MBA Program

How Students Drive Gender Equality in the WHU MBA Program

2022 Women in Business Scholarship Winner, Nina Malakhova, explains more

Diversity is a crucial part of the WHU MBA program; not only is the program diverse in gender, but in culture, industry, and experience. Students benefit from varied ideas and opinions to gain a broader perspective and new insights. To support such diversity, the WHU MBA program and UK organization, the 30% Club, offer one 50% scholarship to a top female applicant each year. This year’s winner is Part-Time MBA student Nina Malakhova. We catch up with her to find out about her values, work ethic, and why she decided to pursue an MBA.

Equity vs. equality

Currently a Salesforce Solution Architect for Capgemini, Nina joined the MBA program in September this year and, after submitting a video entry for the Women in Business Scholarship, succeeded as the 2022 winner. “I didn’t expect to get the scholarship because I knew how amazing the other entrants are. I feel fortunate, very appreciative, and very humbled.”

Her video entry concentrates on the power of equity in an environment over equality, describing personal experiences and her time in a mainly male-dominated industry. “Often, I am the only woman and the youngest colleague in leadership meetings. It can be intimidating, but I want it to be different for other women. I want to empower them to pursue ambitious careers in industries traditionally led by men.”

Born and raised in Russia, Nina moved to Germany nine years ago to study for a second bachelor’s degree in economics, her first being in English Philology . While studying at the university in Saint Petersburg, she joined the world’s largest student-run organization AIESEC, eventually becoming VP for Talent Management. “Their approach to social business really appealed to me. I decided I wanted to explore the topic of social entrepreneurship and talent development business studies in more detail.”

Exploring new ideas

“I’ve always had this entrepreneurial itch,” she adds. “It’s a topic I’ve always wanted to explore. Ever since AIESEC, I have been searching for a community of like-minded people who are intrinsically motivated and want to learn from each other. I have always wanted to polish my business knowledge and the MBA seemed like the perfect solution. The lectures and group atmosphere motivates you, and everyone is engaged and committed to learning. It charges me for the work week.”

When asked what has been most surprising about her MBA experience so far, she points out that although beneficial, it isn’t the network or the knowledge. It is the inspiration she experiences during the lectures. “They don’t mention during the admissions process how energized you are during the week after the classes,” she laughs. “I am brimming with ideas for my current working environment. The MBA program at WHU has, so far, exceeded my expectations.” 

With personal connections to WHU, including colleagues and close friends who graduated from the business school, it was already on her radar when researching where to study for an MBA. “I started looking at MBA fairs such as QS and made a shortlist. Knowing several WHU alumni in person made it easy to pick the business school. Every one of them not only has an impressive CV, but is an impressive, smart, and inspiring personality, demanding and extremely professional.  I wanted to become a part of a network of professionals who were like that. I also prefer the part-time format as it gives me a chance to get out of Berlin for the weekend and be fully immersed in the study experience.”

Women supporting women

As a woman in IT, Nina is very sincere when she talks about supporting other women in similar positions. “If I have the experience and the ability to do so, I believe I should be loud and make people think about how they can bring greater diversity and equity to their environments. I will be loud and annoying about it until they think about how they can change something.”

Nina is involved in several initiatives empowering women, especially those lacking female role models in senior positions. “None of the women I meet are afraid to be ambitious, but they are cautious about approaching certain situations in their working environments. I tell them to be bold. When I see them achieve the positions they want, it is very fulfilling and inspiring. They grow in confidence and go on to empower other women. That gives me the energy and motivation to go and put the time in again and again.”

As for her future aspirations and goals, Nina has her sights set on exploring sustainability and entrepreneurship. “I am very much inspired by entrepreneurs and how they fully commit to an idea. I one day want to give back to society. I would love to use my energy and skills to focus it on doing something that will help the make the planet a better place for others.”