“It isn’t easy being a woman in the oil and gas industry,” says Caterina Marmorato, an Italian businesswoman on MIP Politecnico di Milano’s International Flex EMBA.
As a woman working in oil and gas for 12 years, Caterina has always been in a minority. At times, it’s difficult to get her voice heard.
Caterina’s career has taken her across continents—Europe, Africa, Asia, South and North America. She wanted an MBA to boost her credentials and break into the c-suite, but her jet-setter lifestyle was something she wasn’t prepared to give up.
With the I-Flex EMBA from MIP, she doesn’t have to. The program is delivered through a distance-learning platform designed by Microsoft, meaning international business professionals like Caterina can undertake the course from just about anywhere in the world.
That’s why Caterina was thrilled to secure the MIP 30% Club Women in Leadership competition, gifting her a scholarship to the value of €9,600 ($11,000) to study at MIP.
Currently, she’s studying while working all the way over in Houston, Texas. The super-flexible program, she says, fits perfectly around her hectic schedule.
BusinessBecause caught up with Caterina to find out more.
Why did you decide to pursue MIP’s International Flex EMBA?
I started a new role within my company in investor relations and realized I needed to boost my financial skillset. I was keen to disrupt my routine, try something new, and get up to date with the world around me—a lot has changed since my undergraduate degree in economics back in 2005!
I was also really eager to improve my ‘soft skills’. I think you can have all the financial and economic knowledge in the world, but if you can’t lead a team or make your voice heard, then what’s the point?
MIP was the only business school I applied to, largely due to the unrivalled benefits of the International Flex EMBA program.
I travel all over the world with my job, and so I needed a course which didn’t require in-person attendance. The knowledge gained is just the same as an in-person program, but I can learn from the comfort of my own home.
How do you juggle your career and MBA studies?
It’s not too bad! Essentially, it all boils down to time management. When I was at university, I was a bit of a nerd, and so I’m not afraid of a bit of hard work!
With my job, I can sometimes be travelling for 15-to-16 hours, and so I fit my MBA studies in then. It rains an awful lot in Houston; there’s no temptation to head outside, so I’m happy to stay in and hit the books!
What challenges do you face as a woman in business?
Currently, in Italy, there is a real push on quotas, bringing more women into leading roles, but it still isn’t a natural process. And, to be honest, it’s annoying to not be recognised for exactly the same role as a man.
When I first started out, I would be dismissed in meetings as people thought I was just an assistant, all because I was a young woman. It was mind-blowing to me.
Essentially, being a woman in a high-powered business role means sometimes people put you on trial just because of your gender, and we do face a lot of obstacles and challenges along the way. Whilst some of these challenges are external, we also suffer from internal doubts and worries - you end up thinking 'am I good enough?'
I’m not suggesting that you need more qualifications as a woman in order to be heard, but I do believe that having the MBA will boost my credentials and my confidence. I’ve worked hard and now I want to invest in myself.
That’s easy. For me, there are essentially no negatives of having the MBA. It massively boosts your skillset and CV, helping you to flourish as an individual as well as a businessperson.
I want to move higher and higher up the ranks within my company and, in five years’ time, I see myself working with the management team in our headquarters.
But, it’s true what they say; you never know what the future holds! I could be anywhere in five years, but I’ll always have the MBA under my belt to support me in whatever career path I choose to take.