Maria Paz Del Real only applied to one business school for her MBA. She chose the Bath School of Management’s one-year MBA – ranked among the top 60 full-time MBAs in the world by the Economist.
Why? After several years working in sales for LATAM Airlines in her native Chile, Maria wanted to take her career to the international stage. Bath’s intimate, 40-50 student MBA class is comprised of around 25 different nationalities, South Americans included. 43% of MBA students are women.
Maria lives in university accommodation in Bath city center – a UNESCO World Heritage site. She graduates from the UK-based school in September this year. Already, she’s visited and networked with representatives from multinational companies like Barclays, Cadbury’s, and Jaguar Land Rover in London.
Now, she’s looking to land jobs within the tourism industry in the UK and mainland Europe. She’s well-placed to do so. 98% of Bath MBAs are hired within six months of graduation.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at Bath?
I realized that to jump in my career I needed an MBA. I was working in sales, so I didn’t see the finance or marketing side of things. I wanted to refresh everything in my mind.
I wanted to come to the UK because of the language. I did an exchange at Bath at undergrad, and I liked the atmosphere here. The Bath MBA is like a boutique MBA; you have only 40-to-50 people in the class and the professors are really close to the students.
We have a core fixed part of the curriculum, spine activities - where they teach soft skills, how to make a good resume, how to behave in an interview – and then electives so you can learn more or less what you want to learn.
What advice do you have for applicants from South America considering an MBA at Bath?
It’s easier than it looks [to adapt]! Ask as many questions as possible; the team at the university are always happy to help. With housing for example, it’s cheaper to live in a university building - bills, internet, everything is included.
Come several weeks before the MBA to enjoy the city as a tourist. There’s a course for non-native-English speakers which helped me study the MBA with a lot more confidence.
When I was in university in South America I only had exams at the end of a semester. Here, we have to write 3,000-word essays. When you learn English, you learn more colloquial English. So, to see how to write and order sentences in an academic style was really helpful.
What stands out from your Bath MBA experience so far?
I’m amazed by the quality of our professors. Sometimes, we have classes with the same professor from 9AM to 5PM, but they still keep us interested all day. At the beginning of the MBA, they ask us about what we’re interested and our career ambitions. So, they prepare classes knowing who their audience is.
And the MBA class is super close. If you need something, you will always find someone from your class who’s happy to help.
How will the Bath MBA help you reach your career goals?
My industry is not a typical one for MBAs. Even so, Bath has helped me prepare my resume, prepare for interviews, and given me advice about where to look for jobs.
If you want a private session with a careers coach, it’s going to be super expensive. Here, we have that as part of the MBA. We practiced for job interviews like they were real. They filmed us and gave us feedback. That helped so much because when you apply for jobs you’re just told ‘yes’ or ‘no’; you never really get any feedback. Now, I feel more confident looking for jobs in the UK.
Bath is also one of a few universities selected by the UK government where international students can get a six-month visa, rather than a four-month visa, for after they graduate. Six months is a good period for companies to have an intern. So, the university is helping us find internships, and sending us options all the time. At Bath, if you want to get a job, you have the contacts to do so.
What is the future for women in business? Will top-level CEO roles soon be occupied by as many women as men?
I don’t agree with quotas. It should be about having the best people to occupy the roles. In tourism, there are a lot of women. In other industries, like finance or manufacturing, it’s going to be difficult.
For sure, I think that an MBA helps. If you want to apply for a managerial role and you are a woman – even if you have 20 years’ experience in an area – it’s always going to be more difficult. The MBA shows on paper what you have achieved.