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CEO Chooses Copenhagen MBA For Job At Chr. Hansen

Khanya Vokwana juggles an MBA with looking after her baby daughter. She was handpicked for a job at Chr. Hansen by the company’s CEO

Mon Jun 19 2017

“I want to be a rock star at work and at home,” says Khanya Vokwana, who decided to juggle looking after her 9-month-old daughter with a full-time MBA at Copenhagen Business School.

Khanya was the first student of the current Copenhagen MBA cohort – made up of 39 students from 22 different countries – to land a post-MBA job.

In a few months’ time, she’ll start a new role at Chr. Hansen; a global bioscience company and one of Denmark’s biggest firms. She was handpicked by the company’s CEO, who sat in on an MBA class at the school.

Originally from South Africa, Khanya worked 16 hour days as a strategy consultant at Capgemini in the Netherlands prior to her MBA. She chose the Copenhagen MBA for its Leadership Discovery Process – a unique personal development course which runs throughout the MBA curriculum – and close links to corporate Denmark, where 80% of Copenhagen MBA students land jobs after graduation.

Whilst in her MBA, Khanya represented the school and came in second place at the European VCIC MBA competition, where MBA students play the role of Venture Capitalists and are given $100 million to invest in a new business.

Having seen the opportunities on offer, Khanya is determined now to fly the flag for women in business and be a rock star mum at home. Denmark, with its strong emphasis on work-life balance, is the perfect place to do both.

How did the job at Chr. Hansen come about?

The CEO attended an Organizational Leadership class as a participant. As it turns out, he was not just participating but was also scouting for talent. A month later, my lecturer called to tell me that I was one of three candidates selected to go through a formal interview process with the company!

Why did you decide to pursue the Copenhagen MBA?

From an academic perspective, I loved the school's focus on sustainability and their year-long leadership development program; this is what differentiated Copenhagen from other schools for me. The cherry on top was getting the opportunity to live in Copenhagen, which is one of my favorite European cities, with an exposure to post-MBA career opportunities that emphasize a work-life balance.

What stands out from your Copenhagen MBA experience?

The exposure to such diverse classmates was one of the year's highlights. It's incredible how we all read the same cases but have such different views on them; it has emphasized to me the value of diversity.

The opportunity to interact with top Danish and global business leaders, who joined our MBA lectures and other MBA events, was absolutely invaluable.

How have you found juggling a new baby and an MBA?

Undertaking an intense MBA program with a 9-month old and with zero support structures – friends and family – was much harder than I had anticipated. Luckily, I have an incredibly supportive husband; I could not have survived this year without him.

I also learned to be quite strict with my time and to say no to things that did not bring any value. I relied on my talented classmates, especially Utkarsh Dubey and Mike Downs, who were always available to help me revise when I was in a panic over a looming exam!

How far is the MBA an enabler for women in business?

I believe the MBA gives women a taste of what to expect when we are part of executive teams in the future. The constant pressure, confidently defending one's ideas and working collaboratively with peers are the soft skills that we strengthen during our MBA.

It also gives us the holistic view of how a business works and, as a result, it shows us the levers we can pull to improve organizational performance. I am grateful for having been given a platform to meet exceptionally talented women and to be inspired by the different ways in which they handle multiple challenges.