How this MBA grad empowers women in leadership roles through mentorship

While the proportion of women in leadership roles is growing, the number of women managers and leaders is still low across the globe. Vuyiswa M’Cwabeni, an MBA graduate from WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, wants to empower women leaders. As a mentor in the Initiative Women into Leadership (IWiL), a non-profit organization aimed at supporting women in leadership roles, Vuyiswa describes her own journey to becoming a leader and how WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management embeds leadership into its MBA curriculum.

In short

What is the Initiative Women into Leadership (IWiL)?

While the proportion of women in leadership roles is growing, the number of women managers and leaders is still low across the globe. In India in 2019, for example, only 2% of CEOs were women. The same research found that only one out of three managers in the EU is a woman.

The Initiative Women into Leadership (IWiL) is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and empowering women in leadership roles. The initiative is built on the concept of a Cross-Mentoring-Program (CMP), which facilitates a broad exchange of experiences and personalities between women, going beyond corporate boundaries.

As one of its program mentors, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management MBA graduate Vuyiswa M’Cwabeni feels humbled to be a part of this important initiative. 

“I have been lucky in several important stages of my career that I had women and men that helped me,” she says. “I feel as a leader [and] as a person, it’s important to give back.” (03:21)

The first step in becoming a leader: Education

Education was always a natural step in Vuyiswa’s journey to becoming a leader.

“The reality is, I want to be a leader that’s driving the digital transformation here in Germany and then making anything possible that can come with technology,” she says. (01:06)

With a degree from Germany’s #1 ranked MBA program in 2021, Vuyiswa was successfully equipped to build a career in technology and innovation, taking on executive leadership roles at companies like SAP and Wirecard.

Nearly 40% of Fortune 500 CEOs have an MBA under their belt, including Apple CEO Tim Cook (Fuqua School of Business at Duke University), Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (The University of Chicago Booth School of Business), and General Motors CEO Mary Barra (Stanford Graduate School of Business).

What does leadership mean?

For Vuyiswa, leadership means three things.

First, it’s the ability to set a clear vision, as well as “being able to set that vision…[and] bring people along.” (02:09)

Second, “leadership is actually being your authentic self and bringing yourself to that,” Vuyiswa says. “How do you then motivate people – motivate them to do things that they never thought possible, motivate them to do things that they might not want or feel comfortable with, but motivate them to really live up to their full potential?” (02:19)

Third, leadership is all about listening. “I think a lot of times we lead, but you need other people and you have to be able to listen to them, hear them, and then support them moving forward,” Vuyiswa explains.” (02:42)

MBA programs at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management emphasize responsible and effective leadership. A defining factor of their curricula is the opportunity for students to practice their management skills and sharpen their leadership skills.

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