This is especially true in typically male-dominated industries such as finance and tech.
Despite the challenges, both Priyanshi Pallan and Hue Hong Pham have been soaring up the finance career ladder.
Priyanshi earned her Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification and has worked as a financial analyst at top multinational banks in India such as Nomura and NatWest.
Similarly, Hue has gained over eight years experience as a strategic analyst at Vietnam's top five commercial banks.
For both women in business, enrolling on an MBA degree was the career move they needed to push themselves out of their comfort zone, empowering them to take risks and open doors to new opportunities.
Receiving guidance from female role models in industry
For women, entering a male-dominated sphere in the business world can be daunting. Forging connections with a female leader or colleague can be invaluable for gaining insights into company culture, understanding the skills needed for success, and being a force of inspiration.
“The lessons and experiences that resonate with men may not always be directly applicable to women so having access to female role models for guidance and support is vital for our growth professionally,” says Hue.
For both Priyanshi and Hue, gaining this support was a huge benefit of studying for the MBA program at HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management, especially as international students in a new business environment in Germany.
During the HHL MBA, students can apply to the New Leipzig Talent program to be partnered with an industry mentor. For up to six months, their mentor provides career guidance and leadership coaching.
Hue was paired with a successful female leader in the finance industry.
“Her insight, encouragement, and practical advice have empowered me to navigate challenges, enhance my professional capabilities and build my confidence,” she says.
Priyanshi also took part in the program. It helped her understand her own strengths and weaknesses and how to play to them in interviews and group work, she says.
“I got to understand my working and management style and build my acumen to better deal with different situations,” she adds.
Building a diverse network
The importance of building a strong network, especially as a woman in business, cannot be understated. However, for many women in the working world, these opportunities can be quite limited.
“I have found that traditional events and conferences in finance have always been quite male centric. As women, we often must be more proactive to make strong connections,” says Hue.
When studying an MBA however, networking with other women in business is a lot easier. This is certainly the case at business schools that boast gender parity among their MBA cohort, such as HHL Leipzig which had 50% female students in its most recent MBA class.
HHL also facilitates female networking for its Women in Business scholarship awardees.
After receiving this scholarship, Priyanshi took part in a case study session to get to know the other scholars and interact with women in senior leadership positions.
“It was extremely inspiring to be surrounded by so many other experienced female professionals and hear about their different fields,” says Priyanshi.
Learning the skills to strive for leadership positions
According to a McKinsey report, for every 100 men promoted from entry level to manager, only 87 women are promoted, and only 82 women of color. As a result, the disparity between men and women in more senior leadership positions widens even further.
“I think a huge hurdle for women in finance is building trust and overcoming bias such as whether women can take on leadership positions or endure pressure,” says Hue.
However, Hue intends to break this bias by becoming a financial director in the tech or e-commerce industry.
During a six-month consulting project acting as lead analyst for a merger and acquisition deal sourcing project with German brewing company Warsteiner, Hue was able to grow her leadership capabilities.
“I learned a lot of valuable lessons on how to foster collaboration and motivate teams to work towards a shared goal,” she says.
Broadening her skills across different finance functions and developing as a well-rounded business professional during the MBA has transformed Hue’s mindset.
“I feel like even in just one year of the MBA I have become someone who is confident to take risks for my career development and strive for leadership,” says Hue.
Opening doors to new career opportunities
An MBA is a catalyst towards a wealth of exciting, new career opportunities—whether advancing to a more senior level, switching industry, or joining a new company.
Through attending recruitment fairs or taking part in company projects and case studies, you never know when doors might open.
During Priyanshi’s time in the HHL MBA, Big Four accounting and professional services firm Ernst & Young (EY) visited campus for a case study session. After being impressed by her innovative solutions and problem-solving skills, EY reached out to Priyanshi to invite her to intern for its strategy and transactions team in Berlin.
Delving into financial and business strategy inspired Priyanshi to pursue a new career path.
“Having always worked in multinationals, I started to recognize that I could be a much larger part of a business’ strategy if I was in a smaller team,” she says.
After graduation, Priyanshi landed a role with Independent Valuation & Consulting AG—a business management consulting and financial advisory in Germany. She is a senior consultant within a team of 45 people.
“Since studying the MBA, I’m always thinking about the bigger picture and about the entire company’s growth, rather than solely my own role,” says Priyanshi.
For women in business, the opportunity to challenge themselves, receive career guidance and mentorship, and build a strong network at a business school that values gender diversity can be an incredibly empowering experience.
“I’m a far more confident and outgoing person than I was before the MBA. I’ve embraced the fact that I can now step out of my comfort zone and be totally fine,” she says.
HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management
Part time MSc Management
I decided on attending this program since it is 100% in English, the option for a Semester abroad, and it has a nicely designed curriculum. I enjoyed very much the studies at the Leipzig location (I do not live in Leipzig and was staying in Airbnb flats with other students during the course weekends). There was great enthusiasm within the students' group, the courses were challenging and we had experienced/diverse professors which added to the overall experience. HHL is focused on teamwork and is big on its network and career development which is a definite value add for students. I can recommend HHL to other students who want to sharpen their skill set to be prepared for leadership positions.
I’m doing my Master Part-time at HHL and love the Journey. The teaching is between good and outstanding. The service around the lectures is amazing. Never had to wait longer than a day for a response. The Network I was able to build and the lecture about entrepreneurship are the major takeaways which strongly influenced my future. I can strongly recommend the Master in Part-time at the HHL for a course with impact. But be prepared they will broaden your horizon and you will have to grow with it.
I am also a recent student at HHL. I would agree with your post wholeheartedly. HHL is brilliant at marketing, however, it's more like a Ponzi scheme. A lot of Indians happen to fall into this trap, including me. I joined HHL while letting ESMT go primarily because I thought Leipzig is a cheaper city to live in and the course is cheaper. Always remember if a deal looks too good it is probably a scam. The studies are extremely below average, the college has an abysmal career centre and the campus is a joke. Now let me give you some deeper insights : 1. Given that the college is located in EAST Germany- you need to understand that RACISM is a truth. The college runs MBA and MSc. (Management). MBA is a mere point of luring students as unaware students come to HHL with dreams and hopes of doing an MBA and getting placed. To break it to you softly: MSc is the FLAGSHIP program for HHL- this means 99% of the class is German, and they got offers from the likes of Mckinsey, Bain and Deutsche come to the Germans. Even the foreigners doing MSc. do not get a whiff of the opportunity- please understand- Germany is a "German" speaking country and not internationalised enough to include "English" as the business language. Nonetheless, HHL is such a weak school that it cannot do **** about anything- their placement cell always keeps on crying but they are of absolutely ZERO help. You will not get any scholarships like the Germans do here thanks to the Dean who promotes this divide between Germans and others by giving scholarships thatd more or less cover the entire tuition fees of the German students. 2. The Academic Director for MBA is definitely someone people look at and think that good there's an Indian there- he has absolutely zero value in HHL and in the research world anyways. He is only out there to lure you in to get a fatter commission-the more Indians he gets in the higher his commission and his job is SAFE. 3. The faculty is so horribly poor in their own research work and competence that you'd feel why did I come here. The only reason why some people come here: VISA and citizenship in a few years. You may also procure a job but with the HHL tag being so weak the salaries are way below AVERAGE. Free advice: So either way if you're planning to come to Germany either perfect your German or choose a different country because colleges like HHL get students from all over the world- after which they do not really give a damn whether you get placed or not- it's ALL BUSINESS TO HHL. I cannot speak about many other colleges, but, due to the sheer presence of colleges like Frankfurt business school, WHU and ESMT in bigger cities such as Frankfurt, Berlin and Dusseldorf provide better chances to network during the duration of the course. Do NOT come to HHL and waste your money. Your entire education and stay would cost 50 lacs, instead invest in BITCOIN or STOCKS. OR just do your Masters in Management from a public University in Germany which is way cheaper, has higher chances of scholarship and better placement opportunities. Hope this helps Thanks.