IESE Business School is committed to empowering women to succeed in their careers, offering networking opportunities, vital skills training and expert guidance
In 2022, Maggie Wang gained a master’s in management at the Madrid campus of IESE Business School, the graduate business school of the University of Navarra in Spain. Without the skills she acquired during her course, she says she would not have achieved her current role at Boston Consulting Group in Dubai. “It provided me with a lot of guidance, both from an academic perspective and a career perspective,” she says.
IESE offers a range of business-focused courses, from senior executive programmes to a full master’s in business administration. The school supports women to progress in business through a range of mechanisms, such as its Women in Business Club and international conferences on female leadership. “In class, the cohort was around 50/50 in terms of gender, so it was already an inclusive environment,” Wang says. “The faculty also has a good gender balance, and the career development service provides strong role models. They have empathy with whatever stage you’re at.”
Wang says the support offered for women by IESE is crucial because it creates a more level playing field. “If you have opportunities open to you from the beginning of your career, it means you have options rather than only one way forward,” she explains. Having access to female role models through faculty members or networking opportunities means women can broaden their career aspirations, whether that’s a business role, becoming a partner in a consulting firm or working in a senior government job.
Coming from China, where social and career paths tend to be static, this has been a valuable eye-opener for Wang. “I didn’t know there were so many chances available until I studied abroad. Now I know what others have done and can make my own decisions,” she says.
One of the benefits of the gender-balanced and welcoming environment at IESE is that Wang feels empowered to voice her opinions in class, Wang says. “We learn about organisational behaviour and men get to learn about the inequalities women face, but we also turn that around,” she explains. “Do men feel they don’t have as many opportunities if these are offered to women, for example? It’s good for both sides to sit and listen because if we only think of our own biases, we neglect this.”
Networking opportunities frequently connect students with women who are working for their target employers, and who can share wisdom on the application process and what it’s like to work there. “I applied for a digital consulting role at Boston Consulting Group and was paired with a woman alumna who was in that specific role – effectively a personalised networking opportunity for me. I’ve also met with women working in consulting in the Middle East, which has helped me in terms of cultural expectations here in Dubai,” adds Wang. Most importantly, achieving the master’s at IESE has opened doors for her and her peers. “We have different ideas of success but have all got to achieve our goals,” she says.