I wasted my money on an MBA

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 “I wasted my money on an MBA!”

She really said that, as we were discussing her career.

She had just run me through her career. Graduating summa cum laude in engineering, she had quickly been offered a position in a manufacturing company. Despite giving it her all and getting great results, she didn’t get promoted in the years that followed. Instead, she was constantly told she was still young and needed to prove herself first. Yet her male peers didn’t hear that message and they did get promoted…

When a new boss started getting handsy with her, she was fed up and quit.

Thinking that this male-dominated field of engineering wasn’t right for her and having a knack for business, she decided to do an MBA. Through this degree she hoped to transition into a less male-dominated field. She threw herself into her studies and networked like crazy, which led to an offer from a large FMCG company.

“This is it,” she thought. “This place isn’t an old boys club. I will finally be assessed on my results, not my gender.”

Oh boy…

It turned out to be the same old, same old. Her male co-workers getting promoted ahead of her, despite them objectively speaking achieving lesser results, nor working as hard.

And she wasn’t the only woman who struggled. One female co-worker was explicitly told she would not be promoted because they feared she would get pregnant soon. Another was refused a pay raise, citing “she didn’t need it, as her partner was making enough.” She herself was told that she wouldn’t advance, because “we already have one woman in senior leadership, and that’s enough.”

Still her hard work didn’t matter; her gender did. Her results weren’t recognised; her sex was more important.

By the time we spoke, she was tired and disappointed that she couldn’t overcome these gender biases. That’s why she said that she wished she hadn’t spent her money on an MBA. It hadn’t in any way addressed the issues holding her back from a great career.

Her story has a good ending though! She did the WINning coaching program, where she learnt how she could overcome these biases comfortably and confidently. She learnt to own and then leverage her knowledge (including her MBA!), her experience, talents and skills. How she could get the right people to understand how amazing she already was and how much more she was capable of.

And, as always, the results followed swiftly: a double promotion and a sizeable salary increase! And something tells me she isn’t done yet

 

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