Dora Ke worked in consulting before becoming a project manager at a business school in China. Bogged down in roles that weren’t akin to her entrepreneurial desires, and passionate about women in business, she decided she needed a change.
Wanting out of her current role was only half of the battle though; without the relevant experience, she’d be stuck where she was.
That’s where IE Business School enters the frame. Ranked among the top 10 programs in the world by the Financial Times, and geared towards innovation, IE’s International MBA was just what Dora was looking for.
“Being an entrepreneur is part of the reason why I wanted to pursue an MBA,” says Dora. “I believed IE could be the catalyst, and help transform me into one.”
A cutting-edge specialization in entrepreneurship is an integral cog that keeps the wheel of innovation turning at IE. It helps move students along an entrepreneurial conveyor belt, adding nuts of knowledge and bolts of brilliance along the way.
Through the Developing an Entrepreneurial Mindset module, Dora says she was schooled in finding remedies to common business ailments. It was this skill that allowed her to use innovation to solve a personal problem she encountered after graduating.
“After MBA graduation, I came back to Shanghai,” she says. “I found that I was in urgent need of rebuilding my social network—my previous contacts could no longer aid me with personal or professional growth.”
So, Dora explored the alumni avenues and tried to organize gatherings to bring together like-minded MBAs. She enjoyed the vibes ignited through connectivity and, together with b-school alumna Wang Carmen, set up MBA League—a platform designed to connect and grow the MBA network, and enable alumni to share knowledge and opportunities globally.
As well as a strong showing in entrepreneurship, the dedication to women in business at IE Business School was a major appeal for Dora.
“I care a lot about female equality and development,” she says. “IE has the Women in Business Club that connects business women and facilitates female careers in business, and I felt that it was the right choice for me as a woman who aspires to thrive in a business environment.
Indeed, women make up 72% of the staff at IE, and 31% of the students on the International MBA program.
As a result of her exposure to female empowerment in business at IE, and a passion for using business as a platform for females worldwide, Dora recognized the need to fill a gap in the market when she returned to Shanghai.
“As a businesswoman in China, I am viewed as fairly unconventional,” she says. “Women are not usually encouraged to pursue higher education or professional success.
“I know how crucial it is for women to have mentors who can be supportive and help them get through the challenging times in their lives—but I didn’t have these kinds of mentors in my life.”
After searching high and low for organizations geared towards women, she came across Her Century. The organization—that recently expanded into China—is an international network that connects talented women with more experienced mentors who can aid them with career progression.
Now the president of the organization, Dora acknowledges the importance of organizations like Her Century to redress the gender imbalance within the workplace.
“More and more, women are becoming aware of the potential to grow and develop personally and professionally. But the whole society is still male-dominated, especially within the Chinese market.
“There is a clear frustration for females wanting to explore themselves professionally and personally. That’s exactly why organizations like Her Century are really important. Women no longer have to fight alone; they can grow together.
“During the International MBA at IE Business School, I met women from all over the world, and I benefitted from all of them. Now, I want to be the one to give, to share, and to influence.”