Female MBA alumni found "WU EA Female Leaders Network"

September 26, 2018

"Because together we are stronger"

By women for women: Five former Global Executive MBA participants have launched a new network with a view to proactively supporting female students and alumnae of the WU Executive Academy. The “WU EA Female Leaders Network” aims to provide female leaders with a powerful forum for networking, making it possible for them to compare notes on career questions and help one another. At the kick-off event in early September, the network's initiators were energetically assisted by two professors who are very passionate about this topic: Barbara Stöttinger, Dean of the WU Executive Academy, and Carmen Abril, marketing expert at IE Business School in Madrid.

Group picture with founders and professors
Barbara Stöttinger and Carmen Abril with 3 of the 5 founders of the network. Left to right: Barbara Stöttinger, Anita Kirilova, Carmen Abril, Özlem Sensin, Christa Gschwertl

The number of female leaders enrolled in one of the WU Executive Academy's programs is constantly increasing. More than 250 women are currently studying at the WU Executive Academy and over 1000 have already earned an MBA or a Master of Laws degree.

Together we are stronger

Professionally speaking, women in executive positions still face particular challenges. This is precisely why five alumni of the Global Executive MBA class 2018 wanted to contribute. Their initiative, the “WU EA Female Leaders Network”, helps remedy the situation by organizing three events per year for female students and alumnae of the WU Executive Academy. This provides a forum for sharing career-related knowledge and experience.

“The experience that my MBA peers brought to the program has been a great asset to me—both privately and professionally. Our new network can make a huge difference when it comes to learning and benefiting from one another,” says one of the network's initiators, Christa Gschweitl. Co-founder Özlem Sensin, Product Leader at Sberbank Europe, adds: “When women join forces in a network, they find mentors, role models and friends. Our platform aims not only to provide women with opportunities for sharing ideas and experience but also to actively support them in their personal and professional development.” The other founders of the network are Priyanka Dutta-Passecker, Director of Sales and Business Development at Bioseutica BV, Anita Kirilova, Agency Director at MetLife, and Olena Khlon, a member of the WU Executive Academy's International Advisory Board and Chief Revenue Officer at iCare Benefits.

Kick-off event with renowned expert

On September 8, 2018, some 40 female students and alumnae attended the kick-off event and listened with great interest to the keynote speech given by the branding and innovation expert Carmen Abril, who teaches International Marketing to Global Executive MBA participants. Carmen Abril is a professor at the Instituto de Empresa Business School in Madrid and an MBA graduate. From 1995 to 2005, she was Marketing Vice President for Spain and Greece at PepsiCo Beverages, making her one of only a few women to hold a top management position at the time. During her keynote, she told the audience: “Women should be more results-oriented and more demanding on the job, and they should make the most of networking opportunities - at all times, not just when they are looking for a new job. But as one advances one's career, it is becoming increasingly important to also network with men.”

Picture of Carmen Abril and Barbara Stöttinger in the lecture hall
The female leaders listen to the keynote from Carmen Abril.

Barbara Stöttinger, Dean of the WU Executive Academy, supports both the self-starting attitude of the five alumnae and the new “WU EA Female Leaders Network”: "Our WU EA Connect social network offers our students and graduates regional hubs and informal networks in the fields of starting a business, marketing and sales. What is really crucial in my opinion is that we also create a networking forum for like-minded females, who share not only the experience of being a woman but, even more importantly, also the experience resulting from an MBA.” The network's founding body, the Sub Board, comes directly under the WU Executive Club's International Advisory Board.

Pictures of the event:

Picture of the networking guests
The opportunity for networking was also seized at the kick-off event.

The audience liked the new network very much. Ada Fast-Iloduba, a Professional MBA Marketing & Sales student, praised the initiative: “We need more initiatives like this one. I worked myself for a male-dominated group for a long time, and I know many women who face considerable challenges in this environment.”

Three times a year, the WU EA Female Leaders Network will organize events featuring distinguished speakers for its members. Female students and alumnae of the WU Executive Academy will be invited to them by e-mail and on WU EA Connect.

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