When it comes to leadership roles, women in business continue to be underrepresented, but Beth Guo believes that business schools can help. Through an MBA at the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB), she was able to launch a new career with Microsoft, and support other women in the business world.
Though women made up just 38% of students on MBA programs in 2018, more and more are choosing to pursue graduate business education. Between July 2017 and June 2018, 46.3% of GMAT exam takers were women, up from 39.5% 10 years ago.
One school bucking the trend of male-focused business programs is CKGSB, which boasts 50% women on its MBA.
“CKGSB has great values,” alum Beth Guo attests. "We had a lot of girls in our class, and we’re all good friends and still support each other in study, work, and daily life.”
Beth came to CKGSB as the founder of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) youth program, which focuses on youth involvement in politics and business in the Asia Pacific region.
As well as that, Beth served as the executive secretary general of APEC’s Women Connect project, which helps motivate young women into business by supporting their entrepreneurial ventures.
With such high-profile experiences in her portfolio, what made her decide to do an MBA?
“What I did felt meaningful and valuable, but it’s difficult for us to make much profit,” Beth admits. “The best way to make projects like this survive is to run the organization as a business.”
So, Beth took her experience to the MBA at CKGSB in Beijing, a program which offers “a powerful network, and profound, solid knowledge,” she says.
Women at CKGSB
With half of the MBA class made up by women, Beth immediately felt supported at CKGSB.
“You know that this place really respects women’s power,” Beth says. “The school encourages women to do their best, and this comes from professors on one hand but also the faculty and careers center.”
Important parts of this, Beth says, are women-run projects at the school, such as the Women’s Day, where “they invite female alumni to come back to school and share their experience.”
“There are plenty of seminars and events to support women in the community, to encourage and empower,” Beth adds.
Every year, the school also hosts the Women in Leadership Forum, a collaboration with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Previous speakers have included Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and British Ambassador to China Barbara Woodward.
In addition, the school offers a dedicated scholarship for women, which aims to seek out talented future business leaders.
“There’s a strong ability and drive to help each other,” at CKSGB, Beth notes. “I’m friends with plenty of the female faculty—there were lots of role models I can learn from.”
A new career with Microsoft
After graduating, Beth leaped into her role as executive secretary general of APEC’s Women Connect program, where she uses her MBA skills to “empower women, especially through digital transformation,” she explains.
In January of this year, however, she joined Microsoft China as an Account Manager, developing digital training for vulnerable groups to have basic digital skills. “Previously I promoted diplomatic literacy; now I believe that digital literacy is another skill that young people should possess,” she says.
Beth believes the support she has had from CKGSB helped her land the role. “Especially with applying, the career management center helped me a lot with my application, resume, interview skills, and background research,” she says.
Beth isn’t only supporting women through her role with APEC, but also in her personal life, sponsoring triplet girls. “My first month’s paycheck, I wanted to buy myself a gift, but then I used money to support the girls through tuition,” Beth admits.
“When you’re young, it’s not easy for you to get a role model to look up to. Female college students especially need someone to look up to!”
Supporting women in business
For Beth, business education is the key to empowering women in business.
“Education is crucial to women,” she says. “An MBA is a way to embrace technology and rapid change, and gain an important mindset.”
Beth believes that the MBA program “actually changed my life,” not only through her acquisition of business skills, but also in the application of these in her job.
“After the MBA program, I had a really different way of looking at life, and especially how business can work with charity,” she reflects. “Alongside my work with Microsoft, I am still fulfilling my dreams of making the world a better place.
“What I feel is that helping women shouldn’t be a short-term commitment, but for life!”
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