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The Role Of MBAs In The Rising Number Of Women Leaders

By Tonika Bruce, CEO, Lead Nicely, helps startups, nonprofits and leaders WIN with unique & innovative marketing and business strategies!

Year after year, the top business schools are welcoming more women into their MBA classrooms. Despite the many perceived barriers—like incompatibility of business careers with a healthy work/life balance, lack of encouragement from employers and much more—women are still enrolling into business schools to enhance their careers by pursuing an MBA.

According to a recent report, more women than men have applied to MBA programs, both in-person and online, for the last three years. Even the prestigious Harvard Business School reported that 46% of the class of 2023 is women. This increase not only points to the growing importance of diversity and inclusion in education, but it also demonstrates an evolution in corporate culture, where women are beginning to look differently at the competitive marketplace, the challenges that await them and how they can solve them through broadened observation and circular vision.

MBAs and Black Women Leaders

Beyond just having a business degree, we’ve seen Black female leaders occupy leadership positions in some of the world’s best companies.

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Ramona Hood began working with FedEx Custom Critical at the age of 19, and after devoting 30 years and rising through several managerial roles, she decided to enroll in an MBA program. Between her degree and previous experience, Hood secured the CEO title in 2020.

Black women have even broken records and have become trailblazers. After studying at Howard University, Lillian Lincoln Lambert went on to enroll in Harvard’s MBA program and graduated in 1969—the first Black woman to do so. With her institutional knowledge, she went on to launch Centennial One, a building services company that grew to $20 million in revenue.

Finally, Alicia Boler Davis served as the vice president of customer experience at General Motors, ending her tenure after 25 years. She went on to complete her MBA at Indiana University, graduating in 2015, before joining Amazon in 2019. A year later, she was appointed as the Vice President of Global Customer Fulfillment, making her the first Black president to be part of Amazon’s S-team, a top executive position advising the then-CEO, Jeff Bezos.

These women are just three prominent examples, but there are countless more. Obviously, attending an MBA program isn’t just about business vocabulary and communication, as many consider it. Attending an MBA program provides chances to develop problem-solving skills and how you see the bigger picture when faced with complex decisions. Beyond that, programs often introduce individuals to industry experts who can pass on their wisdom through interactive sessions, case studies, seminars and presentations.

Women Leaders Are Shaping Work Culture

MBAs can empower individuals with the framework to build the necessary financial models that will help their organizations achieve success. These programs equip women to understand the systems that will protect their organizations through innovation and a rapidly disruptive business ecosystem, such as the current Covid-19 landscape.

The value of an MBA degree for women also positions them to push beyond their comfort zones, and this culture is integrated into their respective organization’s leadership mindset. The ultimate result of which is more efficiency and better products for the organization and a winning spirit.

If you’re a woman, and your goal is to earn yourself a seat in a leadership position, pursuing an MBA degree program is one way to make your dream a reality. It can help pave the way for the hundreds of thousands of aspiring women worldwide, regardless of color or background.

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