In Conversation: EMBAs and women’s careers
Alumnae from leading UK business schools talk about their experiences of undertaking an EMBA, and how it has helped them in their careers.
Hello, everyone. I’m Professor Jennifer Howard-Grenville. I’m the Diageo Professor of Organisation Studies at the Cambridge Judge Business School. And I’m super excited that you’re all joining us today for what’s going to be a really inspiring panel and dialogue with fantastic EMBA alumni from the top four UK business schools.
So I’m going to allow our alumni to introduce themselves in a few moments. But I’m really delighted to be joined by these four inspiring women who’ve recently completed their Executive MBAs at one of these four schools. And they’re going to talk to us about their experiences, about the value that they derive from investing in themselves and investing in the EMBA.
And also we hope to have a really good conversation about your concerns, your questions, and the possibilities that you’re considering. So I’ll remind you that there is a Q&A section. So please throughout the event make sure that you enter your questions into the Q&A. We will try to get to them with as many as possible as we move throughout the programme. And of course, we’ll be answering most of them towards the end.
But before we dive into the introductions, I’d love to know where everyone is joining us from. So if we can have the first poll come up. Please just enter your responses and we’ll see who we’ve got in the room. OK, what have we got in terms of the responses? Where are we coming from? Can we see the slide with the results?
OK. So sorry I’m trying to see the slides with the results. OK, fantastic. We’ve got people from all over the world. More than half of us are in the UK right now. But plenty of people joining from Europe, the Middle East, North America good morning, Latin America good morning, Asia good evening, Africa good afternoon that’s fantastic. And I didn’t expect that many from Oceana but if you were here welcome.
So that’s not surprising. So that’s fantastic. We’re delighted to have you with us. And as I mentioned we’re all representing the top four UK business schools. And without further ado, I’d love to jump in and have Stephanie from Oxford Saïd introduce ourselves for a couple of minutes, Stephanie.
Thank you very much, Jennifer I also very excited to be here. As Jen said, my name is Stephanie Grissios. I’m Canadian born and I’ve lived in a few different places but right now I’m based in Oxford. By training I’m a mechanical engineer and I spent what I call my first career in the gold mining sector.
And I slowly moved from the technical side towards project management and into more of the strategic decision making and risk management on the business side. And at that point I realised I needed more knowledge on that business side. So I started looking at MBA programmes.
I was the sole earner in our family at the time. So I was only looking at exec programmes because I wasn’t in a position to take a year of working. So when I did start the EMBA at Oxford at Saïd Business School, my family and I were living in Greece. And my children were six months old and two and half years old. During the EMBA for various different reasons, we moved from Greece to Turkey and then bounced around a bit and landed in the UK.
I also transitioned from working full time to working on contract and as an independent consultant. And ultimately near the end of my degree programme founded my own company. Blending the EMBA with the family with work, with work transitions and international moves was definitely not an easy journey. But even in the challenge of that blending act, I found immense personal growth and learning even aside from the knowledge and the network I gained in the programme.
I also engaged with the Business School and have remained engaged in everything from conversations around how EMBA programmes can better support women, particularly mothers with young children because that was me. Supporting the Business School to forge new partnerships that can broaden access to resources. And I now tutor on some of the Business Schools’ programmes and sit on the Alumni Advisory council.
In my day job I’m building the new company I mentioned, which delivers climate risk advisory services. And we’re also developing enterprise level software solutions for management of climate risks. I did the EMBA because I knew I wanted to make a change. But I didn’t really know how or what that would look like.
So I was hoping the EMBA would give me three things a broader perspective, a wider network, and inspiration through the knowledge I would gain. And it definitely delivered on all three and I’ll be happy to talk about that a bit more a few minutes.
Brilliant. I promised inspiring. And so would the first out of the gate Stephanie that’s super inspiring. And I think especially the conditions under which you started the EMBA and completed the EMBA and all of you accomplished in between. It’s just really exciting to hear that you just jumped into it with both feet and two small children too.
So that’s excellent. It’s fantastic to have your time today. Suzy, let’s move on to Suzy from the London Business School. If you could take a couple of minutes and introduce yourself.
Absolutely thank you Jennifer. And Stephanie and I may have had a first career that had some overlap. So my name Suzy Shaw, I did the Executive MBA at London Business School in 2017 and ’18. So a couple of years out now. Originally when I started the EMBA or was looking at it. I was originally looking at it for personal growth so to explore my own curiosity.
Then my background prior to that point is coming from the mining industry. I spent about 12 years in Rio Tinto in Australia. If you can hear from my accent in Africa leading teams there in Mozambique and then moving to the UK. But at the time of actually looking to undertake an Executive MBA, I was a chief of staff role to one of our group executives. And was really just looking at broadening my own general understanding of business, expanding my network, and exploring my own intellectual curiosity.
Having done the EMBA. In my final year having met with some amazing classmates understanding more about the businesses and the backgrounds that they came from, I did look at career transition, which was not my original intention. So actually coming out of the Executive MBA, I then explored some different options.
I worked for a startup for a little while just to see what that was like. Which was in a sector completely different to what I had done before. I also joined on a volunteer basis, I was a strategy advisor to a foundation here in the UK. And ultimately joined McKinsey as an expert in their organisation practise. And that wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for one of the experiences and the knowledge that I gained from the EMBA.
Two, was the interest that I took from my classmates and understanding what sounds really intriguing from their backgrounds and what things that I might like to do in the next phase of my career.
And thirdly, just the connection with the Business School and the opportunities that presented through readiness to pitch myself in a completely new space. They’re really thrilled to be here today. Very happy to answer any of the questions that we pose or that you have in mind that you want to be able to have answered today. Thanks Jennifer.
Brilliant. Thank you Suzy. And we will see in a moment you don’t need to have a prior career in the mining industry to pursue the EMBA. But again, super inspiring background. And it’s really fabulous that you’re already speaking to the ways in which the EMBA opened you up to possibilities that you hadn’t even considered previously and how you gave you new ways to think and see through your classmates.
I always think as a faculty member who was privileged to teach EMBA students, I learned so much from you. So when you hear the panellists talking about how much they were inspired by and learned from an exchange with their classmates. I think that’s also something that I will say from the faculty side is really incredible.
So moving along Yasrine is joining us from the Cambridge Judge Business School which is my Business School. And she has an equally exciting and inspiring background and set of opportunities ahead. So over to you, Yasrine.
Thank you Jen. Hi, everyone. So yes my name is Yasrine Ibnyahya. I am half French, half Moroccan. I grew up in Morocco, studied in France and UK and worked mostly in the US and UK. And I completed my two years Executive MBA from Cambridge Judge Business School in 2018.
I’ve been working for 15 years now in the space industry. And today I am in charge of innovation as the senior director of advanced concepts and technologies for a satellite operator called Inmarsat. But I am an engineer first and foremost. And I was already becoming an expert in my field before joining the EMBA. But something was missing.
And I wanted to be a more rounded professional not only with strong space knowledge and expertise, but also learning about the usual topics like finance, strategy, innovation, entrepreneurship, how to become a great leader, a team manager. So funny enough I thought that was the main purpose I was doing the EMBA for.
That very little did I know that the biggest outcome from this experience was actually three key outcomes. Number 1, self-confidence, because now I can be in a room full of executives and feel like I can speak the same language as them. So it makes things much easier.
Number 2, is the network. As Jen said earlier, you will be sharing two years with amazing people, super knowledgeable from their respective industry that have similar ambitions than yours. And some of them will become very long term friendships. Others will remain in the network circle. But one thing is sure is that you will always have them on speed dial should you need any advice or follow up any discussion.
And lastly, and perhaps the most surprising thing that happened to me after the Executive MBA is that I had absolutely no idea that I would become an entrepreneur and an investor. We created and launched within my cohorts an angel investment fund called Oxbridge Angels.
It is an investment fund that you may have heard about because now we’re expanding it to London, Oxford and Cambridge EMBAs. And I am the chair of the investment committee for these firms. So brand new expertise I’m building up for the last two years. So I guess to conclude I’d say when you invest in yourself a lot of amazing things happen to you professionally, personally. And by going through this adventure you open your new path you may not have necessarily envisaged before joining the EMBA.
That’s fantastic. Thank you Yasrine. Again, super inspiring and the way that you talked about the EMBA is exactly I think what would resonate with many no matter what their background. Being in the space industry is really unique but being able to talk the language of business, being comfortable in those conversations where decisions get made. And then this unexpected pivot that you’ve made towards becoming an angel investor is also a really exciting opportunity that it opened up.
So I think, if the last year has taught us anything, it’s that we don’t know really what to expect next. So I imagine for many people in the audience that question that you might have is, is this the right thing to do now? Is it the right thing to do period? When is the right time?
And I think those are some important questions that we should consider because it’s fantastic seeing someone who’s just finished the programme or had a couple of years out of the programme. And being able to see how they make sense of it. But I think for those people who are in a position of getting ready to think about what’s next. We should talk carefully about what those considerations are.
But it’s super exciting to see how it’s delivered for all of you. A whole set of skills that you felt that you would gain. A whole network that you knew that you would gain. And then some real surprises and exciting opportunities that come from that.
So I’m sorry to say Claire from Imperial was with us until she had a fire alarm. So things happen. And so she has physically had to remove herself, safety first. And we will welcome back Claire and introduce her or allow her to introduce herself at any moment. But her career is more in finance and she has completed the Imperial EMBA as I mentioned. So I hope she’ll join us when she can but she’s got important things to do right now.
So I’d like to get to the second polling question because I think you’re all here trying to think about this question of is the EMBA right for me? And this poll is just asking you what are some of the reservations you have about the programme? So I’m going to give you a couple of minutes to complete that. And then we’ll see what the responses are and we’ll have a little discussion with our panellists around those.
OK, we’re going to wait a couple of minutes while your responses come in on the poll. And of course, there might be some items that are in the poll that you’re concerned about but they’re not offered as options. So feel free to drop those into Q&A. I can see some questions coming in already to the Q&A. So that’s fantastic.
OK, good questions. Keep them coming. OK. I’m going to wait for about another 30 seconds and then we’ll close the poll and see what we’ve got. So get your responses in. OK. Let’s close that poll and see what the responses are.
So the most important thing I think if I’m reading it correctly from many of you seems to be around funding. And I can see some questions coming in that are really important, which is when we’re talking about the issue of and I’m using the term investing in yourself. I think we can think of that in different ways.
It is a financial investment. It’s a investment in time, it’s an investment of energy, it’s an emotional investment, it’s an investment that might involve other people who support you and are in your network. So I think we need to think carefully about the funding aspect. Because many of you say that that’s one of your reservations. The impact of the EMBA is it worth it? And then again, we can talk about worth in lots of different ways.
So the emphasis I think that our panellists have put on so far is on the personal growth that they gained. But I see some questions coming in already about will I get a salary? Will I get a salary that’s significantly incremented to what male participant in an EMBA might get? And those are critical questions to ask.
So those are some of the key concerns. And then about a third of you responding that you’re concerned about potential lack of support from your employer. Potential concern about juggling family or care responsibilities presumably while undertaking an EMBA. And less important, I’m happy to see is concerns about the impact of the pandemic and making the leap. So you feel ready but you need some sense that it’s going to be worth it.
You have a strong support network, it looks like. So we need a sense that it’s going to be worth it from the point of view of ourselves. And that we can overcome some of the concerns about support from employers.
So now I’m just going to literally hand it over back over to the panellists to speak to some of those key concerns and help the audience make sense to them. And then we’ll go more directly into the questions. So I’m proposing that we go in the same order that we did. Stephanie are you happy to jump in on any of those key potential concerns?
Yeah, I think there’s a lot of great questions. So I’ll probably jump all over the place of that and trying to answer them. One I saw was, did you ever feel overwhelmed or overstretched? Yes, definitely there were days and weeks and times where I felt very overwhelmed and overstretched. And I actually finished my programme our last three modules went online due to COVID.
So you can have the COVID factor into my experience as well. But Yeah, yeah, definitely, I think for me that was part of the learning journey. I definitely came out of the programme better able to prioritise my time and how I view my time and what I want to put my time and commitments towards. And how to balance I don’t have a solution but how to better balance those various priorities in life.
So definitely, to Alex and I also I’m the primary caregiver in my family. My husband is incredibly supportive and involved. But the kids still on my mummy at least in our family. So I think there’s never going to be a good time, especially if you’re in that family stage of life. And you’re balancing work, family, and career. There’s never going to be a good or a perfect time to do a programme like this.
So in that sense maybe every time is a good time. But it’s definitely important to try and look forward and put in place the supports that you’ll need. And that means getting your spouse on board. And perhaps looking to external supports whether that’s family or friends or additional availability of child care that can be flexible. There’s lots of different shapes and forms but that take. That can take for you and depending on where you are, and what you are most expecting to be the challenge.
I think just more broadly in terms of doing it or deciding to do it. I think there were a few comments about business decisions versus emotional decisions. I’m just me but I still make decisions fairly emotionally. I have a business side and business decisions as well but those two need to integrate for me.
So for me it was a decision on both of those factors. And I think often women need to convince yourself and negotiate with yourself first before you can effectively negotiate with the others. But you’ll need your support system, whether that’s your spouse or your employer or other aspects of what could be a support system.
So you need to recognise for you that it’s a decision you want to make and the value of that. Speaking to the family context, definitely it was a difficult decision when considering how it would impact the other people in my family and my kids. But I think it’s been worthwhile for our family. It’s completely changed my career. And really what our family looks like- not looks like where we sit and the activities we’re doing and where we live.
But my kids still– my son asked the other day when I was going back to school again because we used that experience to embed the importance of lifelong learning and continuous improvement. So I’ll stop there because I’m sure the other panellists have lots but really interesting questions and please feel free to reach out after the webinar and I’m happy to share some more on some of them.
Super, that’s really helpful Stephanie and I think having the support in place but also creating it as I guess an adventure that all of you are going on and learning from. Suzy, some of the reservations that have come in again. What advice would you give the audience?
Absolutely so I might hone in a little bit more on, I’ve seen some around funding and around employer support. I know Stephanie spoke a lot to the family set up as well, which were a really strong point. So in terms of how I found value with the employer support was I think be loud about what you were doing.
There is a tendency. And I certainly do this so I’m speaking from learning rather than from being perfect at the outset. But in the first year I thought that I could do the Executive MBA in my spare time, and not have any impact on work. And if I was in class on a Friday that I could pick up that whole day’s worth of work somewhere else in the week. It’s really not possible. Something has to give.
So I think the recommendation that I give there and the learning from my second year was actually being loud about what I was doing and why and the benefit to my work at the time. So for example, in the first month there was a great lecture that I was a part of that then we had a work context where I was able to apply that learning straight away. Which to me is another benefit of the Exec MBA. It’s being able to apply the learning straight away both for yourself but also potentially to add value to your organisation, which I think helps with two things.
One, it helps we’re then giving a little bit of the flex on the commitment and the support that is needed as well because you can see that payoff certainly in that example my leader could. And secondly, it allows you to say look, I can’t do this because I’m doing this. And that was very helpful for me. But more in the second year when I learned that lesson that there are not more than 24 hours in the day.
And to Stephanie’s point fierce prioritisation, delegates the things that actually don’t work across the whole spectrum of your life. Delegate the things that don’t actually require you personally to do them. So I had this learning myself but I also saw this with some of my classmates. It was a great opportunity for them to build their confidence and the experience of their teams at work because they were delegating a little bit more.
So there are actually some unintended benefits that can come from that kind of fierce prioritisation too. In terms of employer support, I saw a few questions come into the chat. And I think one particularly directed for those who maybe come more from HR background or backgrounds that aren’t typical business engineering or finance areas.
I think that is exactly the rationale is that having people who have rounded business skills that are in for example HR or non-traditional roles helps really with the focus on quality decision making, consideration of across a whole range of different aspects. And can really create better rounded business people. And that certainly the transition that I was able to forge out of people and organisational HR specifically into a broader strategy and people consulting.
Super that’s really helpful Suzy, keep going, yeah
No, I was just going to say, I might just leave it there just to focus on that one space because I’m sure that Yasrine will have some extra comments.
Fantastic. I appreciate you and thank you again for everyone whose questions are coming in. And Suzy for picking up on these really important questions of negotiating support with your employer but also in the sense that you’ve learned that it is a two way street. So A, you might negotiate certain types of support and expectations but by definition you don’t really know until you’re in it what you’ll need.
So I love the fierce prioritisation and the being loud and I think as women actually that is something that might become– that is really important to show the value to the organisation. I think from a faculty point of view also many times, not always, but many times the work that is set and the lessons that are conveyed in the courses, in the coursework, in the lectures.
The intention is to actually invite people to reflect very explicitly on their experiences. Either within classroom discussions or in your project team projects or an individual assessed work. And so there will be ways that if you want to you can showcase what you’re doing and what you’re learning to your employer. So I think it’s worth thinking about. It’s like anything there’s trade offs. So you won’t be able to do as much. But on the other hand, you will bring more to the organisation. And I think it’s really helpful to have those perspectives.
I can see a number of questions coming in about this question of employer support and understanding that it’s a two way street. I think is trying to eyes wide open around that. So thank you Suzy. We’ll switch over to Yasrine now. And Yasrine, whatever you wanted to add on some of the reservations that have come in or the questions that have so far been raised about people’s concerns, about the EMBA.
Just one quick reminder that even though we are representing the four top UK business schools in terms of EMBA programmes, we all do have slightly different emphases in terms of what we’re looking for, slightly different programmes. And so I’ve seen a number of questions coming in about what do we weigh most? And how much work experience is enough? And how much quantitative skill is needed or what have you? What is the right amount of preparation?
And I encourage us to have conversations about those. But also remind you that, please go directly to the School that you might be interested in. Talk to them talk to their admissions people for some of those more specific questions. So if there are very specific things you have there’s other places that you might be able to get them answered. So without further ado over to you Yasrine.
Yes, thank you. I’m actually I will jump on the main topic, which was around getting employer support and how do you manage to get that. And it’s about being a little bit strategic about it in terms of figuring out what would benefit your employer if they were going to support you financially. I was lucky. I started with rejection.
I got told several times no they’re not going to fund it for me. But I didn’t take no for an answer. And I try to find ways of justifying why it is beneficial for my employer by saying, in the case of Cambridge I know there’s a consulting project. I’ve promised to do it on the challenges of the company. There’s an individual thesis to write. I promise as well to do it on the basis of the challenges of the company.
And by adding up the sum of all of that tells me that consultancy services would have gotten cost 50K, 100K. I don’t know you can the simulation yourself. And therefore if you’re funding half of my EMBA, actually you’re getting a lot of free work. And so you can strategize like that. You can also commit for promising to stay in the company for x amount of years in exchange for their support. You can get loans with your company as opposed to banks.
So there’s a lot of things that can be done to get that support beyond also what Suzy mentioned earlier, which is taking that Friday off at the beginning feels like we’re super warriors. And we can do it all. And actually we do need that day off and relax, support from our managers particularly to handle the pressure.
So yeah that was one point highlighting the fact that this marks in the way you’re presenting it to your employer besides just asking for funding. In terms of– I don’t know what other topics you want me to cover but for me the impact about why you’re doing it is very different from person to person. And there isn’t a one size fits all for anyone. Some people will do it because they’re trying to change industry.
In my case, it was not the case. I love the space industry. I was never planning to change the industry. I just wanted to be a much rounded engineer that can become a leader in that sector. But other people they definitely benefited from the EMBA to switch completely industry. And you will realise by hearing people talking in the classroom that’s actually being a senior leader in the automotive industry or in the pharmaceutical industry actually have pretty similar challenges to tackle.
And it’s very interesting to see how different industries are tackling them because then you become much more aware and you can cross pollinate each other with approaches that could be very beneficial.
So as you said earlier, Jennifer is– there’s the teacher giving you the foundation and the tools and the theory. And there’s a classroom augmenting that with real case scenarios that makes it suddenly much more real and tangible. Yeah, I don’t know if there’s any other question you want me to cover because everything has been quite elaborated before.
No that’s fantastic. And I think the three of you have done a fantastic job speaking to the different complimentary aspects of the reservations people had and also the questions that are coming in that are sort of reinforcing those. So I think the point about funding don’t take no ones for an answer necessarily. And I love Yasrine the idea of reminding them how much they might pay in consulting services for a number of projects and reflections that you were able to make.
And so I guess I just want to double check. I don’t see Claire has been able to join us yet but I don’t want to miss her if she is. Claire are you with us again? OK, what we can conclude is Imperial has very robust fire safety procedures. So I do not want to leave Imperial out of the conversation. But OK.
So we had a couple of other questions coming in and I think they do relate partly to again these topics of funding. Topics of career transition, how important is it to say that you have one. And I think it’s really clear that we all know that many things happen on the EMBA that arise around career opportunities that are unforeseen.
So I think being honest about where you’re at with those, don’t ever expect in your application you would have to put in something to make it sound like you’re going to do something that a typical EMBA does. Because I think even from the three panellists we have here with us and Claire’s experience as you know they’re all very, very diverse.
OK, so let me come back to just a final question before we move into some of the more specific questions that have been raised. In the end, has it been worth it? And what has been your biggest surprise to the panellists? In terms of that, has it been worth it question? I think you’ve touched on some things.
But has it been worth it at the end of the day, with all that you’ve had to go through? And what has been your biggest surprise in terms of what’s been worthwhile? We’ll go in any order, but we have been going with Stephanie first. So Stephanie are you ready?
Sure, I’m happy to answer that. The short answer is yes, it was worth it. It was an interesting journey, I’d say. Saïd Business School uses the word transformational and that was certainly true for me. It was a transformational journey for myself, my career, and my family as well. It was overall a fantastic experience. I would do it again, maybe not right away. I’d probably still need some recovery time. But I would definitely do it again.
And I think the embedding of the learning and some of the other panellists spoke about the network. I now have a group of 70 fantastic, amazing friends that I believe will be long term friendships that are around the world. So post COVID, I can go visit anywhere and have a friend there. And the learning and the growth from those individuals was equal to the learning that you gain from the programme itself and the content.
So absolutely it was worth it. I’m glad I made the decision, would do it again. Was it easy? No, it was not easy and there were days and weeks where I questioned if I should continue it or if I would get through it. But I would do it again. The biggest surprise I think was where I ended up out of it. I went into it expecting to have some kind of pivotal change and I didn’t know what that was. And then I ended up leaving it and stepping into the climate space and founding a company.
And I never would have told you at the beginning of that, that it was a possibility that I would become an entrepreneur and found my company and step into a completely different space, which some of my work still embeds into the mining sector as well. So the biggest surprise I think was where I ended up. I wouldn’t have foreseen that. But absolutely a worthwhile experience. And something I would do again and would recommend as an experience and a personal learning and growth journey.
That’s fantastic. Thank you, Stephanie. Let’s just go in order again actually. Suzy if you could say, was it worth it? And what was the big surprise about the worthwhileness?
It was absolutely worth it. I suspect that you won’t hear too many people on the panel today saying it wasn’t worth it. They were definitely crunchie moment. There was definitely not always a great deal of sleep. But in terms of the impact and enjoyment of the two years and the breadth of experience and the broadening of my mind was absolutely worth it.
You might remember from the start that I said that my original intention was just my own academic curiosity. I wanted to learn from the professors. And was less interested actually in anything to do with what I was being told at the time was a great network and my peers and all of that piece. And that was by far the biggest learning for me. Was how much value I actually got from my peers in the classroom.
My peers outside of the classroom being the alumni that you can connect with and that just pay it forward type of mentality that comes from that group and the willingness to help and support. And that goes two ways obviously. And so it was that really then became the catalyst for me to look at what my career would look like over the next 30 odd years.
And the one biggest learning or confidence piece that comes from that is the ability or the confidence that I can reshape my career, not just once, but many times across the remainder of my working life. Which I think previously I was very much focused on what I knew how to advance in that space and at much more comfortable both with the opportunities and the learnings and values that come from trying something else. And knowing that that’s OK.
That’s really interesting because I think, again, in the time that we’ve been through. It has been a profoundly disruptive time for many people’s lives obviously for many people’s careers. I mean the evidence is certainly here that women in particular have been more disrupted in many work roles and in many roles. And that will take time to recover from it. Will take ingenuity to recover from it. Will take organisational action to recover from.
But Suzy what you’re saying is really important, I think, to highlight which is while it might be really scary to leave the familiar or to move away from something that looks like we have a pathway or we have a progression ahead of us. And we know what it looks like to move into something different. To expose yourself to, you I love that you were here for the academic learning but you stayed for the network. Because as a professor again, we know full well, what we do in the classroom, we try our best to make it relevant, to make it exciting, to draw on the experiences of everyone concerned.
But really it’s the latter part it’s the experiences of everyone’s concern and mingling in a really profound way along with the tools and the frameworks that can really get the sparks flying and get people thinking a different way.
And I think for many of you. It’s also despite all of the other incredible things that you’re doing simultaneously, you are really moving outside something that has been familiar. And you’re exposing yourself to something that is unfamiliar, which by definition, builds character, builds resilience, builds confidence that you can do that again.
So the idea that it might lead to a career transition I see from some of the comments. There’s maybe a little bit of trepidation about that but it might lead to a life in which transition just becomes something that is more comfortable and more familiar. That’s fantastic, I’m going to sign up actually. Yasrine, I’m over to you with the question of was it worth it. And what was the big surprise out of that?
So was it worth it? I would say absolutely yes, I would definitely do it again, even if now I know the challenges it’s to be aware of. But I think I’ve become a better version of myself after doing the Executive MBA. I’ve done things that I was never imagining I was capable of. Juggling with all of these things and I was surprised to see myself creating a women’s network at work to bring women at work a little bit more under the spotlight. And helping them grow within the company.
I was surprised to be participating to Oxbridge Angels and being nominated as the chair of this investment committee, which I don’t have a finance background. So how come people have decided that I would be their leader for that. But yeah, you discover things in yourself that are really surprising. And the recognition of others’ lift you up in a way that you hadn’t expected.
So I also enjoy the things like living the life in Cambridge. Like when you join the University of Cambridge, you’re joining the Cambridge Judge Business School but also you’re affiliated to a College. This whole College affiliation, the fact that you belong to that College for the rest of your life and you’re discovering again, the student life and the history of those campuses was quite exciting. And I didn’t really expect. But overall, is the friendship, is the network is so many things and beyond what I had originally expected.
Fantastic. Thank you Yasrine. And I am very sorry, Claire is out of her building and will not be able to rejoin us. So I’m really sorry that we’re missing her voice in all of this because yet another perspective. But we will make sure that you can connect with Imperial College alumni if you’re interested in doing that after the event. But it looks like she’s going to be unable to join us.
However, let’s continue we don’t have too much longer left together. But I wanted to make sure that we have some time to talk about one of the questions that’s come in, which is essentially during the pandemic. We talked a lot about the role of networking and how important that is for the EMBA. I think we’re moving to a more optimistic point ahead with the pandemic but clearly travel, et cetera won’t be quite the same.
Any of our panellists, just feel free to jump in. How would you advise someone thinking about how to make the most of the networking opportunity if they’re choosing to enter the EMBA during the pandemic?
I can talk to that mind.
Yep, sorry further questions in the Q&A coming sorry go ahead
I was going to say I so I finished my programme in the pandemic doing my last three modules online starting last March as the pandemic hit. So I was very fortunate to have started the programme and have already formed some relationships. But I think that and maybe this is true for broader networking as well. You get out of it what you put into it.
So being deliberate about networking and building– not networking so much as building relationships. I think within your class, your cohort, across other cohorts, and then broadly into the Business School that you’re a part of. It takes a deliberate effort and it takes time and investing in that and I think the approaching it as relationship building, less transactional and more a longer term relationship.
Building is perhaps a useful frame that will serve you much better in the long run. And I think I’ve found at least within my programme and the broader alumni network really a generosity of time and a willingness to engage just on the premise of “I’d love to hear what you’re doing and share what I’m doing and see what we could learn from each other”.
So I think it’s absolutely still possible, it’s not ideal on Zoom the way it would be in person. But I think it’s still possible. And I think the same holds true you’ll get out of it what you put into it. And viewing it as the ability to start to develop a web of networks of relationships rather than more transactional networking will serve you well and makes it possible.
Great. Anyone else want to speak to that in particular. I mean I think the others of you have graduated prior to the pandemic. And Stephanie there’s a difference as you pointed out sort of completing your studies in the pandemic. But I think we’re all in the same boat now in terms of networking. And I think what you’ve got is a sense.
And I’m very proud of our UK schools on this front of a real sense of community that builds between the EMBA. Certainly what we’ve seen, what I’ve seen personally despite being online this year. It’s actually almost a stronger community in some ways if people are willing to get into it.
So we do take building a cohort very, very seriously and all of these programmes. Keep the questions coming. And I would like to just get to a question of my own while a few more come in. But I think we want to speak explicitly to experience of being a woman in the EMBA programme.
I think many on the audience can probably guess that women are not overrepresented. But there are many other ways in which EMBA programmes are diverse and are trying to be more diverse. We had a question earlier about what experiences that you’ve had with neurodiversity. Or any challenges that you might have had coming up to learning on your EMBA programme.
So I guess just what has been your experience being a woman or being someone who might not have felt coming in that they were the typical profile of an EMBA student. And how has that played out for you? I’m going to start if you don’t mind backwards as it were. Yasrine would you like to go first if you have something on this topic.
Yes, so in my cohort, it was a typical cohort in other words, a very small female representation in that cohort. And I don’t think there has been any cohort after that. That managed to get to a level of parity and it’s still a challenge. Why is it a challenge?
For reasons I think women take a little bit longer to gain seniority in the workplace. Or so it takes a little bit longer for us for various reasons, personal, and also because the workplace is I feel a very male driven and dominated way of growing, which might not fit with the nature of women.
How can we change that? I think women need support from their employers. They need support from financial and time and a little bit of almost like sponsoring. I think we talk a lot about mentoring and things like that. But so I think it’s important to also sponsor women in the workplace. And if a senior leader, men or women identify a good potential, there needs to be taken up and given those tools to grow and maybe being funded in for Executive Education.
I didn’t feel like the difference of being a man or woman in the cohorts. I mean we were all students studying together. I didn’t feel any challenge with that regards. But is how do you monetize it afterwards as well, which is a challenge too. Suzy you mentioned earlier you need to be more vocal. I was very shy, I was feeling shameful almost that I was doing an EMBA.
I was hiding it from everyone, fearing jealousy, fearing people using that against me, and not promoting me or things like that because I was already getting funded for it and things like that. So it took me a while before I assumed that yes, I’m doing it and I’m proud of it and actually this is my competitive edge. And I’m going to use that going forward and being proud of it.
So I don’t know if I’m fully answering your question. But yeah, there are challenges that women face. And I think the best thing that Schools can do as well is providing not discounts but you see what I mean like financial support also from the Schools themselves to help more women. Because often it is not only to the time and the support from family and the obligations but it’s also simply financial.
And to close that gap, initiatives needs to be taken with quartiles, with financial incentives, with various supports that can be provided to the woman so they can become the future leaders in the corporate world and close that gap that we’re still facing today.
Thank you Yasrine. Very thoughtful and you’re absolutely right. I mean, it’s incumbent on everyone’s part to work on this. Not only around women’s representation, but for all other forms in which we tend to not attain representation and inclusion. And it’s not just the numbers. Obviously, it’s how people are viewed at work and how they contribute.
And I think it’s interesting to hear about even after you were done your own recognition that it was important to own what you had done and to own its value to your employer. And that sounds like that’s been really valuable to you and obviously to your employer. So that’s fantastic. And this isn’t just obviously a women’s issue, it’s the notion of everyone supporting a more diverse workforce and a more diverse learning environment is really crucial.
So I think there was a question actually that came in from someone saying to me what have I seen change over the years in terms of teaching content. And we’ve always had things like leadership and organisational behaviour, strategy marketing, finance you name it accounting.
Operations management on the core curriculum for EMBAs and for MBAs. I will say in the last I’ve been doing this a long time. And I have taught environmental sustainability actually for decades myself. But in the last five years, even the last three years, there has been an explosion of interest in topics like that.
In topics like how do we support gender diversity and other forms of diversity and inclusion in organisations. One of my EMBA students whose project I supervised was super excited that our core strategy professor had taken time in his lecture to talk about gender and inclusion based on his research in this area.
So I think these topics that we as faculty might have been committed to individually or knew were important are becoming more and more mainstream. And I think no matter what programme you enter you will see them. You will hear them. You need to ask for them to be spoken to not just in terms of the broad ideas but in terms of the research led ideas. And I think that’s something that all of the Schools will expose you to.
I’m definitely trends around sustainability around different forms of leadership. Leadership for responsibility, ethical considerations. These are all much more in the agenda along with all the other things that we’re all there. OK. So I think did we have anyone else on the panel? Stephanie, did you want to speak to this issue of diversity or did we want to get back to some of the audience questions? I’ll just let you.
So I’ll just quickly say I agree with a lot of what Yasrine said. I think the difference is somewhat external to the programme itself. In that it’s differences and barriers to accessing it and then the support you need to survive and thrive. And then the ability to monetize it after.
I also think the use of the word shameful that Yasrine said. I think that’s really important because it can feel like it’s a shameful decision to take given the breadth and depth of responsibilities that women have. I think women tend to feel the need to make more communal decisions that lend broad value instead of selfish value.
And that’s a really important part of the equation. Is it a selfish decision? Maybe it is. But that’s OK. It’s OK, to do something for ourselves. And maybe it’s not as selfish as you think. There’s immense value for your employer.
For your future employer, your family in terms of longer term earning potential and the values that you want to display to your children perhaps. And then working towards as a woman to actually change some of the equality gaps that still exist. So I think Yasrine framed it really well, those would be my additions.
Thank you, Stephanie. And Suzy, are you happy to move on to the next questions? One final thing on the diversity piece, just a different lens, which was one of the experiences for me you have study groups. And you are responsible for delivering part of your academic requirements as a study group. And actually somebody who had come from one industry, where there’s engineers and geologists and finance folks. And we all thinking the same way or there’s like a cultural component that comes there.
Actually I learned a lot about not the diversity of me as a woman but actually being able to be inclusive with my study group who all came from very different backgrounds, had very different ways of working and expectations. And actually that gave me some new skills, which were useful in leading teams or being part of self managed teams, which is essentially what we’re talking about here. Outside of obviously me being a woman which was not at parity in the overall study cohort.
Fantastic Suzy. Thank you. And there’s another recent question come in about age diversity too. And I think we could say that same thing, which is the EMBA is incredibly diverse in terms of background experience, where people are coming from, where they’re going, what shaped their lives to date. And one of the things just to get back to the question of what has changed in EMBA curricula over the years too is I think the emphasis on teamwork.
So not only having to deliver some of your assessed work through teams, but also the emphasis on knowing yourself and knowing others. And being able to work in teams and being able to work in diverse teams. And we want you to learn by doing. So there’s a lot that is accomplished in the EMBA.
But one of the explicit goals is to actually put you into work teams where you will not be working with someone who has the same background as you, who has the same perspective, who has the same skills, who has the same training because that’s life. And so I think the opportunity to do that in addition to what you’re doing already at work is an opportunity to learn and practise new skills, and open up to how that.
So I think anyone with concerns about am I going to fit the mould. I think we’re all probably saying there really isn’t a mould and actually the programmes your own learning and everyone else was learning benefits most from bringing all the diverse experiences together.
OK. So I am noticing the time. We have time flies when you’re online. I know there’s a few other questions that are in the chat. And some of them we have addressed earlier so we can catch up with you. Our panellists have spoken to a huge broad range of issues right now.
So we’re going to turn back to the audience for our last final poll. And if we can get that up right now, just asking you to reflect on what is one word that– following the conversation we’ve had today, do you feel like you’re more likely, less likely about the same inclined to apply to the EMBA programme.
So one or two words that capture your sentiment just right now. So we can get a sense of where you’re at and have the opportunity to follow up. So go ahead and do that poll and we will see what–
OK, we’ve got a couple more people just putting their responses in. So if you can wrap that up in the next moment or two, we will see where we’re at. And we can close the poll in about 10 seconds here. OK, let’s see what the poll results are now. OK. So it’s a bit of a loaded question, isn’t it? But it’s fantastic to see that 70% of you who responded are more likely to apply.
So that suggests that the panellists have spoken to some of the things that were on your mind. And hopefully put them at ease and given you some fantastic ways of thinking about their experiences of some tools that you might use as you approach these challenges around funding, around support from your employer, around support from your family or your network. And just around the programme in itself. And what will you get out of it.
Only a small fraction of you are less likely, which is absolutely fine too. It’s not for everyone and it’s not necessarily now. There’s a right time for everything. I think with difficult decisions like these personally, I’ve always thought there’s never a good time in the sense that it’s never going to be ideal. It’s never going to have all of the uncertainties addressed. But there’s never a bad time in the sense that I think you can see from our panellists.
If they’d waited for an optimal time to do this, they might never have done this. So there’s never a bad time to do it. Because the learning that you will be exposed to addresses some of the things that you were seeking and some of the opportunities that you have to. To give yourself that time and that reflection and it opens up all sorts of unforeseen possibilities as well.
So I hope this has been helpful to you. We’re all doing this online because it is an odd year, but moving forward I think the EMBA programmes at all of our Schools have an incredibly bright future. We’re really ambitious. We’re really excited to get into what we need to teach and learn about in the coming years. Because we will evolve out of this pandemic in a very different space in terms of our lives, in terms of our work. There are huge opportunities to embrace.
There are bigger challenges even that we have faced beforehand. And so I think it’s going to be a really exciting time to be a lifelong learner is one of our panellists put it. So I think it would be great to have you just invite you to follow up with any of the Schools that you’re interested in directly. To encourage you, no matter what you do to think about how you can grow and keep challenging yourself.
And thank you very much for your participation for your questions. Stephanie, Suzy, and Yasrine, and Claire unfortunately in her absence you’ve been absolutely fantastic. And I’m very sorry. And it’s been wonderful having you all here. Thank you so much for your time. And thank you for the audience for all your great questions.
Thank you very much.
Designed to work around your life
The Executive MBA at Cambridge Judge Business School is delivered over 16 weekends and four week-long blocks over a 20-month period, making it a feasible commitment for the busiest professionals. It is a demanding schedule, but the coursework involved is designed to complement your organisational responsibilities, as the programme encourages you to apply what you learn to your own role and organisation. The weekend format ensures that you can maintain a work-life balance and family responsibilities alongside your study schedule.
Partners & family
Cambridge is an ideal location for couples and families with children. Small, with green spaces and beautiful architecture, Cambridge also offers a wide range of cultural, educational and leisure activities and is easily accessible from the rest of the UK and overseas. With a cosmopolitan population, schools in Cambridge welcome children from around the world. The University also runs two nurseries in the city for University members, close to the School.
Why study an Executive MBA at Cambridge?
Scholarships for women
The Executive MBA Scholarship for Women is awarded to two outstanding female candidates each year and will contribute 30 per cent towards the tuition fee. We also offer circumstances-based Executive MBA bursaries and industry sector-based scholarships. Recipients of the Scholarship for Women act as ambassadors for the Executive MBA, making positive contributions to the class and playing an active role in women’s leadership at the Business School.
Access to an unparalleled network
The programme offers the opportunity for you to network with peers in your cohort and with the Cambridge Judge Business School community. You will also have access to the huge networking potential of the wider University: its students, academics and alumni. EMBA participants benefit from unparalleled opportunities to engage with and learn from innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders who contribute to the programme as guest speakers, mentors and coaches.
Developing dynamic, diverse leaders
Cambridge Judge Business School is empowering the next generation of women leaders, strengthening the professional business and leadership skills needed in demanding and influential roles.
Each year, the Executive MBA welcomes women and men from all over the world. Representing diverse industries, professional roles, backgrounds and lifestyles, our participants become part of a brilliant network of professional connections and friendships.
Meet Executive MBA alumnae
My name is Satoko Jenkins. I am CFO of Capcom EMEA, which is an international computer video game company, and I graduated from Judge Business School in 2017. I started working for Disney as a corporate finance team member, which had an opportunity to learn about, back then, 17 different business units under Disney umbrella and understanding their activities, understanding their numbers, and how effectively we can just do the business.
Business and finance really is not all about numbers. So finance just sounds like very much an accounting or a punching in numbers and so on, but it’s just really not that. So I really wanted to become a senior finance person who can contribute into the corporate strategy to drive the business better. I became the first female director of Capcom EMEA business, and it is quite an honourable achievement for me.
The most exciting thing about my work is that I constantly and continuously define how the business creates values, and it’s because that the computer video game industry is fast-moving and changing all the time and with the rise of technology. So I definitely have to know inside and out of the business as well as industry to make strategic decisions. It’s quite dynamic, and it’s quite exciting.
The reasons why I really wanted to join the Judge for the MBA programme were I had quite a good business experiences by the time I applied for the MBA programme. However, I knew that all the decisions I made in those business case scenarios and I experienced were quite limited. And I learned a lot from that, but I knew that there are so many other things that I could apply and think about. I wanted to know that what other methods and approaches I could actually have and apply for on each business challenge scenario, which may come up in the future.
I have quite a good educational background in Japan, and my career development could be quite comfortable if I stayed in Japan. But I wanted to be globally competitive, and then I knew that I needed something more on my CV to be taken serious, to be taken more competitive candidate. Around the time I applied for the MBA programme, my back then line manager, who was the CFO of the company, told me that he is thinking to leave the company in a couple of years, and he wanted to make me as a successor. But he said that, you’re not ready yet, you have to understand what leadership really means.
I have only just a couple of years to step up to the new challenge. What can I do to make myself more competitive and good enough to be a CFO? That’s why I applied for this programme. I thought, I have to learn some sort of a manly leadership skill and style in two years, but it was so wrong. I could accept myself, and I could embrace my skills, and that was the beautiful thing from this programme that I could actually just learn from.
I was genuinely surprised with such a flexibility of the faculty. My classmates are amazing people. We don’t only just share those kind of business related topics, we share good laughs and we do silly things together. And also, I made a couple of very close real friends. And at work, true friendship is quite hard to make. Those couple people are my treasure really, and we inspire each other, we share a lot of our challenges and dilemma, and we help each other.
From my experiences with Judge Business School, I could enhance my confidence a lot by accepting who I am and embracing my characteristics and personalities. I don’t have to reject my caring and sympathetic, empathetic nature. It’s not a weakness if it comes with competence. Be open-minded. Cambridge provides you and offers you so much. A couple of my classmates gave birth to their sons and daughters during the programme. What the school has helped them with was quite amazing. They could arrange additional catch-up, and they could arrange a different year to move into if they needed to take time off.
So it was a wonderful, wonderful arrangement, and I never thought that MBA programme could care that much of those personal circumstances for especially women who are just going through very busy family development and career development, all sort of things, and still just then are going back to school and they’re doing the business and study at the same time. It was wonderful support, and that is a flexibility I am so impressed with.
Of course, coming back to school while working full-time was quite difficult in terms of time management. However, whatever we learn at school was completely applicable to what we do at work. So it was something that we could spontaneously simultaneously can learn and apply, learn and apply, or think back, how could we actually have done just from what we learned?
The Cambridge brand attracts top players, top business people from around the world, so the peer network is the best thing ever we could actually just take from this programme. Not only the classmates from the same year, having the common platform as Cambridge attendees and graduates, it just instantly gives you access to anyone in this vast network. I learned a lot about myself, who I am, what I am good at, what I am not good at, what I have to improve. It’s completely up to you what you do. What you learn from it is down to your mindset, so be open.
My name is Shirley Okere. I currently work for Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals. I’m based in the UK. And what I do at Pfizer is I am the Director for Quality. And that’s supporting the quality operations function of the organisation. What excites me the most about what I do is the fact that I am supporting operations which enable valuable and required medicines to get to patients essentially.
So the role I do in supporting operations means that every activity that is required to get medication manufactured, checked, in the right state, is completed to the right standards. And that enables the patient to get a medicinal product that works for starters, that’s safe– and that’s the right products for them. Having spent some time growing up in West Africa, where my heritage lies, I was exposed to situations where perhaps there wasn’t the availability of good quality medication accessible to people across all classes. So I would say I was inspired by my environment. I was inspired by curiosity around how the medication works.
And I was inspired by wanting to do better and wanting to be part of being able to provide medication for people at large. As far as gender diversity goes and improving representation of women in executive leadership positions, I think there needs to be a holistic approach that looks at the pipeline– so looking at girls in schools being more engaged and interested in STEM subjects. And secondly, looking at a recruitment process, is showing that the recruitment process doesn’t necessarily have any inherent biases that might dissuade or might lead to women not being admitted into certain roles in the organisation.
And once the women are in the organisation, that the environment is conducive and takes into account nuances like women having to step back to start a family, for instance, making sure that when they do come back into the work-fold that the environment is conducive for them to continue to progress and they don’t stagnate. In the C-suite, for instance, if you do have a champion for gender diversity at that level– that that will encourage a discussion on how it aligns with business objectives and that will philtre through and ensure there’s enough resource that supports the agenda for gender diversity across organisation. And I think that that should be a more holistic approach. It’s not one solution– idea.
You probably need to start from the kind of grassroots level and work your way all the way to the top, ensuring the right support at each stage. I was at a point in my career where I felt I definitely wanted to further my education firstly. So it was a choice between something like an MBA, which is much broader in its remit, or a more focused– perhaps a science-focus– advanced degree. And after much deliberation, I settled on an MBA. And that was because I felt like, at that point in my career, I wanted a broader understanding of the organisation.
And I wanted to prepare myself for executive leadership positions. The Cambridge Executive MBA programme has definitely equipped me with a number of skills. It’s given me a tool box, so to speak, to approach leadership in a more holistic manner. Those new tools obviously, and those new skill sets, helped enhance the skills I came onto the course with and have really put me in a strong position in terms of understanding what the organisation requires of me in providing leadership and direction to the people that I am expected to lead.
And it does that, because in addition to the soft subjects like organisational behaviour, for instance, or leadership skills, it’s given me a greater amount of exposure and knowledge of the harder subjects like the finance and the accounting. So it enables me to connect the dots and have a more holistic approach to leadership. In terms of balancing life outside of the MBA with the demands and expectations of the course, I can understand how that can be a challenge. It’s 20 months off of hard work, and a lot of input is required from an academic mental perspective.
I do think the structure of the course helps to provide some balance. I found when I was applying for MBA programmes that the structure of the course, which allows us to be here at the Judge Business one week every month, helped me greatly in terms of maintaining balance between my work life and personal life and the actual studies. What’s important is to have structure and to ensure you ringfence some time to focus on the study. That will help strike balance, because the expectations in terms of that time are known to the people you need to spend time with. And it just enables you to make sure you set aside time for your life and your work as well.
What I found very useful about the way we were grouped on the programme was that firstly we where working as part of different groups throughout the programme. And secondly, within the groups, there was diversity in terms of the industries my fellow peers worked in. So that enabled us to learn from our peers, who had different perspectives on the same subject, and gain a broader perspective in so doing of that subject or topic. The lectures really prompted discussions with the different groups and the different kind of industry sectors on the same subject. So the dynamics of working in a group were that that, as part of a large cohort, was part of individual groups was quite unique, and actually facilitated the learning outcomes.
As a woman who has recently completed the MBA programme, I will advise any women considering taking the programme– it will help kind of confirm your existing abilities. It would also give you a broader perspective, which can be useful, especially considering a disparity in the corporate world as far as gender diversity goes. And it also just gives that added confidence for women in an environment, which perhaps might be male dominated, to progress, to apply for roles, and to have the confidence execute the current roles there in. So as a woman said to me and as one who has been through the course, my advice would be for any woman out there considering it to go for it.
My name is Cristina Savian, and I’m the founder and managing director of BE-WISE. BE-WISE is London-based consultancy firms who specialise in bringing new innovation into the construction market. The construction industry is now facing huge challenges. We have a growing population. We need more housing. We need more infrastructure, and what we have needs to be refurbished and renovated. So with the also profit margin declining year over year, there is the only way to meet the demand is bring innovation into the construction market.
Well, I’ve been in the construction industry for now over 20 years. I started out when I qualified as a land surveyor that year back in 1998, and I actually did all my economics degrees while working full-time, mostly in the evening. I have a very technical background, and I’ve always been a techie. But also on the engineering side, there’s traffic engineers and driving digital innovation in the engineering field.
But when you accumulate so much knowledge and experience in a field, what tends to be missing is the soft skills in the management side. The more you move up into a career, the more you realise that, yes, it’s good to be very good at what you do, but you also need to learn more management skills, how you manage other people, how you motivate other people, how to lead teams.
I wanted to equip myself with the right tools to be one of the leaders in the construction industry. You certainly feel the weight on you when you study here. The day you graduate, in the same spot, has people like Charles Darwin and Newton. It’s empowering, but at the same time, it gives you a purpose. It gives a purpose that you are chosen to just do more with your life. You have the opportunity to change people’s lives with wider impact, and you can’t miss that opportunity.
I think what was fascinating is how quickly you can actually put into practise what you just learned in class. I think as a model, the fact that you’re working at the same time studying this part it’s extremely challenging, especially the massive time demand, is the fact that actually you can immediately test and learn.
And I think what is fascinating is most of the time, you actually don’t realise you’re putting it into practise. But then when you look back and a month later you meet with the rest of the class, you start discussing as you always do about what happened in the previous month. It’s fascinating how you actually realise a month before you would never have acted in that way. You never necessarily would have made a decision.
The most surprising benefits was definitely the friends that I made along the way. Those relationships I built in the last three years now are going to be relationships for the rest of my life. They are going to be people that are going to be part of my life, not just on the work site, working with me, advising me on a day-to-day basis, but they are people that are going to be around for a long time. You certainly build very, very, very strong relationships with most of the people in the class.
We can’t talk openly at work because we’re all competing with each other. But in this type of environment, you’re not competing. You are supporting each other in discovering the best version of yourself. Well, the Executive MBA was actually my third degree, academic degree, while working full time. So it was for most of it on the logistics side, I actually already knew how to organise myself.
Probably the challenging part is that I’m not 20 anymore. And you do need a lot more sleep than perhaps you needed when you were much younger. And also your reaction time and the amount of new learning that you can actually take, certainly it was a bit harder. So yeah, I could definitely feel a bit of the difference.
The course is manageable because otherwise, you wouldn’t have so many people going through. You just need to decide and certainly prioritise. So it is one of the other skills you learn when you have something so important to do during the course and so many tight deadlines to meet, something has to give. In fact, during the course, I decide to actually quit my corporate life working for a very large multinational company. And I actually decided to start my own company.
All my learning, not only from the MBA side, but, you know, my 20 year’s experience and shape my own future. And I really have to say thanks to all the rest of the class because without their support, without them telling me constantly what I was really good at, and what I was not very good at, I don’t think I would be where I am. They are the ones who really shaped my future and then probably they will keep doing for a long time.
Don’t be afraid of that taking that challenge. Don’t be afraid of learning more about yourself, learning how to be a more impactful leader, which will certainly help you in your personal life in being a mum. Don’t be afraid of taking this journey while you have young kids. I saw many of my classmates with very young kids too perfectly go through the programme. Yes, always comes with challenges. But we’re women. We’re bright.