In the midst of the media storm provoked by the Weinstein allegations and the Time’s Up movement, 2018 is shaping up to be a watershed moment for working women.
There’s perhaps never been more on offer for women looking to get into business and hoping to make connections, even in notoriously male-dominated fields like tech and finance.
Like QS's Women in Leadership MBA sessions which, Isabelle Pasmantier, Western Europe Marketing Director at leading MBA events firm QS, explains, are designed to empower women to take the next step in their career.
“We believe gender shouldn't be a barrier to achievement and the event aims to boost female confidence when applying to an MBA program, improving communication skills, discussing the work-life balance, and highlighting the career benefits of an MBA," she says.
“Our mission statement according to Nunzio Quacquarelli, co-founder and CEO of QS, is to enable motivated people anywhere in the world to fulfil their potential through educational achievement, international mobility, and career development. Helping women to reach senior management positions through bettering their education is an essential part of our mission.”
It’s important not to underestimate the positive impact that an in-person introduction to someone influential can have on your career, or on a potential MBA application—though online events are becoming increasingly common and are very accessible, they’re no substitute for the real thing.
"It’s difficult to replace the face-to-face experience," says Christophe Coutat, founder of the Advent Group who run MBA events company, Access MBA.
Speaking at the MERIT Summit for executive education in Lisbon last month, he said that "schools need face-to-face interaction: without it, feeling the market, meeting companies and other stakeholders, and understanding the culture is extremely complex.”
Events for women in business also help to alleviate the issue of women shying away from making an investment in themselves—"All too often in the past, many women applicants would discount the quality of their profile and achievements," says Matt Symonds, co-founder of QS and Fortuna Admissions, who's heading up Poets & Quants' CentreCourt MBA Festival.
"My co-directors at Fortuna Admissions are former admissions directors from INSEAD, Wharton and LBS," Matt continues, "and they often perceived a difference in how men and women told their personal stories. Women showed greater risk-aversity to the cost of the MBA, and sometimes struggled to be their own best champion.
"Central to the idea of the CentreCourt MBA Festival is the idea of instilling that self belief, for any potential MBA applicant. So if women want to find out if business school will be right for them, how they can make sense of the investment, and whether they have a chance to be accepted, the best next step is to talk to the gatekeepers at CentreCourt."
Whether applying for an MBA or not, women in business often face unique obstacles, and so networking with other businesswomen in order to share experiences, advice, and to move forward together, is invaluable.
Here's eight events women in business must attend in 2018:
When: March 3rd (Paris), March 10th (London), 13.30–18.00
Where: The Hyatt Etoile Hotel, Paris; The QEII Center, London
Why: The QS World MBA Tour is an essential experience for any MBA applicant, allowing prospective MBAs to discuss their application face-to-face with over 30 top MBA admissions directors and alumni. Attendees can take part in presentations and admissions panels and will also benefit from cv help from a career expert
The QS World Tour also offers some financial incentives. Those who attend are eligible to apply to QS’s scholarship platform, containing a combined total of $7 million in scholarships, and certain schools also waive the application fee for QS World Tour attendees.
The Paris and London stops of the tour particularly emphasize women in business, with Women in Leadership panel discussions and networking sessions taking place over the course of the day.
When: March 3rd
Where: Tate Modern, London
Why: In addition to panels with deans and admissions directors from 10 top business schools, CentreCourt hosts an admissions-focused session that aims to replicate the kind of discussions that go on in an MBA admissions office.
There will also be a chance to talk with admissions officers and alumni at a meet-and-greet session, who will be joined by Fortuna executives including Emma Bond (former head of admissions at LBS), Malvina Miller (former assistant director at Harvard Business School), and Cassandra Pittman (former associate director at INSEAD and Columbia Business School).
Take this networking opportunity to assert your value to your dream schools, and find out about their gender diversity—not just among the student body, but the faculty as well.
When: March 15th, 16.00 – 21.00
Where: Warwick New York Hotel, New York, NY
Why: The Access MBA World Tour allows attendees to meet admissions directors on a one-to-one basis in scheduled individual meetings, and to receive admissions advice from the Access MBA Consulting team.
Access MBA attendees can also take part in panel discussions with school representatives and alumni: an invaluable resource for female applicants looking to ask questions about the institutional culture at a business school.
When: June 15th-16th
Where: The Hilton, Atlanta, GA
Why: The Forté Foundation is an essential resource for aspiring businesswomen. Forté is a non-profit working to connect women in business to education, opportunities, and to each other.
This two-day conference features 100 speakers and presenters from a variety of backgrounds, includes the “Forté Power Pitch” where women pitch their business ideas, and plays host to numerous panel discussions and workshops.
As well as allowing prospective MBAs to learn by example from the best women in various fields, attendance at the Forum will also introduce you to Forté’s partner schools. Forté give out fellowships for women MBA students each year in a bid to get more women into business education, and these fellowships are awarded by the schools themselves.
By introducing yourself and making a good impression, you can learn where to apply to be in with the best chance of receiving a fellowship, and meet hundreds of inspiring women in the process!
When: May and November
Where: Edinburgh and London
Why: Run by Management Today, the Inspiring Women in Business Conferences are a chance for UK businesswomen to network and learn.
Already lined up for the Edinburgh conference, which takes place on May 15th, there are panel discussions on entrepreneurship, diversity, and digital fluency, with speakers from organizations like the Women’s Business Council, Clydesdale Bank, and Skyscanner.
When: March 9th
Where: London Business School, London
Why: Taking place this year under the title of “Working Together: From Awareness to Results”, LBS’s Women in Business Conference aims to tackle some of the questions recently raised about gender in the workplace.
Among the speakers are Baroness Patience Wheatcroft, non-executive director of Fiat Chrysler and St. James’s Place PLC., and Irina Bokova, former director-general of UNESCO.
With frequent breaks for networking and discussions ranging from problem identification to concrete solutions, the conference looks set to be a timely response to the issues that have surfaced in the past year—a valuable learning experience for women at all levels of their business careers.
When: June 10th – 12th
Where: Doubletree by Hilton, San Jose, CA
Why: If you’re a woman in tech looking to launch a career in the US, the Women in Technology Summit is an essential stop.
Coaching workshops and lectures are partnered with valuable networking sessions in the heart of California’s famed Silicon Valley, providing aspiring or current tech entrepreneurs and businesswomen with the opportunity to connect with and learn from the best in the field.
When: March 8th (International Women's Day)
Where: Emerson Auditorium in Knight Hall, Washington University
Why: Titled "The 'She' Suite: Celebrate International Women's Day With Women In The C-Suite And In Leading Roles", this timely event will feature panels, presentations, and networking sessions with successful alumni from Washington University's MBA and EMBA programs.
They'll discuss the challenges of being a woman in the upper echelons of business as well as the benefits, and share the knowledge they've gained over the course of their careers.