Helene Nordgreen is an ESADE Business School MBA student flying the flag for women in business. She’s president of the school’s women in business club, and has been promoting gender equality and organizing career workshops for women since joining the school in 2016.
To celebrate International Women’s Day 2017, she’s invited Spanish artist Clara Cabrera on campus to do a live large canvas painting. The women in business club will leading the festivities, serving food and handing out mimosa flowers, an Italian women’s day tradition.
Originally from Norway – where companies are legally required to have a 40% share of women at boardroom level – and surrounded by two influential grandmothers growing up, Helene is career ambitious and passionate about women’s rights.
She accepted a tennis scholarship to study in the US at undergraduate level, and went on to work in finance roles at PayPal in Ireland before relocating to Spain for her MBA.
At ESADE, 94% of Helene’s classmates are fellow internationals, 32% are women. She picked ESADE over IESE Business School for its collaborative community spirit, and plays soccer twice a week with a group of girls from her class.
Helene says the MBA is an enabler for women in business, giving them a competitive edge. After graduation, she’ll look to continue a career in the tech field, where – according to the EU Commission - only 30% of the 7 million employed workers are women.
What is the future for women in business? Will women soon occupy as many top-level CEO roles as men?
The future for women in business is limitless. I’ve always been passionate about gender equality and I wanted to be involved in the women in business club because I wanted to make an impact.
Still, it will take time and commitment to achieve gender balance at CEO level. My hope is that increased paternity leave - and maternity leave for those countries who don’t have it - will help us get there by minimizing the gender gap in terms of time away from work.
How far is the MBA an enabler for women in business?
The MBA definitely gives women a competitive edge. It gives you visibility and signals that you’re serious about your career, in turn giving you access to top companies and interesting startups. During an MBA program, you develop your international network, you may find a mentor that can guide you throughout your career, and it’s also a safe space where you can take risks and learn from your mistakes.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at ESADE?
I knew for years that I wanted an MBA. Last year, I reached a point where I could either pursue another role within PayPal or apply for an MBA. My gut told me the time was right for my MBA.
I considered IESE, IE and ESADE as one of my goals is to learn Spanish. What stood out about the ESADE MBA was the emphasis on team work and the collaborative spirit, the combination of different teaching methodologies, and the small class size. It’s also one of the world’s top 20 MBA programs, making it a very competitive degree.
How have you profited from your ESADE MBA experience so far?
So far I’ve vastly improved my presentation skills thanks to countless presentations and our amazing communications professor, Lola Martinez. I’ve been exposed to industries and job roles I wasn’t aware of, and attended interesting company presentations and conferences.
I’ve also revived my football skills - I play football twice a week with some of the other girls from the ESADE MBA and it’s a lot of fun! The best part, however, has been meeting and working in teams with amazing people from all over the world, some of whom are now my very good friends.
What are your plans for the future?
After my MBA, I want to keep working in the tech industry, but I would like to move towards product or project management. There’s a lot happening in tech right now and I want to be a part of creating the future. I want to inspire people, and I think my MBA is giving me the tools I need to do so.
I’d like to stay in Europe, but I wouldn’t say no to an amazing opportunity elsewhere. Eventually I’d love to utilize my transferrable skills from the tech industry to work on empowering women at an organization like the United Nations.