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Female executives and the right MBA

November 05, 2015

What the right MBA can do for female executives

According to the latest statistics, the companies that perform best financially have the greatest number of women in leadership roles. However, women are still behind their male counterparts both in position and pay. The good news is that executive education is one of the best ways to overcome this dilemma. Although an MBA cannot guarantee an open door to the C-suite, it is still a powerful way for a woman to invest in herself, her career and her future in order to surpass barriers to success.  

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Prof. Barbara Stöttinger, Dean of the WU Executive Academy, has identified eight key benefits which an MBA holds for women in particular:

  • Globe-spanning professional network

Building up meaningful connections and creating strong international ties with fellow business leaders are often regarded as one of the most valuable elements of an MBA among female students. Many women particularly appreciate the level of professional friendship and network and value the support that the group is able to offer to each other, even long after graduation. Very often, MBA colleagues decide to set up businesses together, hire each other or recommend one of their classmates to business partners, because they exactly know about their strengths and weaknesses. A valuable professional network is not a guarantee for career success, but it definitely creates the opportunities to start looking at what is possible.

  • Business expertise 

The right MBA not only offers profound analytical, decision-making and leadership knowledge but also a comprehensive set of soft skills. Here, women can bring in their often ascribed abilities which not only fosters diversity in the classroom, but also sharpens one’s sensitivity for diversity in management practice. Also, the classroom serves as a perfect environment in which students learn how to work in heterogeneous teams, deal with time constraints and assess risks strategically, instead of only trying to mitigate them. Thanks to this challenging but fruitful setting, women may further refine their business acumen and their sense for business opportunities.

  • Confidence to succeed

A healthy amount of confidence is instrumental for executives. Among other things, an MBA teaches you how to convince others, defend your position and not to give in when you are challenged. It is exactly this kind of experience that can be incredibly confidence boosting. In the end, debating and learning with one’s peers is not only about acquiring know-how, but also about defining your role as a leader and being ready for the next challenge.

  • Exchanging best practices with likeminded peers

In recent years, the number of women enrolling in MBA programs has increased steadily. The good news about it is that women now make up a substantial percentage of participants, with some MBA classes having more than 50% female students. This is an ideal setting for women to engage with peers who deal with exactly the same challenges, providing the opportunity to exchange best practices and learn how to assert themselves successfully in difficult business environments.

  • Change of perspective

Sometimes it only takes a change in perspective to be ready for the big changes in your career, and this is exactly what women often appreciate with an MBA: It sharpens the sense of opportunity, radically opens up one’s professional horizons and provides the skills and confidence to embrace those opportunities. It is about a new way of thinking which often ends up affecting every facet of life. However, the MBA also forces managers to think big. Thanks to the fact that students are constantly in contact with other people who think big, dream big and aim big, this can be a mind-blowing experience. Very often, this change in perspective is quite small in the first place, but after some time, people end up with a completely new point of view.

  • Extra dose of credibility  

Holding an MBA from a reputable international provider is a testament to a manager’s dedication towards a successful pursuit of business know-how, practice and excellence and – from a recruiter’s perspective - reflects a candidate’s desire to explore, learn and grow. When applying for higher management positions, many women executives consider this “extra dose of credibility” a considerable advantage over their competitors, serving as an important indicator of what an individual may be capable of achieving.

  • Strategic career development 

Apart from providing state-of-the-art management know-how and innovative business practices, good business schools also offer a comprehensive portfolio of career services. Students and alumni appreciate the career support given through the program, as many use this period to address their career development strategically. Women especially appreciate the personal coaching with career experts because it allows them to dig a little bit deeper into what they have learned throughout the program on an individual level. Career workshops, CV checks and counselling sessions further support them in reflecting on their career opportunities and challenges and help them develop their leadership skills in the context of their current work situation.

  • Flexibility  

Most MBA programs are built around the lifestyle of a hard-working manager. Especially women consider the flexibility resulting from the part-time structure and innovative e-learning technologies invaluable as it allows them to better reconcile work, family, and a demanding MBA program. 

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