Most of the issues facing Wharton EMBA students are the same for both men and women. Those specific to women were discussed during our recent Women’s Webinar with alumna Caroline Wyspianski, WG’14, vice president of Glenmede Trust Co., and current second-year student Christine Johnson, global digital marketing leader at DuPont.
Here’s an edited transcript of the webinar:
How did you line up support from your employer and significant others?
Christine – I appreciate how the program made getting that support part of the application process. It was helpful to have everything lined up with my employer and spouse beforehand. My employer and spouse are both extremely supportive.
Caroline – It’s important to start early in the process with your employer. Make sure you have a solid, well thought out argument for why Wharton will be mutually beneficial to the employer and you. My employer benefitted a lot from my classroom learning, and I incorporated work issues into classroom projects. Having Wharton faculty, who are top experts in the world, guide you through a work issue is a huge benefit.
Caroline – How did you manage having a baby in the program?
Caroline – My baby was born about seven months into the program. My advice for anyone having kids in the program is to talk to somebody who has done this before you. I spoke with a woman in the class a year ahead of me. She said it is possible. And it is possible, but it takes some planning. You need to tell your learning team in advance and make sure to be more involved before the baby is born. It is a lot to juggle and sleep is impacted with a baby. So you need a plan and to use your resources and time wisely.
There are fewer women in the program. How does this impact your experience?
Christine – You go into the program knowing the statistic and women seek each other out. I made it a priority to get to know my learning team very well; there were two other women on my team. Having that strong bond helped me branch out more as I became comfortable. And as the program goes along, there are more women networking opportunities. I can always look around and see other women juggling the same challenges, so I feel well supported.
Caroline- Women formed a tight knit group in my class. We had a female group in our class and we have reunions.
Are there advantages to being Wharton women?
Caroline – Yes, being a woman in this program is like being in a smaller club. It’s typically a time when women have children and are juggling a lot at home. If you’re willing and able to go through that and this program –and you can come out on the other end to tell the story, it will make you a stronger person. It’s proof to anyone that you are able to achieve a lot and rise to the occasion.
Christine – One of my reasons for choosing the EMBA format was because if I can handle this, then I can handle anything. And being a woman has given me opportunities to bond with women members of other classes too.
How do you balance everything?
Christine – Be realistic about what you have to get done. You’re all very busy and will continue to be so you need to be organized and honest about what you can and cannot do.
Caroline – Prioritization is key and you will become extremely good at it although it requires practice. You’ll learn over time what is important and let things go that aren’t important.
How has your Wharton education impacted your career?
Caroline – My reason for coming here wasn’t to change careers, but to propel myself in the finance world. I used career services at Wharton to search for a job toward the end of the program. I ended up at Glenmede Trust Co., which is one of the best companies in my field. I feel Wharton is the reason that I could achieve my role at the company I wanted to be in.
How did you know it was the right time to get an MBA?
Caroline – There is no perfect time. You’ll always find an excuse not to do it, like waiting until after you have children. But it won’t get any easier. Having a 2-year-old isn’t easier than having a newborn, and having a 6-year-old is even less easy. Run don’t walk to start this program.
Christine – I wish I had started earlier. I decided that I’ll be busy for the next two years so I might as well get my MBA. Every semester that passes, I’m so glad that I started. Give yourself as long a runway as possible to take advantage of your degree.