In March this year, GMAC released a white paper to mark International Women’s Day, based on a survey of 5,900 business school applicants worldwide. 29% of female survey respondents cited financial issues as the key reason why they had not yet accepted their admissions offer to business school.
In the US, 38% of female survey respondents cited financial reasons, compared with 20% of male respondents.
Duygu Ates worked for six years in financial services for top firms like KPMG before deciding to pursue an MBA. She came across Barcelona’s ESADE Business School at an MBA fair in Istanbul – drawn by a customizable MBA experience with flexible exit points at 12, 15, and 18 months.
Unable to finance the MBA on her own, she applied for ESADE’s Women of the World Scholarship, designed to help promote women in business. Without it, she’d have had to defer. Now she’s one of a number of MBA students flying the flag for women in business at ESADE – ranked among the 20 best MBA programs in the world by the Financial Times.
The 190-student ESADE MBA class is 32% women and 94% international, composed of 48 different nationalities. Duygu is a leading member of ESADE’s Women in Business club. Determined to kick-start her career in finance, she’s exploring a range of career opportunities at ESADE.
The opportunities are there. In 2015, 96% of ESADE MBAs changed either industry, role, or location after graduation.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at ESADE?
Doing an MBA abroad has always been one of my goals for my professional career. I was just waiting for the right time to apply to the right program. An MBA, as a career break, may seem as a risky move. ESADE gives students the chance to customize their MBA based on their career focus and opportunities, and leverage their past experiences.
It was attractive to live in a different country that I have visited several times before, although I could not speak its language. However, thanks to the diversity of ESADE, I never feel alone or isolated in my new journey. Now, I have more than 200 friends from 40 countries!
How big an issue was funding the MBA for you?
Without ESADE’s Women of the World Scholarship, I might have deferred my MBA. Fortunately, as in my case, if you don’t have enough personal savings to pay for your MBA, there are numerous scholarships at ESADE that help students reach their MBA goals. Now, I am a part of the Women in Business Club and we are trying to increase the number of these scholarships with the help of the program management.
What stands out from your MBA experience at ESADE so far?
Since joining ESADE, I have been continuously introduced to new opportunities, ideas, people and challenges at the business level. Pushing my limits and moving out of my comfort zone are the biggest gains so far.
During my first semester, I was one of 20 students to be selected for the Career Acceleration Program in Investment Banking. I’ve had the chance to further improve my finance skills, gain more insight about this competitive business environment, and meet people from this industry.
What advice do you have for MBA applicants?
A school’s reputation is important and the MBA rankings help a lot, but they are not enough to decide.
Define a focus subject within an MBA program. Some programs have more finance classes than others, while some have a strong marketing focus. Dive deep into the curricula! If an applicant wants to change career in terms of industry, function or country, it would be beneficial to do more research about the school’s job placement performance in each industry.
How far is the MBA an enabler for women in business?
Successful work experience it not always enough for women to guarantee a future career path in any industry. There are still some barriers for women in many industries, particularly financial services and consulting. An MBA program is important for women’s careers, as it brings all the tools to the table to accelerate women’s career from the very first day.
Before doing the MBA, I was working in the financial services industry, and I thought I would continue in finance after graduation. However, there are many opportunities that I have become aware of during the MBA – like the entrepreneurship scene in Barcelona, which ESADE is heavily connected with. I am still trying to stick to my finance career plans after MBA, but thanks to the strong ESADE network, I’m also thinking about starting my own