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WHU MBA Alumna Jessica Tan

Fostering holistic and inclusive leadership in the WHU MBA Program.

Jessica Tan on empowering women and gaining a broad perspective.

Intelligent, ambitious, and an avid entrepreneur – Jessica Ardelia Tan is everything you imagine an MBA student to be. With a family business and co-founder of her own venture based in Indonesia, Jessica has an impressive CV full of accolades, clubs, and even a competitive golf career on the side. “We (my husband and I) are participating in the World Amateur Match Race. We are now in the quarter-final, and next, we are competing against others in Germany with the final held in Dubai.”

Before moving to Germany, Jessica had a high-flying investment banking career in Singapore and a marketing analytics career in Indonesia. She found she was feeling burnt out, and the pandemic gave her a chance to reassess her goals. “I thought that perhaps an MBA would be a productive way to spend a gap year,” she says. “Completing an MBA was something I have always wanted to do, and I felt it held a lot of answers to the questions I had back then. I suffered a lot from imposter syndrome in my career, and I felt that I had already been judged for my gender even before I spoke. I wanted to sharpen my business acumen and improve my analytical and strategic skills through frameworks and case studies.”

As an international living in Germany, living abroad is nothing new for Jessica – she has lived overseas for almost 15 years in various countries, including Australia and Singapore. “I had never been to Europe before applying for the MBA, but I heard about WHU through family and friends and researched more into the rankings, the international modules, and its Career Center. I signed up for an info session, and the admissions team significantly helped my decision-making. They were there from step one all the way to the start of the program, arranging classes I could join and signing me up for a buddy program to speak to current students. They answered all my questions about life in Dusseldorf. So, my first impression of WHU was very positive; it seemed to be a caring and supportive institution.”

She also saw an opportunity to combine the MBA she always wanted with a chance to also gain market knowledge. Helping the family business in Indonesia grow is a big priority for Jessica. Additional European market knowledge, besides being closer to the Netherlands (as the focus of the family business is flowers), would be a plus. “I have changed industries a lot in my career. Each has transferable skills to equip me to be more holistic in how I eventually continue the family business. I felt like general management skills were missing and that an MBA could pull together my experience and fill in the gaps.”

Jessica could not be more optimistic about her overall MBA experience at WHU. She was awarded the WHU Globalization Scholarship and joined all the available international modules, including Dubai, Lisbon, and Austria, where the final leadership credo module was held. “It was very sentimental: it felt like the perfect conclusion to the whole MBA experience and bonded our cohort together.”

“I gained so much from the MBA program, not just knowledge but also soft skills and a vast network. We got to know almost 30 different nationalities in our class, tackled cultural challenges, and used that diversity to our advantage. It’s unique to WHU and representative of our globalized world. The class sizes are small, which makes it feel like a community: never have I had professors who knew their students by their first names! It checked all the boxes for my expectations, especially for networking, cross-cultural learning, and life-changing experiences.”

Jessica is also a member of the WHU Women in Business club, which aims to inspire and support WHU members to achieve gender equality in the workplace. “In Asian countries like Indonesia, gender equality is not as advanced as in Western countries. I feel this is less about education and more about a gap in ambition. Women often discount themselves due to cognitive bias. I feel like the club is a great platform where we can truly empower women and invite men to be our allies.”

“My mother has always been a business owner. In Indonesia, people are very entrepreneurial as salaries are often meager compared to living costs. It’s a developing country, so the wealth gap is huge, and it’s hard without an additional income – it’s a means of survival. My father expanded the business once he retired from his corporate job; growing up, they were both my inspirations. It helped me form this idea of what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be in life.”

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