An MBA stand women in good stead

SINGAPORE - More women are taking up MBAs in Singapore, according to ranking data from Financial Times' Global MBA Ranking 2013.

They now make up 43 per cent and 35 per cent of the MBA cohorts at the two public universities in Singapore. This is up by 16 percentage points and 7 percentage points from last year.

Ms Tan Gek Khim, senior director at the Management Development Institute of Singapore, shares with My Paper on whether an MBA is necessary for working women.

Is it critical for women to arm themselves with this qualification to get ahead in their careers?

Although there is no guarantee, recent statistics support the idea that among the ranks of C-Level management, women who have MBAs stand a better chance of being promoted and reaching the highest echelons of executive management.

Having an MBA can dramatically impact women's pay and position within their industry and organisation.

Some key findings of a Forte Foundation Survey in the United States include:

  • Women with MBAs see pay gains of 55-65 per cent of their pre-MBA salary within five years of graduation.

  • Companies with female board directors - many have MBAs - experience, on average, a 53 per cent higher return on equity.

  • Eighty-five per cent of MBA graduates say their qualifications helped them to advance in their careers.

Is having an MBA the be-all-and-end-all for women who aspire to reach the top of their career?

It isn't. Many factors for one to reach the top are at work, including soft skill sets, teamwork and having the right opportunities or mentors.

But it is clear that an MBA complements and enhances the aptitude for leadership in women.

An MBA provides the hard business and management skills and formal education that strengthen the credibility of women.

Women from various backgrounds - such as accountancy, banking, logistics, health care and even architecture and engineering - can benefit from an MBA as this adds to the plethora of skill sets required for today's complex top-management roles.

How long does it take for one to reap returns from doing an MBA?

Studies in the United States have indicated that the average amount of time needed to fully recoup returns on investment for an MBA is typically only four years.

So getting a well-recognised MBA puts women on the path towards a better life and career.

Outside of one's career, what does an MBA do to one's life?

Pursuing an MBA is like going on a journey of lifelong enhancement - it is an investment that women make for themselves.

Not only is the MBA personally rewarding in terms of acquisition or enhancement of skills and knowledge, but it is also about sharpening business acumen, decision-making and networking, where the MBA alumni can help build lasting relationships with other business leaders.

The skills and knowledge gained from an MBA are portable and extremely marketable - and they serve you a lifetime.

Most important of all, it gives women credibility and confidence to take up top positions in the corporate world.

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