Globally, there is a drought of women in executive leadership and management positions. Although specks of optimism have started to creep into the executive space, there is still a long way to go until we can whip out the bottles of brouhaha.
The Pew Research Center last year released data tracking the percentage change in the number of women represented across an array of sectors. Women occupy 5.4% of CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies, up from zero in 1995. They also hold 20.2% of board positions at the same companies.
In the UK, the 30% Club, a campaign launched in 2010 with a goal of achieving a minimum of 30% women on FTSE 100 boards, has showed positive progress—the figure currently sits at 28.9%.
The TRIUM Global Executive MBA program—ranked among the top five EMBA programs in the world by the Financial Times in 2017—is also leading the charge, developing the next generation of female business leaders. The joint program between London School Economics (LSE), NYU Stern, and HEC Paris takes students to London, California, Paris, New York, and Shanghai.
BusinessBecause caught up with three graduates from the elite EMBA program to find out more.
Olatowun Candide-Johnson, TRIUM EMBA ’16
After more than 18 years in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, Ola wanted a change. “It was bizarre the way it happened,” she says. Sitting in her office, up popped an article, ingrained within was an advert for the TRIUM EMBA program.
“The global nature of the program was very appealing,” she explains. “Living and working in different spaces [around the world], with students from over 40 nationalities.”
By the end of the second module, she says, her life had changed. Ola had always wanted to set up her own business, and now she could—an amalgam of geopolitics, statistics, finance, strategy, negotiation, and the digital economy gave her the confidence to enter the world of entrepreneurship.
She is now planning on opening a private club to encourage women to do business together in Nigeria through workshops, seminars, and networking events including monthly dinners. “Women connect emotionally, but they tend not to do business together,” Ola explains.
She will build into this a previous venture—Voltaire Arts Club—which focused on building a private members club for the arts and emerging artistes. Her network of artistes will perform at some of her events.
“I’m using the TRIUM EMBA program in everything I do,” Ola says. “Even if I worked in a company, I’d be using the program. I’m always looking to use the skills that I learned.”
Leesa Soulodre, TRIUM EMBA ’14
For Leesa Soulodre, the TRIUM Global EMBA program was a perfect fit. Over the course of her career, Leesa has worked at the cutting edge of innovation, technology, and strategic consulting, advising over 400 multinationals and their startups in more than 19 sectors across Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Americas.
Leesa says business schools are in a unique position to tackle the lack of women in executive leadership roles.
Networking is a fundamental cog in the achievement of that goal. For Leesa a board role for the Hinounou Intelligent Robot company is a direct result from her time networking on the TRIUM Shanghai module, she says. Now, through the delivery of a predictive heart failure algorithm Robot as a Service with AXA, Ping An, and ZTE Angelcare, they are helping the world's elderly to live longer, healthier and happier at home.
On her flight to the London TRIUM EMBA module, Leesa also recalls sitting next to Marianne Winslett, professor emerita of computer science of the University of Illinois, and former director of the Advanced Digital Sciences Center of Singapore.
“We hashed out cases for their inventions over the hours on the flight,” she says. “On my return to Singapore, I later joined their team as a pro bono innovation mentor—we have since commercialized several inventions.”
Leesa is now the global innovation director for Inspirit IoT. In less than 12 months, the company boasts a compelling IP portfolio—it’s now a technology partner of Intel, IBM, and Amazon Web Services, and was recently accepted into the Siemens Frontier Program for robotics.
All of this was made possible through the education Leesa received on the TRIUM EMBA. “My skills strengthened as an expert critical thinker,” she asserts. “It reinforced my ability to analyze a topic at lightning speed, distil it into its core parts, apply the relevant models, and emerge with critical insights.”
Elisha London, TRIUM EMBA ’17
Elisha London encapsulates both the power of the TRIUM EMBA to tackle the imbalance of female leaders in the executive space, and the notion of business as a force for good.
She is the former campaign director for the Heads Together mental health campaign, spearheaded by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
The global impact Heads Together had, she says, led to her exploring the global state of mental health. “I was shocked to discover the scale of the issue globally,” she explains, “and the limited efforts going into addressing this.”
Upon finishing the TRIUM EMBA, Elisha launched, and is the current CEO, of the new Global Campaign for Mental Health. “The Global Campaign for mental health is a new global effort to catalyze greater action on global mental health; strong demand for it, more financing for it, and better frameworks to deliver it,” she explains. By 2030, Elisha wants to see a world where the mental health conversation has universal accessibility for anyone who needs it.
The TRIUM Global EMBA ignited this drive. “I was quite unusual in my class; being female, young, and having predominantly worked within non-profit organizations to address global injustice,” Elisha says.
“For someone like me, the TRIUM EMBA was extremely helpful. I believe business has a crucial role to play in addressing some of the most pressing global issues of our time, and the TRIUM EMBA has helped me to understand how to leverage its power [when] addressing these.”