When she felt like her career was hitting a glass ceiling, Rizlene decided she wanted to pursue ESCP’s MBA in International Management. This decision, however, was harder to take for her than for most. Rizlene, in addition to being an ambitious woman, is also the mother of a little girl. For her, the real challenge was to be able to balance motherhood with her MBA programme, especially once she started studying in London while her child remained in France. Luckily, Rizlene’s journey has proved to be one of many teachings, from developing outstanding organisation skills, to embracing her ambitions while turning her natural maternal instinct into a real asset.
In this interview, she shares her advice for other mothers considering an MBA programme and how to balance school, life, and a family. Rizlene’s story is one of determination and perseverance, proving that with the right mindset and support system, anything is possible.
Hello Rizlene, first of all, can you tell us why you decided to pursue an MBA?
Rizlene Grenot, MBA student: After a decade in the banking and insurance industries, I felt like I was ready for a new challenge. I had hit a ceiling in my career and knew that to break through it, I needed an MBA to equip me with the knowledge and skills sought after by recruiters. I had already earned a Master’s in Business Administration back in 2011, but the world had significantly changed in the past 10 years and I wanted to refresh my knowledge, expand my network, and learn new techniques.
I also wanted to set a positive example for my two-year-old daughter, Kamila. I wanted to show her that with determination and perseverance, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. For years, I had been wanting to further my education, but life got in the way – I got married, bought a house, and had a baby. But after a few years of balancing family life, I decided it was time to focus on myself and go back to school to finally advance my career.
What three words would you say best describe your experience as a mom pursuing an MBA at ESCP?
The first word I’d use to describe my experience being a mom while pursuing my MBA would be COURAGE. Few people understand the decision to return to school as an adult when you already have a stable professional situation, let alone as a mom of a toddler. I faced comments and heated discussions with relatives and some managers who didn’t understand my need and desire for a new challenge. But I pushed through, knowing that this is what I wanted for myself and my daughter.
Another word I’d use is ORGANISATION. Being a mom has given me a unique advantage in my studies. The skills of organisation and time management I’ve developed as a mother have been invaluable in managing my responsibilities and appointments. My colleagues are often amazed by how much I can accomplish in such a short amount of time!
Lastly, I’d use the word SUPPORT. Without the support of ESCP and my family, I never would have taken the risk of being away from my child. There were times when I had to leave class early to attend to my daughter, and I always received understanding and support from the educational team. For that, I am deeply grateful.
How do you juggle being a mom with your MBA course load, as well as extracurricular activities and family obligations?
While I am studying the first semester of my MBA in International Management at ESCP in London, my daughter stays with her dad and her grandmother in Paris. Their well-being is a top priority for me, so I make sure to visit France at least once a month for some quality family time. I call my daughter every day and show her everything I’m doing, so she can better understand my absence. But, let’s be real, sometimes it feels like I need to be in two places at once. If anyone has figured out the magic recipe, please share! In those moments, I’ve had to accept that it’s okay to let go and delegate.
What did you learn through your experience of having children while in an MBA programme?
Juggling my MBA course load with family obligations has been the most challenging part of the journey, but also the most rewarding one. I’ve come to realise that managing multiple responsibilities is all part of my MBA training. I’ve learned to prioritise events and manage my time effectively. My MBA results may not always be up to my expectations, but I’ve learned to be resilient. I give it my all every day, so I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I’ve also discovered that I have a strong maternal instinct and can’t leave anyone in trouble if I know I can help them. I want to help my classmates in any way I can and I don’t hesitate to share my notes or any information with them.
How did your peers and others in the ESCP support you during the MBA?
The MBA education team and my classmates have provided me with immense support throughout my journey. They are here to comfort me when I miss my daughter, we had never been separated before! After learning that I had a child (many of them were amazed!), my colleagues kept offering help and encouragement. They were always there with kind words and reminded me why I was doing all this.
The school also went above and beyond to support me in a concrete way. When I asked to follow the last courses of the semester online because my daughter was missing me a lot after all these months apart, the school accepted my request, and I am extremely grateful to them. The MBA team is very understanding.
What advice would you give to MBA Moms about balancing school, life, and a family?
Being a mom is hard enough, but the sacrifices we make for the well-being of our children are often even harder. It is true that it takes a village to raise a kid. My advice would be to take the leap, your children will understand the value of your determination later. Most importantly, don’t listen to what people say. Organise yourself and make this sacrifice with your family’s best interest at heart. What are ten months in a lifetime?
After graduation, I plan to use my expertise in consulting to become a Strategy Consultant. And with the support of the school’s career office, alumni mentorship programme, and individual coaches, I know I’ll have everything I need to succeed.
No matter your familial situation, ESCP’s highly flexible MBA can help you take your career to new heights. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Career Advisors or MBA Ambassadors for more information.
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