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Women of the Cambridge MBA

The Cambridge MBA

I was kind of thinking like, “Okay, where do I want to take my career?”

I was starting to hit that ceiling and ability to keep growing.

I needed to move on and do something a little bit different.

I decided to pursue an MBA now because I am going through a transition to switch industries.

I thought it was a really good environment to kind of thrive and think of ideas for the future as well.

Through exposure to people from diverse backgrounds, I’m looking forward to expanding my world view and challenging my previously held beliefs and opinions.

I want to have a chance to be challenged and also be inspired by people around the world.

The career barriers for women

I think as a woman, it’s really important to consider what stopping your career part way through and going back to school might mean for the rest of your career and your education.

I think one of the barriers which holds women back from potentially applying is obviously family. But if you can almost put that at the back of your mind and realise how worthy you are of this education and how valuable you could be to helping others.

A community of female leaders

I’m one of the leads for the Women’s Leadership SIG, which has been a really great experience. With my colleagues we’ve been able to organise some really great events and create a support network.

Coming here I expected a diverse cohort and that’s exactly what I’ve met here.

I think it’s a city where people trade knowledge. People are not afraid to what they really truly feel and people are very inclusive.

And I really love that about the programme. All the women here I’ve met are willing to take on leadership roles and jumping onto opportunities to do something.

Choose your career path

For me the Cambridge MBA is a year of reflection to think through what I have already achieved and what’s still ahead of me.

There are definitely still barriers and I can see that. And I think that there’s still a lot more work that needs to be done there.

Now is the time to actually choose your career and create your own path.

The friendship that we built here I’m sure that we’ll all support each other along the way. The ladies I’ve met here are just the best cheerleaders.

Cambridge Judge Business School is developing the next generation of women leaders

We do this by attracting a diverse community through our educational programmes. We research the cultures, institutions and organisations that enable more women to become successful leaders. We believe in encouraging and supporting business women to achieve their best potential.

Each MBA class comprises around 200 experienced professionals from a broad range of cultural and professional backgrounds.

With a Cambridge MBA, you will:

  • gain the business education required to excel in a wide range of careers
  • join a thriving and ambitious network of students and alumni
  • be part of the women in business student group – work with peers to drive the gender balance agenda in business
  • become involved in the Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre, supporting their research, conferences and outreach activities
  • develop personally in an educational setting which supports diversity, equality and inclusivity.


Meet us and join our regular virtual open days or Careers webinars. Meet MBA Admissions teams, hear a taster lecture from faculty or meet MBA students and alumni and hear about their Cambridge experience and career outcomes.

Sign up to meet us

Part of the Business School, the Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre mission is to be a hub for global thought leadership, making the necessary changes to foster a gender balanced workforce.

Join us at the annual conference to meet and network with the Cambridge community.

Find out more

£30,000 is awarded to five outstanding female students per year, in partnership with the Forté Foundation.

Learn more about scholarships

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Meet our women

So before the MBA, I spent five years working for FinTech startups in the US. It was a very exciting space but I needed to move on and do something a little bit different. So I always found myself kind of in the background, supporting the company and the operations and I wanted to be more customer focused and the MBA was a way to pivot from a supporting role to a more customer-facing role and at the same time, I was making a geographical move as well from the US back to Europe. I’ve wanted to do a one-year MBA because I didn’t want to be out of the workforce for too long and the fact that it’s like embedded in a great university so you have like the rich history of Cambridge as well, I thought that would be a really good fit. For me, it was actually the focus on technology and entrepreneurship because down the road, maybe in five years, I do want to start my own company and I felt having that setting, that environment where entrepreneurship is encouraged and I thought it was a really good environment to thrive and think of ideas for the future as well. I also really liked the practical aspect of the Cambridge MBA, so doing the CVP and the GCP, I thought it was a really good way to figure out whether consulting is for you and also just learn by doing. For my GCP, I worked with Airbnb and we’re kind of figuring out what the future of customer service could be and there’s something about learning something in the classroom and especially all the frameworks we’ve learned and being able to apply it in real life and see how that works, it’s just kind of nice to connect theory with practise and see it play out in real life. Having had experience at small startups, I really wanted to get the experience at a big tech company as well, see what it’s like to have like a five-year, ten-year strategy. I was lucky enough to secure a product-related role and then I’m wanting to take that experience maybe in like five years and start my own company. I think when you’re in that environment where everyone is entrepreneurial and thinking about what the next thing could be, it helps you also get better at it and also just having someone to bounce ideas off of, I think that community aspect is really important. So the entrepreneurship SIG, for example, had lots of great events where entrepreneurs would come and speak to us and you can connect with them, bounce ideas off of them and learn about their path and so I want to take what I’ve learned and the network that I have now of people that I can always ask questions to or reach out to for advice and kind of take that going forward and just knowing that you have like people to fall back on when things don’t work out. Having so many people from such different backgrounds together and talking about these issues really forces you to think better and think more deeper, because I think that’s what I will take away from the MBA the most.

My background is in Global Health and Development. So I was working at a nonprofit organisation, mostly managing health technologies. I thoroughly loved my job and was realising quickly that I was starting to hit that ceiling and ability to keep growing. But the MBA I knew was going to equip me with the right leadership and management skills to help me progress into more of the strategic planning type of roles that I was hoping to be in, still within the impact sector. I knew my priorities were to find a tight knit, collaborative community that allowed me to get a very diverse and international perspective. Coming from a Global Health background, I know how invaluable that was, both from my previous education, as well as from my work experience. So after being introduced to the MBA programme, having some conversations with the faculty staff and current students, it was an instant fit and click for me and I’m really grateful to be here. Part of the motivation for the Cambridge MBA was the Healthcare Strategies concentration. I also wanted to pick up some of the more technical skills that come with a business degree, like corporate finance and macro econ, to know I was developing the skills I needed to continue to move forward in my career the way I wanted to. The cohort that we’re a part of, although people might not be specifically within the impact space, everyone here wants to do good in their own sectors. So to be able to keep that mindset of let’s think creatively how we can drive positive change, but maybe we should think about how we can engage with different sectors in different industries to really drive that lasting change. I’ve found that actually in some of the non-social impact or health-related courses is where I’ve done the most thinking and learning and applying in this context, which has been really invaluable and something I wasn’t expecting in advance. I’m hoping to continue to apply some of these skills and really drive a little bit deeper into the strategy aspect of health care and development. And I want to try and use best practices from some other industries and apply them into the impact space to drive the most lasting and sustainable impact. So I’m looking at a couple of different options, but I’ve been taking this time to really evaluate those opportunities, talk to people that are in the field and the different sectors and see what the right fit is for me. In five years time, I hope to be in more of a strategy position within the impact space. I want to stay in the healthcare industry as much as I can, but I know in order to do that more effectively and be a really strong leader in the space, it’s important to get that diverse experience. And I think this year, this past year has been a really good starting point for that. So I’m hoping to use the next few years to continue to explore and build that skillset, so that in five years, 10 years time, I can come back to the healthcare space more intentionally and really apply those learnings in an effective way. I’m at Christ College, which has been a really great opportunity to balance what I see as Judge being very innovative and progressive and you know, building and learning on new ideas and methodologies, with a very much traditional college experience. I think what’s been interesting and surprising and something that I wasn’t really expecting, was how progressive my college is as well. So they very much hold on to tradition and the roots that make the college what it is today, but they do it in a way that’s encouraging innovation, encouraging people to think outside the box, is very inclusive in a lot of ways. So it’s been a really nice complement to my experience at Judge. I intentionally picked a college that didn’t have a lot of MBAs in it, because I wanted again to balance that experience and it’s proven to be true. So my background is in Global Health and Development, and I focused a lot on women’s health and women’s reproductive rights. And so when I saw the role of Women’s Officer come available in my MCR through Christ College, it was something that really interested me. The Women’s Officer at Christ College has allowed me to meet several people in the college and in our MCR, but also you know, the very stereotypical formal hall, graduate hall experiences have been exactly what I was hoping for and expecting. It’s really made me and helped me to embody the Cambridge collegiate experience in a way that I don’t think you’d get in any other university.

I started off in the public sector, so had a career there in finance for about five to six years. With a background in finance, across public sector and private sector, I knew that I needed sort of a toolkit to be able to make the jump into consulting, and long-term, into helping other people as well, and the MBA just seemed like a perfect blend of being able to understand business situations, being able to apply those to my long-term career, and at this point in my career, I was at a crossroads where I wanted to pivot, and so I thought it was the perfect time to do the one year programme. I started exploring one year programmes and the possibility of staying in the UK. And actually the linchpin, I think, for me about Cambridge was the diversity it offered. So I was essentially looking to get out of my comfort zone and go to another country, and I thought to myself, why would I go abroad to look for these experiences when they’re actually just right in front of my nose? And that’s one of the things that really struck me about Cambridge. The diversity of the cohort is honestly incredible. Diversity at Cambridge has been a wonderful experience for me. The number of nationalities that I see in the class, the backgrounds in terms of exposure, experience, industry, and careers has been amazing to be able to learn from and interact with people from different parts of the world, so the diversity in terms of personality has been great to understand how different people think. So to be able to work with, on projects, someone who is thinking very, very differently to yourself and bringing a different perspective to you, it really sets the scene for you to be able to go out into the real world and work in teams, which are this diverse. As a British woman, I feel the diversity of the cohort really speaks to me. The size of the cohort here has made me create connections and bonds, which are probably closer in my life and will extend forever. My aims are twofold, I obviously have an interest in consulting and I’ve got an interest in international development and social impact. And then onwards, I’m really thinking about potentially moving to an emerging economy and using some of the learnings I gained from courses, such as Marketing and Innovation in Emerging Economies, International Business for example, that’s something which has always been my dream. Helping others from a young age has always spoken to me and given me purpose, but I feel that my MBA is a stepping stone with knowledge and experience and a clear toolkit to be able to use that in 5 or 10 years when I can actually step into those countries, understand what needs to be changed, and make the change that I’ve been seeking to do for a long time. You definitely get knowledge elevation from the MBA, but more than that, it’s about the network, it’s about the network, not just of your peers that you meet here, but you meet 200 people for example, and actually, your network has now become thousands of people instantly. Whenever you need to reach out for help or you need to help somebody else, that network will be there to support you. That’s why we’re here, we’re here to learn from each other, we’re here to learn from people who are better than us, and we’re here to bring up people who might need the skills that you possess.

My name is Cynthia Zheng and I’m from Toronto, Canada. and I actually am born in Shanghai, China. What I was doing before was I was doing a lot of digital transformation inside of financial services. And then around the time I got, I guess my CPA, I was kinda thinking like, “Okay, where do I want to take my career?” and I’m realising that I was still most intrigued by innovation and digital transformation. So I really wanted to come do my MBA and really get to kind of talk with the other business leaders around the world and I specifically chose Cambridge because I knew that there was a lot of focus here on tech and on innovation and on how that integrates. I wanted a place where it was really, really collaborative because that was my main goal, is to meet and talk with as many people as possible and kind of really broaden my horizon. So I looked at, you know, the numbers of course, and it was very diverse. In the interview process, everybody was really diverse as well, but I think what really drew me in was, again, that aspect of collaboration. I think a lot of the electives, like the ones that I took, were like managing innovation strategically. So a lot of innovation type of courses. So I really enjoyed the M&A class that I took and also the management praxis, like the negotiation course, I thought that was so interesting. So building like both the technical side and then also diving into that innovation, but then also re-honing those business leader skills too. But also because we did like a lot of case studies and we had a lot of collaborative group projects, again, I definitely learned from how the rest of the cohort, how they work as well and I feel like that made me a lot stronger as kind of a leader going forward. I specifically chose to apply originally to schools that had like a university behind it, rather than just a standalone business school because I wanted to participate in that community. So I think the college experience was really cool, doing the formals and talking to people from different, like non-business related, walks of life. And so that was eye-opening and I felt like that made my whole experience more well-rounded. I think the CVP allowed me to work with a tech company and then with the GCP, I chose a smaller company and they were working a lot with sustainability ideas, which I think is so important now and I think a lot of people are realising that sustainability is a huge part of everything that we do. Let me try to use all the skills that I’ve learned this year in terms of marketing and strategy and try to release that out into the market and see if I can build a business with it. So I felt like it all really connected itself and each project was different enough that I felt like I was learning each time. I really liked that we had, you know, business leaders or, you know, just people from different countries and like different regions. And so I’ve gotten so many new ideas and I’m just really inspired by how ambitious everybody is in their different fields, in their different aspects and I think that’s made me more ambitious as well. So I definitely think that that part of the diversity has been really great. It’s my first time being this far away from home for this long. So it feels like a home away from home where I felt like I learned so much and I met so many incredible people that it kind of accelerated my life or accelerated my personal growth to so many different levels.

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