Top women executives have a significant decision to make when it comes to investing, not only in themselves, but in their potential career trajectory, such as when it comes to earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.
Although not a guarantee, recent statistics support the idea that among the ranks of CEOs and other executives who reach the C-Suite, women who have their MBAs stand a better chance of being promoted and reaching the highest echelons of executive management. Many factors are at work of course, but the profiles of the following women suggest that an MBA complements and enhances the natural aptitudes of leadership. Having an innate and intrinsic desire to succeed certainly helps (regardless of the industry), but the benefit of formal education within the auspices and framework of an MBA adds to the credibility of women who aspire to the title of CEO. Here are a few of the best:
Irene Rosenfeld - Kraft
Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld obtained her MBA and a doctoral degree in marketing and statistics from Cornell University. Rosenfeld has been involved in the food and beverage industry for about 30 years, originally joining General Foods in consumer research. Rosenfeld was appointed CEO of Kraft Foods in June 2006. Among her many accomplishments at Kraft foods, she led the restructuring and turnaround of business in the United States, Canada and Moscow. She was appointed to the additional post of chairman in March 2007, following Altria Group’s spin-off of Kraft. In 2008, she was placed sixth on The Wall Street Journal’s “50 Women to Watch” list. Forbes rated Rosenfeld second on the Top 10 Most Powerful Women in 2010 and 10th in 2011. In December 2011, Rosenfeld remained as chairman of the $31-billion global snacking company, which was called Mondelēz International, Inc.
Indra Nooyi – PepsiCo
Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, was born in India. There, Nooyi worked with Johnson & Johnson and Mettur Beardsell.
She moved to the United States to earn a master’s degree from Yale in 1980. Her resume from that point includes strategy positions at the Boston Consulting Group, Motorola and Asea Brown Boveri.
In 1994, she joined PepsiCo and was named president and CFO in 2001.
Since then, the company’s annual revenues have risen 72 percent, and in 2006, Nooyi became CEO of PepsiCo.
Sallie Krawcheck – Citibank
Citigroup’s Sallie Krawcheck earned an MBA from Columbia University. Krawcheck spent just over a year in her final role as CEO of Citigroup’s wealth management business, but only after serving in several financial management roles within the firm. Citigroup recruited her in 2002 to take over as CEO of the firm’s brokerage unit, Smith Barney. In 2004, she became Citigroup’s CFO. After three years as the top financial manager, she returned to brokerage as the CEO of Citigroup’s Global Wealth Management division. Prior to joining Citigroup, Krawcheck was an equity analyst and rose to CEO of Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., a Wall Street research firm. Forbes put Krawcheck at number seven on its list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women of 2005. In 2008, she was named to Investment Advisor magazine’s Investment Advisory 25, the list of the 25 most influential people in and around the investment advisory business. She was recognized by the World Economic Forum as one of its Young Global Leaders. She is a past recipient of CNBC’s Business Leader of the Future Award and has been credited by The Daily Beast as remaining one of the “rare honest voices on Wall Street.”
As is evidenced from the three examples above, these women CEOs each invested a significant amount of time within their respective industries before reaching the executive ranks. However, each also acquired an MBA to specialize and hone strategic skills that paid dividends in her personal career path.