Empowering Women Leaders with the ESSEC & Mannheim Executive MBA


Women leaders from advertising, beauty, engineering, and entrepreneurship share how the ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA program has empowered them in their careers.

Madina Kalyayeva, Elena Hyeseon Jeong, Lenny Christina, and Carisa Mann could not appear to be more different. Madina spent over a decade in advertising, working in companies all the way from the Middle East to Singapore, while Elena dedicated her career to the beauty sector. Lenny’s interests lie in engineering, and Carisa started three of her own companies: Place Solutions, Magnetite Singapore and Growth Squad Consulting.

Despite the diversity of their nationalities and career pathways, what these women have in common is that they are leaders in their respective fields. They each have a relentless desire to grow, better their companies, and make their mark in their sectors of choice.

They share how the ESSEC & Mannheim Executive MBA (EMBA) program has supported them in their journeys.

Adding Business Credibility 

The first way is simply because the EMBA is a testament to one’s credibility. Elena adds that this is particularly helpful in countries with degree inflation and “without a master’s degree or MBA, getting a good long-term promotion is hard.” 

Part of this is because of the program’s focus on business classes like finance, corporate strategy, marketing, and more. For those from a business background, the EMBA is a chance to update their knowledge of the latest trends. On the other hand, those without prior business training benefit from an understanding of how different facets of the organization function. This is valuable knowledge for leaders, which Elena, who was trained in the Fine Arts, has found to be directly applicable to her role as Store Design & Visual Merchandising Director at The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.

Offering International Exposure 

Worth noting is also that the EMBA program held at the ESSEC Asia-Pacific campus is tailored to empower participants for international roles. 

This is done in two main ways: The first is by structuring classes to provide an understanding of Asia's unique economic and business landscapes. Hence, participants are well-equipped to tackle the challenges of growing economic power. Second is through overseas residences that add an international dimension to learning.

The global perspective is also amplified by the diverse EMBA cohort, which has participants hailing not just from different sectors but also countries. As much of the EMBA involves peer-to-peer learning, studying in a multicultural environment is an avenue for participants to learn how people from different countries think and to practice navigating the cultural nuances that they, too, will experience in the real world.

For those like Lenny, who, as a project manager at Infineon Technologies, works with teams both in Asia and Europe, the benefits were immediately visible: “The program has enhanced my perspective to flexibly work with my multicultural team and negotiate with Asia-based suppliers or subcontractors,” she says.

Refining Leadership Potential

Another benefit of being part of a diverse EMBA cohort is that “you’ll be able to see changes in yourself—in terms of confidence in decision-making and flexibility to deal with people,” Lenny declares.

Carisa explains that this is because each participant isn’t just of a different background but also a seasoned professional with decades of experience and achievements. Yet, “in the classroom, everyone is equal.”

“It was interesting to see my strengths and weaknesses in a setting with such strong equals,” she muses, crediting the discussions and group work for teaching her volumes about negotiation and people management, all of which she uses running her companies today.

Turning Dreams into Reality

Most importantly, perhaps, is simply that the EMBA doesn’t just equip one with skills. It inspires people to make a change.

Carisa, for example, chose to start her first business because of a conversation during her EMBA interview. She was asked about the type of company she would start and landed on the idea of green building materials. By the time the EMBA started, she had left her corporate job and was ready to leverage the lessons learned during the program to build Place Solutions.

For Lenny, it was being able to connect the technical, engineering aspects of her role with the “business side” that gave her confidence to transition to become a project manager. 

And for Madina, Managing Director of M&C Saatchi Singapore, it was the program-long group project on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability (IES) that helped her turn her passion for digital fashion innovation and sustainability into an executable mission.

Ultimately, this is the power of an EMBA program with ESSEC: It removes limitations that prevent you from achieving your potential. As Madina aptly puts it:  “A good program should remove mental barriers by helping participants understand that if ceilings do not exist, then there will be nothing they need to ‘break.’” In hers, Lenny’s, Elena’s, and Carisa’s experience, the ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA no doubt deliver.

The ESSEC & Mannheim EMBA program is committed to helping women achieve their leadership potential.

Find out about the Women Leaders Scholarship and how it can help you achieve your career goals. 

Interested in the ESSEC & Mannheim Executive MBA Asia-Pacific program?
Find out more HERE or email us at

Help Me Choose a program