As I celebrate another International Women’s Day, I cannot help but reflect on what an incredible experience other women and I have shared in the Weekend Executive MBA program. I remember a few years ago when I began considering this process, I had no women colleagues who had even considered pursuing an MBA. I sought advice wherever I could, but nothing could prepare me for the actual experience.
I was lucky enough to have other women in all my groups. During the first residency, our cohort formed an incredible bond. We coordinated happy hours, raised money for fellow students, and constantly cheered each other on as we quit our jobs, got new opportunities, got married, had kids, and everything in between.
The bond between these women, some of whom I can now say are great friends, cannot be explained. When you walk into a group of a hundred-plus students, many of whom are men, it is so refreshing to have the other women experiencing the same situations who are in your corner. It has been proven time and time again that additional perspectives, including the perspectives of women, lead to improved outcomes for business, and I would argue also improved outcomes in the classroom as well. In some of our classes, our women cohorts formed a tight group to help with studying, understanding a professor’s notes and speaking up for clarification in class. We really enjoyed the struggle together.
Now more than ever, an MBA can set women apart in the workforce. Unfortunately, there have been opportunities in my past that I have been passed up for because my background is “too specialized.” It is so easy for women to take this feedback and not pursue different opportunities outside of the traditional career path laid out for them. When my boss asked me why I found value in this program, I told him point blank, “I plan to be your boss one day.”
We need more women in leadership positions—we need different opinions in the room to help make the best, most informed decisions. I have seen in this program women with families and demanding jobs make incredible career changes and balance it all. Too often at the beginning of my career, it was hard to see a path forward in leadership because I didn’t see many women like me.
As women leaders, let’s show the world we will not let family commitments, stereotypes or gender roles hold us back from impactful roles in many organizations. I believe by taking this step of earning an MBA and being a part of an elite group of women, we can be examples for other young women who hope to pursue an even more impactful path.
Women are a powerful force in whatever number, and I can truthfully say all my fears were unfounded in being underrepresented. The women in this program, and at Fuqua in general, are wonderful and supportive in whatever stage of life before, during and after the program.