“As a young woman in business, I was anxious. Anxious that I had to prove myself all the time,” recalls Part-Time MBA student Sarah, who is just about to start her studies at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. She reflects on her early days in a corporate environment and how much her leadership outlook has evolved.
She addresses these feelings through her successful application for the WHU Women in Business Scholarship, which asks: “What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership? Sarah, a management consultant with IT-background, acknowledges that she felt she could not make mistakes at the beginning of her career. “I’m a person who wants to do everything 100%, and I find it difficult to deprioritize tasks.” She believed she had to do everything right to be successful as a woman. A feeling, she believes, is shared closely with other women in business.
Discussing feelings and emotions can be challenging in a rigid corporate setting. However, in a learning-by-doing moment before a big pitch at work, Sarah was nervous. She revealed this to a senior colleague, and he acknowledged that he was too. Learning that, in her eyes, a competent and successful colleague was also nervous was a light-bulb moment for Sarah. Experiencing his honesty opened her eyes to the fact that even with time, one does not always have to be perfect. Being unsure is a normal part of any business career, even when one is outwardly calm and collected in their field. Modeling an open form of communication through leadership, asking for advice, and emotional intelligence is something Sarah wants to help other women achieve through leadership.
“With my colleagues, I offer help where I can and talk openly about situations that I find challenging. Perhaps I am not sure how to approach a new project or how to solve a problem. I show them that it is okay to not know everything, and they feel more at ease to ask me for help, as I will not judge them for not having the answers. We can be successful without being perfect, especially if we openly communicate and take the opportunity to learn from each other and grow together. I am happy that WHU shares these values and my leadership vision.”
She sees her leadership style as not fitting the prototype of the typical leader but setting a new path for women to succeed in business. Sarah talks about how the Part-Time MBA will help her achieve her goals. She sees her leadership as a form of entrepreneurship, a trait she is learning through a more open, fluid way of thinking known amongst entrepreneurs and characteristic of WHU students. Her style of leadership can work for anyone, not just women. “It’s a positive failure culture, which to me is an entrepreneurial approach,” she adds.
The Women in Business scholarship provides a 50% tuition stipend to cover WHU’s 24-month Part-Time MBA program. A vital component of the Part-Time MBA is “inspiring leadership lectures (that) help you strengthen self-confidence, develop authenticity, and hone individual leadership skills.”
Sarah’s long-term goal is to establish a culture of openness in a larger work environment and influence long-term change within the business world. Honing individual leadership skills through her determination to make change and help women overcome barriers, Sarah already has a strong start with her vision, enhanced by a flexible, career-friendly MBA that values diversity, leadership, and networking. Skills Sarah believes will take her far within her preferred business field of consulting.
“I am excited to see where the MBA program takes me. There are many opportunities to explore different fields and topics, so I am eager to see what ideas grow that I can bring to my work.”