International Women's Day 2023

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Happy International Women’s Day! Today we join together to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements across the globe for women so far. At Imperial College London, we aim to build a community of strong women.  

To celebrate and recognise this day, we are shining a light on a few of our inspirational students at Imperial College Business School. In this blog, they share what this day means to them and how the Business School helps them feel empowered as women. We also learned who their women role models are, and we join them to celebrate some of their biggest achievements to date. 

Felicity Box

Felicity Box, Full-Time MBA 

This year, 73 students joined us from across the world for our Full-Time MBA programme; 42% are women.  

What does International Women’s Day mean to you and how are you celebrating this day?  

International Women’s Day is for me a chance to champion female voices and women’s contribution to all areas of life and culture. I like to celebrate by crowdsourcing a list of amazing female-led podcasts, documentaries, films, books, music and business initiatives from friends and colleagues, and sending the list out to everyone I know. I always discover amazing new women who are changing the world in ways big and small and I love being able to share these too.   

Oh and I listen to Flo and Joan’s comedy song “Lady Crisps” on repeat.  

How does Imperial College Business School make you feel empowered?  

I’m honoured to be President of the Dean’s Student Advisory Council this year. Holding this position means that I get to be visible as a female leader every day, working with an incredible council of diverse and talented students to help ensure that all voices are heard and amplified where necessary. Every day is a learning day, but I feel empowered to push myself, to learn from my peers and my mistakes and to be held to account in a safe and

Felicity Box book group

Who are your female role models and why? What is your proudest achievement?    

This is my book club pictured above. They are simultaneously my most trusted female role models and my proudest achievement. I started this book club when I moved to London, as a monthly meet up for friends and friends of friends who were new to the city and didn’t yet have a support network around them. Over the past 5 years we have become the best of friends and each other’s biggest champions, and they impress and inspire me every day.   
We support each other through personal and professional highs and lows. These wonderful women are the cheerleaders you need to guide you through break-ups and house moves. The ones who help you stand up to your awful boss and turn tears of frustration into tears of laughter. They are the first to call for a celebration when one of us does something amazing and were all there for each other online or socially distanced throughout lockdown. 

They have taught so much over the years, always encouraging me to do and be better for others and for myself. I am so proud of and grateful for every single one of these women, and of having been able to bring us all together. I don’t know what I would do without them. I certainly wouldn’t have made it through the MBA application process, let alone the first 6 months of the programme.   

What is a quote that you live by or a piece of advice you’d pass to another woman? 

“There is always room for one more seat at the table.” -  If you focus on creating more opportunities rather than competing for the same ones, you will make the office, and the world, a better place for you and the women around you.  

Sejal Vijay

Sejal Vijay, MSc Finance & Accounting 

This year, the Business School welcomed 182 students to our MSc Finance and Accounting programme with 51% being women.   

What does International Women’s Day mean to you and how are you celebrating this day? 

International Women's Day is a significant and meaningful day for me as a woman. This day serves as a reminder of all the women who have advocated for equality and made it possible for me to enjoy greater chances and freedoms than prior eras. It is a day to honour the significant contributions that women have made to society and to acknowledge the success of women in a variety of fields, including politics, academia, business, and the arts.  

I would like to honour all the women who have made important and unsung contributions to my life on this International Women's Day. They equipped me with the opportunities and motivation I lacked to pursue my goals and aspirations and to have belief in my ability to change the world. 

 What’s your biggest achievement to date? 

My biggest achievement to date was the moment I received my acceptance letter from Imperial College Business School. As Imperial College is the sixth best university in the world (QS World University Rankings 2023), I knew that the competition was fierce, and the admission process would be challenging. However, with hard work and perseverance, I was able to overcome the hurdles and secure my spot at this prestigious institution. The fact that I received a 100% scholarship (Rajeev Gandhi Scholarship for Academic Excellence) added to the sense of accomplishment and made the achievement even more meaningful. Looking back on that moment, I still feel a sense of disbelief and gratitude. It was a dream come true, and it was a testament to the power of dedication and determination. 

How does Imperial College Business School make you feel empowered? 

Imperial College London is dedicated to supporting gender equality and strengthening women in a variety of ways. The university offers a wide range of programmes and initiatives designed to assist women in achieving their academic and professional goals. For instance, Imperial College Business School has a Women in Business Club that offers female students a place to network, share experiences, and progress in their careers. The club organises activities, seminars, and mentoring schemes to foster female equality and inclusion in the business world. Imperial College constantly seeks out and supports female researchers and faculty members who act as mentors and role models for young folks. 

What is a quote that you live by or a piece of advice you’d pass to another woman? 

Marilyn Monroe's famous statement that "Well-behaved women seldom make history" is a strong assertion that challenges the traditional view of how women should behave in society. The quote encourages women to be fearless, take chances, and leave their mark on the world. It inspires women to question conventional gender roles and expectations and to tenaciously follow their ambitions.  

Who are your female role models and why? 

In Hinduism, we believe that every soul lives seven lives and gets reincarnated again and again until they reach enlightenment. I want my mother to be with me in every single one of them. My mum is my greatest role model in every sense of the world, personal, professional, physical, and emotional. She is an incredible source of inspiration for me, and I look up to her for guidance and support. Her unwavering strength, resilience, and compassion have been the driving force behind my own personal and professional development, and I am grateful for her influence every single day. I hope to continue to learn from her and impersonate her best qualities for the rest of my life.  

Sejal Vijay Mum
Hermine Fanyan

Hermine Fanyan, MSc Finance & Accounting 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you and how are you celebrating this day?  

I grew up in a country, where International Women’s Day is celebrated with great festivity, therefore March 8th is a special day for me. In fact, Armenia also commemorates Motherhood and Beauty Day on the 7th of April, which extends the celebration of women to a whole month. International Women's Day not only acknowledges the past achievements of women but also empowers us to strive for our goals despite any obstacles we may face. However, often the meaning of this day is confused and simply viewed as a celebration of the mere existence of women in men's lives, rather than acknowledging their accomplishments in professional fields and recognising their significant role in science. My ultimate hope is for the world to attain such equality that Women's Day would no longer be necessary, and every individual would have equal rights and opportunities regardless of gender.  

What’s your biggest achievement? 

One of my notable achievements is founding an organisation that supports students studying abroad and contributes to the advancement of education quality in Armenia. Recently what made me feel proud was conquering my fear of heights during a challenging mountain hike that reached an altitude of 4070m. 

Who are your female role models and why? 

I am inspired by those who have the courage to embrace themselves, persevere in pursuit of their goals despite opposition or obstacles, and are willing to stand up and fight against injustice instead of being indifferent to it. Joan of Arc and Mother Teresa are historical figures whom I greatly admire. The first exemplifies the courage, bravery, and fearlessness we need as leaders and the second demonstrates how love and kindness have the power to change the world. Furthermore, Alenush Terian, an exceptional astronomer and physicist, fosters motivation within us to cultivate a passion for science and technology. 

mIn daily life, my mother is a true inspiration showing great power in overcoming obstacles and teaching us to dance in the rain.  

How does Imperial College Business School make you feel empowered? 

To succeed in a world full of asymmetric information, having knowledge and intelligence is a key to empowerment. Imperial College Business School provides a supportive environment for us women to thrive in our careers, implements leadership and mentorship programmes as well as challenges us to achieve our full potential. Moreover, workshops and panel discussions such as Women in Business, Finance, and Entrepreneurship offer valuable opportunities for us to learn and get inspired by current industry leaders, broaden our professional network, and exchange innovative ideas.  

What is a quote that you live by or a piece of advice you’d pass to another woman? 

Everything is achievable with your determination. YOU can do it!   

Swapan Bahrani

Swapan Bahrani, MSc Economics & Strategy for Business 

In September 2022, we welcomed 187 students to our MSc Economics & Strategy for Business programme this year and 65% of these students are women.   

What does International Women’s Day mean to you and how are you celebrating this day? 

For me International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate women’s empowerment and growth. It is a day to amplify their voices in the right context. It is a day to ensure they’re heard, respected, and reciprocated for who they are and what they stand for. It is not just a day to celebrate how far women have come but how much potential they hold and how far they can go. 

What’s your biggest achievement? 

Making it to Imperial College Business School is one of my greatest achievements in life amongst others. As a child I cultivated a dream of moving abroad to pursue higher studies and Imperial College Business School has made that dream come true. Today, as I walk to campus every morning, it gives me immense pleasure to think that I’m soon going to be an alumnus of one of the most prestigious universities in the world. 

Who are your female role models and why?  

My greatest role model has and will always be my mother for she endowed me with the strength to conquer everything I ever undertook. From supporting me in my professional classical dance career to allowing me to study abroad, she and my father have paved the way to give me the best life possible. Fighting the challenges of a tough childhood herself, she made it a point to give me the best of everything she couldn’t get. I have always been an admirer of the woman she is and how graciously she carries herself both professionally and personally. 

How does Imperial College Business School make you feel empowered? 

Imperial College London and the Business School in general, provide a multitude of opportunities for women from all domains. From union leaders to club heads and college alumni, I have found women taking up space in all spheres of academic and business life at Imperial College London. The events that are hosted for Women in Business are a testimony to the number of efforts being put in to ensure that women feel equally treated and equally valued as professionals and global leaders, vouching for equal opportunities for growth, equal pay, and equal respect.   

What is a quote that you live by or a piece of advice you’d pass to another woman? 

My word – Never be afraid of taking up space because if you won’t, somebody else will.  

Anna Shirtstova

Anna Shirtstova, MSc International Management 

66 students joined us this year for our MSc International Management programme, 53% are women.   

What does International Women’s Day mean to you and how are you celebrating this day?  

As a young woman, I find March 8th  to be an empowering celebration of countless achievements of women worldwide. It is also a day to acknowledge the existing gender inequalities still prevalent in our societies and an opportunity to discuss what we can do to combat them. This year, my girlfriends and I are attending the Women of the World Festival hosted at the Southbank Centre. This space brings together activists, writers, and other exceptional individuals to celebrate the global feminist movement. 

What’s your biggest achievement and who is your role model? 

Despite progress, girls around the world continue to face unprecedented challenges in accessing education. In response to this challenge, during my bachelor's degree, I co-founded a company that guides students to access and secure scholarships in the most prestigious universities across the US and UK. This enterprise idea was inspired by my role model, Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani female education activist who became the youngest Nobel Prize laureate at the age of 17. She drew global attention to the threats and challenges to girls' education in Pakistan, and her bravery and passion still guide many girls to fight for their rights. 

How does Imperial College Business School make you feel empowered? 

I am surrounded by talented women who work in finance and who have shattered the glass ceiling. This network has inspired me to co-found the Real Estate Society and create a pathway for other women to enter the male-dominated sector of commercial real estate. This is important to me as I also want to break through this industry, and I want to equip students with the necessary skills to have equal opportunities to enter this sector. 

What is a quote that you live by or a piece of advice you’d pass to another woman? 

 This powerful quote from Malala captures the motivation that everything is within our reach, and we need to be proactive to act upon our dreams; “Some people only ask others to do something. I believe that, why should I wait for someone else? Why don't I take a step and move forward?” 

Jean Sau

Jean Sau, MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance  

Last September we welcomed 112 students to this programme, 53% of the class are women.  

 What does International Women’s Day mean to you and how are you celebrating this day? 

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate women voice and empowerment! I will be celebrating this day by cherishing the presence of my female friends and family members through expressing my utmost gratitude to them through sending words of affirmation and free hugs if I see them in person!  

 What’s your biggest achievement? 

My biggest achievement is being the first female member of my family to pursue a master’s degree! To add on to that, I am pursuing a master’s degree overseas! Through this achievement, I wish to set an example for my cousins and my future children that the sky is the limit and education is equal for all – all you need to do is work hard and stay strong in your own beliefs and virtues! 

Who are your female role models and why? 

This will sound very cliché, but my female role model is my mama! (or “妈妈” in Mandarin Chinese). She left her corporate job and sacrificed so much of her blood, sweat and tears to raise us. As a stay-home mum, she is constantly working 24/7 (not to mention, this is a full-time job without monetary compensation). She is my biggest mental health supporter and adviser and I would not be who I am today without her.  

How does Imperial College Business School make women feel empowered? 

Imperial College Business School makes me feel empowered through offering classes such as ‘Working in Diverse Organisations’, which gives me insights on how to handle situations where I feel mistreated or judged as a woman.    

What is a quote that you live by or a piece of advice you’d pass to another woman?

Live a life that you won't regret, by embracing originality! 

About Helen Richardson

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