January 2006

MBA Moms Make a Difference
by Vicki Salemi

Women are making big leaps in the traditional college arena — a recent report reveals that females comprise 57 percent of all undergraduate college enrollments. So why do women still only make up 30 percent of MBA classes? Is the time sacrifice insurmountable? What about the cost? And is it worth the sacrifices?

Many women, specifically mothers, are concerned that business careers will not be philosophically rewarding. The world of business for prospective “momtrepreneurs” can be daunting; the world of business school can seem even scarier as certain moms realize the challenges that exist and face them head on.

Stacy Blackman knows this situation all too well. As a marketing expert and founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, which provides services to applicants seeking admission to top MBA programs, she is quick to acknowledge the challenges of going back to school while juggling responsibilities at home. But she says the sacrifices are less daunting now thanks to alternative academia like eLearning. More importantly, she says, they are well worth it.

The Wharton MBA grad explains, “For moms who are reentering the workforce after several years at home, an MBA can be a perfect launching pad. The credential can add credibility, and the curriculum, network, and career services office are invaluable tools.”

Stacy has been able to leverage such talent by hiring MBA moms who demonstrate knowledge, passion and expertise, and then allowing them to design their own schedules.

“While jobs and companies come and go, the MBA degree provides a network, education and credential that remains with you. The ability to draw on these tools at any point in your career — whether searching for a job with a larger company or embarking on your own venture — is extremely valuable and provides great peace of mind.”

Courtney Pugh is one student fostering this peace of mind, having completed the eMBA program at The College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, Va.).

In fact, the program proved to be a far greater learning experience than she had anticipated, she explains. “It taught me more than simply how to calculate present value and return on investment. It taught me much more about myself.”

Among the rewards? By earning her advanced degree in general studies, Courtney noticed an increased sense of self-confidence, a rejuvenated sense of strength in her abilities, and renewed commitment to persevere and complete the curriculum.

After all, the 20-month intense program meant this director of procurement for a government contractor attended class every weekend on campus, including various residencies, one of which included a trip to China for 11 days to learn about international business.

“This program appealed to me as a mother because it would allow me to finish before my children were in school themselves,” Courtney explains. By starting the program with them so young (her daughter was 13 months old and son, 4 1/2), her hope was that they would not remember it as much in their later years. “I wanted them to have me around more for soccer practices, school plays and homework help,” she explains.

While it wasn’t easy — her commitment required that she get up daily at 5AM to master her organizational skills and “to-do” lists — she highly recommends the MBA program for other moms. (In fact, this go-getter still had time to work out six days per week, a practice she assures other academe moms is a good diversion from the books!)

As an aspiring entrepreneur, Courtney knew something was missing in her educational repertoire despite an undergraduate degree in psychology and a postgraduate certification in contracts and procurement. “I still felt I was lacking the business knowledge required to be successful in the corporate world, and to start my own business.”

The secret to her success? Without hesitation, Courtney describes a strong support system. “Words cannot express the debt of gratitude I owe my family. I know that I could never have accomplished this goal without their love and encouragement,” she confesses.