An MBA can make you even more of a “Wonder Woman”

By Rachelle Gaskell (Executive MBA 2014)

In the words of Wonder Woman, if you want to discover and hone your full powers and drive towards true destiny, a Henley MBA will play a huge part in helping you make that happen!

For cinema-goers and DC Comic fans, June 1st 2017 was a big day: the new Wonder Woman film hit the big screen.

Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, Princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior.  Raised on a sheltered island Paradise, Diana meets an American pilot who tells her about the massive conflict that’s raging in the outside world. Convinced that she can stop the threat, Diana leaves her home for the first time, fighting alongside men in the war to end of all wars and she finally discovers her full powers and true destiny.

Director Patty Jenkins is the first woman to direct a big-budget superhero movie and Wonder Woman is on track to become the biggest opening for a female director ever.

An interesting concept…….   “Full Powers & True Destiny versus Women in Leadership”

Back in March, we all celebrated International Women’s Day. The theme this year focused on “Women in the Changing World of Work” The world of work is changing, with significant implications for women. On the one hand, technological advances and globalisation bring unprecedented opportunities for those who can access them. On the other hand, there is growing informality of labour, income inequality and humanitarian crises.

Why do an MBA?

An MBA is an opportunity for a woman to invest in herself, her career and her future.

A business school environment does teach you how to speak up, defend your position and, perhaps most importantly, not to crack when you are challenged. It gives you a much thicker skin and it will up your comfort with risk. As you work through case studies, you will be working with partial information so you will learn to take bets on not only certain proposals and start ups but also on yourself.

Business school will lessen your inner perfectionist thinking and, in the words of Sheryl Sandberg, “Done is Better than Perfect”, you will become more agile and quicker at completing tough deliverables without sacrificing quality. Something that, generally speaking, will help you “round up” in terms of what you can achieve in your career and not down.

An MBA will help you hack it in a competitive environment, give you the ability to get a bunch of “Type A” personalities to work together as a team – learning how to battle, struggle and aim for the top prize. You will become more numbers-savvy. At the end of the day, we all have to prove our end-game with numbers.

My Journey

My journey to MBA was full of twists, turns, fate and good luck. My background is in banking.  Identified as Top Talent in GE Money, I was selected to join General Electric’s Experienced Commercial Leadership Program for Sales and Marketing Talent. Our class was comprised of 100 men and 20 women with 60% recruited from top business schools, the remaining 40% were recruited as internal hires to program without an MBA.

In 2008 I relocated to the USA for a Mergers, Acquisition and Operations rotation, flying around the world. For my next rotation, I relocated back to London into a global role bringing together best practise across 50 businesses and my next rotation would have meant a move to Singapore. However, this was now 2009 and the world as knew it was in the thick of recession so, long story short, due to a redundancy situation, I left GE.

Having participated in a Leadership Program without an MBA I decided I was “going to go get an MBA” in that it would be mine to keep. I looked at Henley Business School based on reputation. The style of study offered by the Flexible Executive MBA suited me because the blended style of learning allowed me to study and gain an MBA regardless of where my work travel commitments took me.

When interviewing with an organisation that was to become my next employer, I mentioned I was looking to undertake a Henley MBA. It so happened that this organisation already partnered with Henley Business School for their Executive Leadership Development and upon joining, my handshake hello was the cost of my MBA being paid in full.

The MBA is a marathon and not a sprint. It is a journey of growth, an evolution.

In GE, I was trained to fix underperforming sales teams. Taking my transformation experience post-MBA, I transitioned into Operations to fix a number of teams post-migration.

Today, I oversee a call centre, complaints team and customer service for a UK Bank. Fast-moving, a live 24-hour, 7-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year environment, it is tough. I am the only female Vice President in Operations. The Henley MBA has given me knowledge and an understanding of the helicopter view of a business. When I have to stand my ground or challenge, I can kill an argument with fact and rational thought process. The Henley MBA has given me the confidence to do so.

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