As we join the world in marking International Women’s Day 2023, we meet our Gender Equality SIG leaders and ask them what being part of the wider community of Cambridge Judge women means to them.
Why did you feel an MBA was part of your career plan?
Maddy, “After working at venture-backed startups in Silicon Valley for three years and then going to law school, I saw tremendous potential for collaboration between business and legal teams. I realised that combining my legal skills with the ability to understand businesses holistically would be invaluable.
During law school, I worked at Loon, a company that put cell networks in high-altitude balloons, providing internet access to remote communities around the world. I also worked at Gunderson Dettmer, a leading Silicon Valley law firm specialising in global venture capital financings. Through these experiences, I learned that the best lawyers understand both the law and business, which is why I decided to earn an MBA.”
Why did you choose Cambridge Judge Business School to pursue your Masters of Finance?
Apurva, “Cambridge Judge is known for its academic excellence and research capabilities. The Master of Finance program is designed in a way that it is the correct combination of theoretical and practical applications of the field of finance. Moreover, the Business School has a strong alumni base and a high variety of student clubs that offers me a platform to network and connect with the right people in the industry. Additionally, I love the diversity at CJBS, as it is interesting to know and learn about the varied cultures and practices followed worldwide.”
Has gender equality always played a large role in your life?
Dominique, “Simply put: yes. Growing up I was the middle child, sandwiched between an older brother and younger sister. When I was younger my mom supported all of us equally, instilling in all of us a true belief that women can achieve anything a man can achieve. I became passionate about supporting women, and during undergrad I led the Women in Business Club. While working I volunteered at organisations fighting for equity, and I spoke at conferences to inspire young female students. Today I’m very proud to lead the CJBS Gender Equality Group, alongside two brilliant women, Maddy and Apurva.”
Dominique Buchanan, MBA Class of 2022
Why did you decide to lead the Gender Equality Special Interest Group (SIG)?
“I’ve been involved in gender equality initiatives in my professional and academic life for the last ten years, so, leading this SIG was a natural continuation of that work. Specifically, from founding multiple mentorship programs in law school, I’ve seen firsthand the game-changing impact that mentors can have on students. So, I was really excited to partner with Cambridge Women in Business (CAMWIB), building a program for MBAs to mentor CAMWIB members. Cambridge MBAs are currently mentoring 60 CAMWIB members, and I hope that the programme continues into the future!,” says Maddy.
How has your involvement with the Gender Equality Special Interest Group added to your Cambridge experience overall?
Apurva, “Being part of the Gender Equality Special Interest Group, I have had the opportunity to interact and work with like-minded people who are equally passionate about gender fairness and equality. Leading this SIG has also contributed towards my self-development by instilling in me organisational and communication skills. Overall, getting involved with this SIG has positively added to my Cambridge experience as it has been a rewarding and an enriching experience, helping me with personal growth, learning, and social engagement.”
What do you think the future holds for the Gender Equality SIG?
“I’m very happy that gender equality is becoming a more regular discourse in the business community. We’re not there yet: we still need to see greater representation in senior positions, boards, pay, and in certain countries. However, we are making progress. I believe over the next few years the conversation will move towards allyship. This isn’t a fight for one gender. We need to make sure there is buy in on all sides. We’ve seen great involvement across all genders in our group, and I’m hopeful that continues. I think the future will hold more open conversations across genders, and in turn gender parity considerations will become inherent in the decision making of our future leaders,” Dominique.
What Gender Equality SIG plans have you got for the MBA year ahead?
Maddy, “We just held a speed networking event across all the programmes at Cambridge Judge, and that was a huge success! We may very well do another one. Additionally, we are in the process of planning a fireside chat with an early-stage Fintech start-up founded by two women. I’m particularly excited about this event because it will bring many types of people together – those interested in finance, tech, and of course, gender equality.”
Will you take this experience forward into your future career?
“Definitely Yes! I would love to take this experience forward and continue to work towards advocating for gender equality. I strongly feel that there is a lot of work still left to do before we attain an ideal scenario where there are no gender biases. Additionally, it’s also important to recognise that gender equality is interconnected with other forms of social justice, such as race and class. Working towards intersectional approaches that recognise and address these intersecting inequalities can help to create more inclusive and effective solutions for promoting gender equality,” Apurva.
What do you want future applicants to know?
Dominique, “I’ve attended many business conferences over the years, many of which are focused on reaching gender parity in the workplace. To this day, there is a distinct moment I remember that changed the way I looked at the world. During a speech, someone mentioned that men will apply for jobs when they have 60% of the qualifications, but women will only apply if they have 100%. I realised that opportunity is what you make of it. For any applicants about to embark on what will surely be a stressful, yet thrilling endeavour: take the risk. Don’t be a barrier for yourself. We need leaders who are willing to take risks to accomplish something amazing. Do the same for yourself! If I could give one piece of advice it would be this: take advantage of every opportunity you can, be confident in your abilities, and don’t be afraid of failure.”
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