The purpose of this paper is to report a qualitative study with British women managers, which explored the career competencies accrued from undertaking an Executive MBA (EMBA).
The research drew on in‐depth interviews with a sample of 18 female alumni from three British business schools. Data were analyzed using NVivo 8.0. within the career‐competencies framework of Knowing‐how, Knowing‐why and Knowing‐whom.
Women aged between 30 and 34 years emphasized the importance of gaining confidence (Knowing‐why) and skills (Knowing‐how) while those aged between 35 and 45 years focused on developing networks (Knowing‐whom). This study suggests that age and career stage may have considerable impact on perceptions of acquired career competencies.
This is an exploratory piece with limited generalisability; however, it exposes the need to clarify the concept of career stage for women.
Business schools have historically stressed the career benefits of MBA programmes in terms of improved capital and of changing career directions. This research indicates that an EMBA may offer a more level playing field for women with respect to networking activities. In the competitive global environment, business schools may benefit from more fully exploring career competencies, such as networking skills, for increasing the appeal of EMBA programmes. The paper also draws attention to the need for HR managers to increase efforts for improving women's career competencies.
Findings extend previous research on the development of career competencies from an EMBA, indicating the importance of developing networks, particularly at mid‐career. The paper highlights the need to redefine women's mid‐career stage.
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