An over-emphasis on competition in MBA programs is a thing of the past. And business education has shifted towards championing collaboration as an important part of what an MBA is about.
Ranked as the seventh best MBA in Europe by the Financial Times, the MBA at ESADE Business School in Barcelona prioritizes a hands-on teaching methodology, with a special emphasis on teamwork and the value this has on world business. Indeed, collaborative leadership joins creativity, critical thinking and communication as pillars of the curriculum.
The aim is that students develop creative thinking skills, and the ability to move from conceptual thinking to taking action in business through practical tasks in modules such as Managing Ethics and Social Responsibility, where MBAs acquire a general overview of the issues affecting management.
This ethos of inclusion and collaboration is having a positive effect at attracting more and more women MBAs to the program. Last year, ESADE ranked as the best full-time MBA in Europe for women by the Financial Times.
The school has undertaken initiatives during the past years such as the Women Mentorship Programme, the Women in Business Club and the creation of scholarships for women, in order to empower female leaders to break glass ceilings.
The campaign ‘Cross the Line’ launched by ESADE shares the experiences of female MBAs in order to encourage young female talents to meet their potential.
Camila Bahia (pictured below, right) is one such MBA student experiencing this learning environment first-hand.
With a background in architecture and construction, and having recently set up her own lingerie store, Camila wanted to pursue an MBA to gain business acumen to underpin future retail decisions.
She chose ESADE because of its location in Barcelona, as well as the ethos of creativity and inclusion. “There’s opportunities for everyone. Men and women are supported and encouraged equally at ESADE. This really appealed to me,” she enthuses.
Her MBA was made possible thanks to receiving ESADE’s Women in Business scholarship. Designed for women committed to ESADE’s Women in Business Club, Camila explains that it is a great tool for both the school and herself to spread ESADE’s message of inclusivity through talks and events the club hosts, appealing to men to be agents of change as well.
Camila emphasizes teamwork as the highlight of the program, giving her the opportunity to open her mind to new ways of doing things with influences from different cultures and industries, learning the best way to resolve workplace issues.
The Case Competitions at ESADE are the ideal crucible for this focus on collaborative learning.
Camila took part in the Creativity for Business Innovation Challenge where she worked with students from MIT on creative auditing, as well as The First 100 Days Startup Competition in partnership with Wharton. She’s about to travel to the US to present their idea of an Airbnb-style platform for pop-up shops.
Teamwork also attracted Angeliki to the ESADE Business School MBA . Having worked on EU policy in Brussels, she need business acumen to allow an industry switch into cleantech.
“Collaborative learning gives women the space to shine and excel in front of their peers,” she explains, “this is inspiring for fellow female MBAs as well as enlightening for many male peers, changing work culture by changing preconceptions.”
Angeliki also explains that MBAs in general help to make candidates more familiar with situations in which you have to take the lead. This opportunity to practice leadership without real world risk helps to build confidence, especially in female MBAs who often start their careers on the back foot.
She cites the strength of the female faculty—38% of faculty at ESADE are female—as incredibly inspiring. In particular, Gloria Batllori Lloveras, a lecturer renowned at the school for ensuring that the sometimes intimidating subject of finance is motivating and accessible to all. Angeliki loved it despite not feeling confident with numbers when she started her MBA.
Leah Heck (pictured below, right) is another current student on the ESADE Business School MBA who has been enthused by Gloria’s teaching, opening up the typically male-dominated world of finance to future female leaders.
Leah was worried that because she didn’t have a business background, she would struggle at the start. But, the supportive environment immediately put Leah at ease and the focus on collaboration helped her to train her eye to see where different people could add value in a company.
“Gloria is a stands out teacher, her presence demands attention. Finance ended up being my favorite class!” she beams.
Leah believes that MBA degrees are particularly empowering for women as they help to continue the cycle of inspiration, highlighting female business capabilities and ensuring more women end up making big decisions in the boardroom.
A focus on teamwork and collaboration in an MBA program not only gives women the stage to showcase their skills to those who will make up the top echelons of the business world after graduation. It also highlights the importance of sisterhood, both at business school and in the workplace.