Step-up to Move Up: Five Key Ways for Women to Pave the Way to an EMBA

Womens Day
In light of International Women’s Day (IWD) 2020, we are celebrating 25 years of supporting female managers in realizing their EMBA dreams. Our team has arranged for on-site childcare during Open Days, provides advice on internal negotiations throughout the recruitment process and awards scholarships to top female candidates. We have an established mentoring program where we match female students with the ideal alumna to offer strategic advice and open career doors.

With the exception of our latest intake, RoBe EMBA classes have had an average of one-quarter women over the past five years. This closely reflects the proportion of women in managerial positions in Switzerland. However, like many Swiss companies, we are still striving to achieve gender equality.  How can we collectively ensure that more women join our classes in the future? We asked our recruiting team to outline five key steps women can take to boost female participation in EMBA classes – and thereby increase share-of-voice at management tables and boardrooms across Switzerland.


1. Prioritize your own development

Your busy management career, family life and hobbies may make embarking on an Executive MBA seem impossible at first. How will you juggle the additional challenge? The tendency for many women candidates is to delay their studies until a large project is complete, their husbands travel less or the children are older. They are waiting for the perfect time. This is a mistake! There is no ideal moment to embark on your EMBA adventure. It is up to you to create that moment. Once you have found the right program for you, go for it! This is a stepping-stone for your career, which benefits you, your family and your employer.

2. Embrace quantitative topics – even if they are outside of your comfort zone

For some female candidates, the idea of a quantitatively focused EMBA is daunting at first. They would rather polish their “soft skills” than learn accounting, finance, economics, statistics and valuation. Once our students complete these courses, they appreciate having the confidence and knowledge to discuss financial matters at eye-level with their CFOs. They have become stronger at budgeting, forecasting, analyzing data and negotiating. Acquiring these skills helps to position you for senior management and board member positions. Stretch out of your comfort zone to change the way you think and gain a stronger voice.

3. Create a career development plan that includes your EMBA

Work with your line manager to build EMBA studies into your career plan. Together with your boss, identify development opportunities within the company and how an EMBA would support you in taking on this new role. Discuss the timing, benefits and program cost with your boss. Clarify which steps to take internally to receive support from senior management and HR. If your company will not support you in pursuing the whole EMBA at once, get your foot in the door by presenting modular options like a Diploma of Advanced Studies (DAS) or Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) first that allow you to work up to an EMBA over time.

4. Build a strong support network at home

Design a plan at home to organize your time and finances. Consider when is the most effective time of day for individual study and group work. If you have a partner, make sure he or she understands the commitment of an EMBA and the support that you will need. Discuss your finances together and create a savings plan. Where children are involved, reach out to grandparents, nannies, neighbours and friends to step in and help. Once you have organized everything, there is no way to go but forward!

5. Recommend and support other women

This may seem obvious, but we often hear from female candidates that they are being “blocked” from pursuing an EMBA by their boss – who is also a woman. Rather than holding promising female managers back, encourage them to take the next steps in their careers. Put their names forward for a promotion and for EMBA support. Rock the boat! If you are one of our alumni, recommend our program to the most promising women in your company and beyond. To achieve gender equality, it will take a collective effort.