At the occasion of the International Women's Day (March 8), our ESSEC team had the opportunity to interview amazing female leaders who fought to break the glass ceiling, challenge themselves and explore an ocean of opportunities by pursuing an Executive MBA program at ESSEC.
Can you tell us about yourself in few lines?
Raquel NAVALON DE LA ROSA : I would say that I am a person who is always excited to start new projects whether it is in my personal or professional life, or engaging in a cause for society. This can sometimes set me on a difficult path, more than I expected initially. If I look back, I am happy to have pushed myself out of my comfort zone many times even if I realized that I have sometimes been too hard with myself and should have enjoyed a bit more the present moment.
What did you dream of doing when you were a little girl?
R.N.R : When I was a little girl, I didn’t particularly project myself in a specific profession though I was enthusiastic about learning languages, reading books and doing sports. As an anecdote, I did briefly dream about becoming an actress after I performed several representations at my school, especially the role of Cosette in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. I believe it helped me realize that I am really interested in understanding the complexity of the human character.
What do you do now?
R.N.R : Today, I am working as a Consulting Manager at CGI Business Consulting. I chose the Consulting field because I liked the opportunity to discover several companies, different activities and ways of working through different projects. I also appreciate the human aspect in this job because you always have to understand what motivates people in your team to work better and be more accomplished. I believe that caring for employees translates into better results and more identification with the company’s values: it is a win-win situation.
What does women’s day represent to you?
R.N.R : To me, Women’s Day is a very positive and joyful day! It reminds me all the progress that has been achieved in terms of women’s rights and the position of women in the workplace. We (men and women) need to continue promoting a positive vision of financially independent women, encouraging women to fulfill their potential. On the other hand, it also reminds me of all that remains to be done, especially in certain parts of the world…
Do you think there are challenges specific to women, while pursuing an EMBA?
R.N.R : Of course, there are challenges specific to women. First, I think it is essential to be well surrounded and supported. Doing an EMBA implies that less time will be available for housework. Choosing to do an EMBA means that a woman has the ambition to progress in her career. This could be felt as a threat by her partner both because there will be more workload at home and because there is a possibility that she will earn more money than him. This could be difficult to assume as it goes against the dominant image that we have of a couple.
Are there any advantages of being a woman, while pursuing an EMBA?
R.N.R : It is common knowledge that balancing a professional career and a family life is a challenging task. Within this EMBA, I found it very interesting to have the opportunity to meet other women who are equally ambitious and have managed to succeed in this regard.
Which powerful woman do you admire the most? Why?
R.N.R : I think that Sheryl Sandberg and Sophia Amoruso are sources of inspiration for very different reasons. Sheryl is a good example of success in the corporate world. She managed to get to the top of a world class company while having a balanced family life. It's a question of ambition and of competence of course. Sophia's profile is totally different, she is an entrepreneur who started a very profitable business. She is a person capable of taking risks, embracing them and venturing into an uncertain future. Today, I believe that Europe needs to create women role models to inspire new generations.
Do you think there is a stereotype attached to female leaders?
R.N.R : When thinking of a woman leader, I believe we always picture women politicians along the lines of Margaret Thatcher or Angela Merkel: tough, very unfeminine women. I am not convinced that qualities described as feminine, such as collaboration or the ability to listen, should be completely removed from our leadership style. I think it is important to point out that every woman leader has to be free to lead with her heart and her head regardless of which leadership style is more established in society.
What advice would you give women considering an EMBA program?
R.N.R : The first piece of advice I would give to a woman considering an EMBA is not to hesitate. Analyse why you want to do an EMBA and what it will bring to your future career. If you are sure that it is the best for you, talk to those around you about how you would manage the EMBA period. Everything has a solution. Above all, don't let anyone take away your enthusiasm and desire to do an EMBA.ESSEC feels like a second family!
On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to women thinking about their careers?
R.N.R : The most important message is dare to take risks, be ambitious, don't hesitate, move on and do your best. Every career stage is a learning experience whether it goes right or wrong, and this experience will be necessary to take you to the next level.
#CHALLENGING #DISCOVERY #EXCITING
From the International Women's day interview series, don't miss:
- Olga SEMENENKO, Entrepreneur, Consultant, Author, ESSEC Executive MBA Alumna, class of 2020
- Helene SOUILLAR, Business Lawyer, ESSEC & Mannheim Executive MBA Alumna, class of 2020
- Ania DIAZ ESPINOSA, Head of Logistics & Transport Domain, Information Systems, ESSEC Executive MBA Alumna, class of 2021
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