Posts Tagged ‘MBA; career’

Duncan Chapple, LBS alumni and owner of extraordinary analyst relation agency Lighthouse, forwarded this week an article stating that at least at the University of Nairobi, women crowd men out of classrooms when it comes to doing an MBA. Admittedly, the article wasn’t featured in the NYT, but it’s amusing that Africa seems to be ahead of Europe and the United States for once: http://bit.ly/iSdV3Z

While the credibility of this article is somewhat shaky, I would like to throw the question out there if we do need more women in MBA classes. Or, on the other hand, what is keeping us women from doing an MBA? It’s especially strange given that year after year more women than men complete successfully their undergraduate degrees. So what’s happening in-between? Are we just falling off the bandwaggon? Are we not able to embrace power as we are so in touch with our feminine side (I am not, it seems)? I believe that the major reason for only 27% of women in the average MBA class at LBS are due to:

Women are afraid of the financial investment. It’s hard to carry this kind of debt around, especially if you are not already a high-flying executive, but somewhere in the middle of the ladder.

Women also have to have children at some point around their 40ieth birthday – exactly the time when you would be doing an MBA. People like my classmate Elizabeth Boudreau who does the MBA while raising two little girls have my admiration. My plants didn’t survive the fact that I was doing an Exec MBA and worked full-time.

I wonder if there is still a social stigma around a highly educated woman. I can’t count the times anymore I heard especially in Germany: But you will be overqualified then. Seriously, „overqualified“ is the worst word I ever heard. Quite a row of my female friends also feel that at some point they are better off supporting their husbands’ careers than pursuing their own careers.

Last, but not least, could it be that companies simply don’t want to deal with women in executive positions? Germany is actually a pretty good example, it’s hard for a woman to get onto a executive board. German companies shy away from outlandish things such as providing childcare. Much better to have a sound state system that pays mothers to stay at home and lament that we have a dearth of professionals.

All considered, I am inclined to think that we don’t need „just“ more women in MBA classes, I think we need more women who are as fed up as I am with clichés and go for what they want to do with their lives. I am convinced that attending LBS has been the single best idea in my life, as this experience has opened so many new venues for me. Two years ago, I would have never quit my job to start my own consultancy. This MBA has given me insight, know-how and self-confidence. But I admit that it’s not for the faint-hearted. So what is your opinion on this question? Are you ready to take on an MBA and go for what you want to do with your life?

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David Mitchell, a noted expert and speaker on brands, forwarded me yesterday his latest blog post entitled „MBA: Mediocre but Arrogant?“. This one was new to me, having heard before only „Married but Available“ (all MBA consorts, don’t listen – all MBAs: please forward me other interpretations). David picked up on his interpretation at a high-calibre dinner where a C-suite speaker was making fun of MBAs. In David’s kind view, though, MBAs are anything but mediocre (he remained impressed by the calibre of people he met when recently lecturing at LBS). He says, however, that MBAs might come across as arrogant, as they are for the most part people with a clear sense of the direction in which they are going. However, if you remove all empathy and understanding of other people, this might easily come across as arrogant. You can check his blog out here: http://www.dna-rb.com/blog/?p=39

I commented then that I would agree with the latter part – we might come across as arrogant – but that to some part the „mediocre“ is also true. No, don’t get all cross with me. I include myself in that category, too (although David kindly disagreed). What I want to say is that it’s not always the brightest kid in the room who gets the CEO position. What I see time and again is that being good at your job might get you stuck. Again, I am not proposing that we deliver sub-standard work. But I advocate that while spending 95% on your job (and doing it well!), that the remaining 5% should be spent networking. You might do the greatest job in the world, but if only your boss knows about it and has no interest in promoting you, you will get stuck. This means: Get out of your office and in front of people. Especially your bosses’ boss. I know that this is not always easy, given that these people only want to spend time with more important people. But think of ways, and if it’s only through finding out the guy’s or lady’s favourite coffee and chocolate through their secretary and showing up in their office one morning. Trust me, it works!

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