Olimpia Mascolo started her first business at 22. 10 years down the line, she owns her own perfume brand, Anfasic Dokhoon, and a network of 50 points of sales across the Middle East. This year, she decided to pursue an Executive MBA at Hult International Business School.
“I committed to an EMBA because I was seeking development as an entrepreneur,” she says. “I wanted to validate the knowledge I had acquired while building my business and finding new frameworks that could help me further develop the company.
“From the very first day, my journey at Hult has led me to explore things that were very new to me,” Olimpia continues. “My experience is as an entrepreneur with a creative background. At Hult, I’ve worked with engineers, consultants, and finance experts.
“The EMBA has given me a new perspective and broadened my understanding of business.”
The popularity of entrepreneurship among young women like Olimpia is on the rise. In the US, an estimated 11.3 million women-owned business were in operation in 2016 – according to an American Express OPEN report. Between 2007 and 2016, the number of women-owned firms in the US increased by 45%, compared to a 9% increase among all businesses.
And more women are going to business school in search of a career change – in fact, 10% of Hult graduates go on to start their own company.
Students on Hult’s Masters in International Business can specialize in entrepreneurship, exploring hot topics like disruptive business models and social innovation. Through the Hult Business Challenge – where students apply their learnings in real-life scenarios – budding entrepreneurs can develop their own startup ideas and pitch them to a panel of experts.
In 2014, Sofie Annikki Dralle moved out from a job in mergers and acquisitions to join Hult’s Masters in International Business based in London.
“I wanted to make a big change,” she says. “I had the idea for my startup, but I knew I had a lot to learn before I could manage every aspect of the business. I was drawn to Hult’s purposely practical curriculum and focus on entrepreneurship.
“At Hult, I loved the access to entrepreneurs, and being surrounded by intelligent people,” she continues. “Working with other strong personalities readies you for the real world, and you learn to put business first and ego second.”
Sofie started StopMyCraving, an e-commerce platform where users can buy healthy snacks and drinks tailored to their specific lifestyle and dietary needs.
At Hult, a professor suggested she start a blog to promote her ideas. She received 12,000 hits in a matter of days. In February 2016, she launched her business. She got her first investment by November.
Now, StopMyCraving has two offices in London and Venice, Italy. Sofie’s also hired a fellow Hult graduate – Tania Biral – who specialized in marketing during her Masters in International Business.
“[Hult] has given me a really amazing network and business opportunities all around the world,” Sofie continues.
“Compared to entrepreneurs who don’t come to business school, I have all the tools as well as the creativity, so it puts me at an advantage. I don’t face the same challenges because I have a holistic, well-rounded overview of the whole picture, including finance, investor relations and so on.”
For women entrepreneurs, the benefits of business school extend across experience levels. Just three years after graduating with a Masters in International Business from Hult, Pamela Wagner made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list of the world’s brightest young entrepreneurs.
She left a job at Google to found Ajala Digital, a boutique digital agency focused on paid advertising strategies. Now, she works with clients spread across 21 different time zones. Some of her clients are former Hult students.
“When I left Google, I took the chance to absolutely do whatever I wanted to do for the first time in my life,” she says. “At that time, I thought that there were already so many digital agencies out there – so why add another one?
“However, the first projects started coming in and I realized that, whatever market you want to enter, you can always stand out by making things better or specializing in a niche where you can rise to the top.”