Executive Degree Programmes: Celebrating Women's History Month


International Women's Day 2022


For International Women's Day, we asked Executive Degrees students and alumnae to share thoughts, stories, videos and photos striking the #BreakTheBias pose, to demonstrate their solidarity and commitment to gender equality. 

International Women's Day celebrates women's achievements and increases visibility, while calling out inequality: 'Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.'

Ijeoma Nwakuche, EMBA student


Ijeoma is a recipient of an Oxford Executive MBA Scholarship for Women in association with the 30% Club.

'All fingers are not equal in length, but all fingernails should be equally allowed to "Be," to live, to strive, and to thrive at their own pace.'

Felicity Tan, EMBA student


In response to this year's International Women's Day, Executive MBA student Felicity Tan writes of her experience that Asian women can be forgotten in the fight to break the glass ceiling, so representation of women needs to include a wide spectrum of nationalities.

'Women must not only have a seat at the table, they must have the power to use that seat. But which women? I would argue that empowered representation is a more useful frame than the optics of diversity. We must elevate a wide-enough spectrum of women and their unique experiences -- Black, Asian, Arab, Latina, and Indigenous alike.'


Rudina Suti, EMBA student


'Research has proven that a significant percentage of women are hardworking and women leaders tend to employ this type of characteristic which leads to great results in business. According to International Finance Corporation, 2017; women’s persistence has also been a great charm in the business world, for instance, in the marketing sector, getting to seal a deal needs persistence and perseverance; hence, more business thrives among women since they can simultaneously reach many customers and investors.'


Raluca Epureanu, EMBA student


'Everyone has some level of unconscious bias: to overcome this, we need to be more open to communication and re-examining our own habits. This is an invitation for action to both men and women. When men speak up alongside women, breaking gender bias becomes easier for everyone. On many occasions, I’ve found that those men who do address gender bias and inequality in the workplace are also evaluated favourably. Although stressful, uncomfortable, or confrontational at times, men and women need to act together to achieve societal change.'

Lilia Stoyanov, Diploma alumna


Lilia was a student in the Oxford Executive Diploma in Financial Strategy class of 2015.

'At the beginning of my career, people would say: 'Female directors make less than 1%. Choose a safe career path.' But I persevered, becoming CFO at 26 and GM and CFO a month before my 30th birthday. Then, people would say: ‘You are already a Director. Why on earth do you want to take risks and start a business?' Well, I left my corporate job, started a business and became an angel investor because that's what I wanted to achieve in life. I was never sorry for leaving my comfort zone, no matter how hard my entrepreneurial journey was at the beginning.'

'We can't choose our gender at birth but we can definitely choose to pursue our dreams.'

Linda Li, Diploma student


'I’ve often experienced biases in the past with people questioning why I study so much and why I am interested in typically male-dominated subjects such as AI. But I believe that if you want something, you should work for it and go for it. Don’t let the opinions of others hold you back – believe in yourself and have the confidence to pursue your passions. The Oxford Diplomas are great because of the part-time, flexible programme delivery, meaning you can learn at your own speed and depth around your wider life and work commitments. By studying the Diploma in AI for Business, I hope to inspire other peers, and women in particular, that you really can pursue your passions.'

Lisa Berthelot, Diploma student


‘I’ve long believed that the key to success is the combination of competence and confidence. One of the ways that I work on improving in both areas is by saying “yes” even if I feel out of my comfort zone. I lead missions to foreign countries where I don’t speak the language, I work in a scientifically complex field with a degree in politics, I applied to go back to school mid-career.'

‘I’m really looking forward to strengthening how I formulate, articulate and deliver ideas effectively. I think what the Diploma in Strategy and Innovation gives you are invaluable personal tools to develop as a female leader. And I celebrate that today, on International Women’s Day.

Rhana Kurdi, Diploma alumna


Rhana is a student in the Oxford Executive Diploma in Global Business class of 2021.

'As a female business leader, the Diploma in Global Business has given me confidence in myself and my abilities, as well as feeling comfortable enough to reach out to my network for help when I am struggling. I’ve built such great relationships and developed a lifelong network that I know I can rely on. I now feel like I have an entire team of men and women supporting me wherever I go and no matter what I do.'

'As a military veteran, I am used to working in a male-dominated profession. Joining the Diploma in Global Business programme really opened my eyes and connected me to some incredible businesswomen at the top of their fields around the world. I met a CFO leading the financial strategies at an amazing bank in Armenia who was balancing work, family life and her studies. Another lady was a Scientist from Lebanon living in Australia and supporting the country’s frontline response to the pandemic. And everyone wanted to help and share their experiences with each other. There was no ego at all. Seeing women represented like this and the chance to network with them was mind-blowing.'

Hiba Sanduqa, Diploma student


'I’m currently studying the Diploma in AI for Business and it’s an area where you would traditionally expect to come across less women as it’s a male-dominated field. But the fact it’s accredited and offers a seal of credibility and authentication is exactly why women should study it. The Diploma enables us to demonstrate our competency, stand out from the crowd and inspire others that they can do the same. I would go so far as to say that it is critical for any women who is passionate about AI, wants to affirm her position in her company, both from a technical and management perspective, and to excel in her field.'

'Being a woman in business is challenging because you’re not treated as equal. It takes you longer to rise through the hierarchy, so reaching the leadership stage in your career means you have been under greater pressure. Sometimes, it means you’ve had to put in double the effort and double the time. We shouldn’t need to have an International Women’s Day, as we should see women thriving and shining with their achievements 365 days a year. But we still have a journey ahead of us to facilitate women in the workplace, and having other agendas in their life to support. We need a system in business that supports that, and that in turn requires a change in mindset.'

Kristie Rogers, Diploma alumna


Kristie was a student in the Oxford Executive Diploma in Financial Strategy class of 2020.

'I have had instances in my career where I felt that a person’s bias viewed my kindness as a sign of weakness. I actively try (although I don’t always succeed) to not to be that closed-off, iron-clad person which people often expect from a leader. I believe in being flexible on the things which don’t matter but firm on the things which I feel strongly about. I value and try to practice empathy, fairness and compassion with my team, clients and partners on a daily basis. It is my experience that leading with empathy and compassion makes the basis of an exceptional leader. It inspires openness and trust within teams as they actively look to support each and flourish as a result of the safe space created.

'I think the Diploma in Financial Strategy has really benefitted me as a female business leader working in strategy as I’ve been able to spend more time with others already working in the finance industry – a capability which I believe to be a key aspect of great leadership. I think on both sides, it opened our minds to the different perspectives and experiences we had, and that exposure to diversity would go on to serve us well as we advanced our careers.'

Natalia Anjaparidze, Diploma alumna


Natalia was a student in the Oxford Executive Diploma in Global Business class of 2021.

'The Diploma in Global Business has supported me as a female leader as it has sharpened my strategic vision and given me the credibility and confidence to handle complex multifaceted challenges. It does this by giving you a much more holistic view of the contemporary world of business today, the geopolitical issues we are facing, as well as the practical tools you can apply in your organisation to navigate these successfully. Being able to tap into different businesses, sectors, and the experiences of your peers makes you feel like you lived your life more than once.

'For me, breaking the bias is about paving the way and demonstrating that you can really develop throughout your life and never stop. In today’s world, we recognise that meaning and purpose are universal, they aren’t tied to a specific role or passion, they go beyond everything you do. If I can inspire just a few women and girls to invest in their development, pursue their passion and find their purpose, then my mission is accomplished. My advice for other women is to simply "go for it."

'I firmly believe that every leader is an agent for change, and as one myself, I feel a lot of responsibility to ensure I represent the diverse voices. What the Diploma in Global Business has given me is a sense of purpose, an anchor for my values and the tools and ideas to be the change I want to see in the world.'

Joahna Kuiper, Diploma alumna


Joahna was a student in the Oxford Executive Diploma in Artificial Intelligence for Business class of 2021.

'I’ve been working in technology for a number of years and there have been many times where I have been the only woman in the room. It’s always been a bit of a challenge to gain a seat at the technical table. But at Oxford, we are all really well represented - and the class approaches each other as equals. The space enables you to develop the confidence by participating rather than jockeying for space. Yes, in a corporate setting, often it's your title that gives you a seat at the table, but the confidence developed and encouraged at Oxford enables you to make the most of the opportunity and interact just a little bit differently, as if the space you take isn't in question.'

Sujatha Yaramsetti, Diploma alumna


Sujatha was a student in the Oxford Executive Diploma in Strategy and Innovation class of 2020.

'I have witnessed a lot of poverty, struggle, and some level of discrimination in my early years of profession. I've seen and met women who want to study but are financially challenged or a little low on motivation. I wanted to inspire others by pursuing the Diploma in Strategy and Innovation. I wanted to demonstrate that it is possible to study at a world-class university such as Oxford, and this decision and journey is entirely up to the individual. You can and should invest in yourself, and it is never too late to start. Where there is a will there is a way and opportunities and options are always available for the right person. I want to help women in any way I can so they can access further education, benefit from the same experiences and professionally excel.

'It doesn’t matter where you come from; if you have the right attitude, you can do it and shine brighter! If I have done it then women from any background, age and any skill can do it.'

Women at Oxford Saïd

At the School, we are committed to supporting and developing women to increase their impact in business and, by extension, the world. 

The scholarships available for exceptional female applicants to our Executive MBA, Executive DiplomasMSc in Global Healthcare Leadership and MSc in Major Programme Management are also helping to achieving gender parity in the classroom and in the boardroom.