” The feedback from both mentors and mentees has been overwhelmingly positive, encouraging the continued expansion of the program. 95% of survey respondents said they would recommend the Mentor Program to their peers, students and alumni! Most recently, students with minors in Business have been invited to participate further underscoring its popularity. In addition, there are two tracks which are also growing as part of the Mentor Program, MBA and MSF.

Without Michele’s hard work and dedication, the Mentor Program would likely not have gotten off the ground.  If not for her efforts, students would presumably be navigating through this difficult and uncertain time in their lives without the guidance of likeminded professionals. Michele’s vision for the future is to expand the Mentor Program across campus to all colleges. According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology,

“Research shows that those who are mentored achieve greater career advancement, higher work satisfaction and success, and greater future compensation than those who are not mentored.”

Students across disciplines would benefit from forming relationships with mentors to help guide them through their career growth and development. Michele has brought Villanovans together and helped to build long-lasting, impactful connections that will last well beyond graduation.

For more information on the Villanova School of Business Mentor Program:

To join the Mentor Program as an alumni mentor: and click on Undergraduate Program to complete your mentor profile.

For additional information, please contact

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Cheryl Carleton
Director, Villanova Women's Professional Network

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