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Tech Startups, MBA Jobs At Amazon—How One B-School Is Blazing A Trail For Women In Tech

Technology was the industry of choice among EDHEC Business School’s graduating MBA class of 2016, of which 40% were women

Britta Tilsner had always wanted to work for Amazon. Throughout her career in the technology industry—working for T-Systems in Vienna and then Salesforce in Dublin—she kept her eyes open for job openings at the world’s largest online retailer.

In 2014, she decided to pursue the 10-month MBA program at France’s EDHEC Business School, which lists Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook among its top MBA employers.

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Later, Britta would land her dream job; senior product manager at Amazon in Munich.

“The MBA program at EDHEC helped me to get out of my comfort zone and aim higher,” Britta explains. “When I started the program, I had an idea in mind what I wanted to do afterwards. But that changed completely after a couple of months.

“Getting to know so many amazing people with interesting backgrounds and different experiences just made me realize how many opportunities and possibilities there are.”

The EDHEC MBA is ranked among the top 25 MBA programs in the world, and first in France for opening new career opportunities, by the Economist.

Like many of her colleagues, the EDHEC MBA provided a platform for Britta to pursue a career in a tech industry still dominated by men. EDHEC is partnered with the Professional Women’s Network (PWN), offering scholarships for promising women MBAs.

Britta chose EDHEC for its ranking and affordability—the EDHEC MBA costs €44,000 ($52,000), half the price of similarly-ranked MBA programs in the US.

Diversity was also important. In 2017, 30 different nationalities were represented in the MBA class. 40% of students were women. The school recently started PWN breakfasts with tech leader IBM, allowing 15 women to share breakfast at the boardroom table to discuss issues facing women in leadership and business.

“I learned a lot at EDHEC from the other female students’ work experience and career goals,” Britta says.

EDHEC Business School offers four MBA specialization tracks: International Finance; Global Leadership; Entrepreneurship; and Digital Innovation. Still, technology was the industry of choice among EDHEC’s graduating MBA class of 2016.

Recent MBA grad Hind Salih is looking to re-enter the tech industry in a different way. After leaving her native Morocco over a decade ago to study computer science in Paris, she started a career as an IT consultant and infrastructure manager at a private bank in Dubai.

“That made me think about pursuing a cutting-edge international business program to translate my business experience into a startup idea,” she says.

Hind took the entrepreneurship track at EDHEC, enjoying business trips to South Africa and Silicon Valley. Now, she’s looking to create an online marketplace and community for entrepreneurs. She used her MBA studies to work on her business plan.

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“At EDHEC, I learned just how determined, flexible and passionate you need to be to lead a startup journey,” she says. “As a new entrepreneur, I can gain big advantage from the school’s large MBA network—[30,000 alumni to date].”

Whatever the entry route into a post-MBA career in tech, Britta still think there’s a way to go to correct the gender imbalance at some of the world’s leading tech firms.

Just 25.8% of Microsoft’s employees are women. In fact, only 30% of the 7 million people working in tech in Europe are women according to the EU Commission. Man or woman, it’s a competitive industry and it takes perseverance to get noticed.

“It’s not easy to get in, but I found a position that matches my skills and work experience, and I was persistent,” says Britta.

Business schools like EDHEC have a big role to play in supporting women in tech—in getting jobs or starting businesses of their own. Certainly, for Hind, an MBA helps.

“I believe that women are closer to unlocking their potential in business and taking up more leadership roles because of programs like the EDHEC Global MBA,” she says.

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