Young girls in Europe take a great deal of interest in STEM subjects (science, technology, math) and that interest peaks at around age 11. According to a new survey, commissioned by Microsoft, by age 15, girls’ enthusiasm for sciences wanes and all but vanishes by the time they finish secondary school. Much of this is due to conformity and social expectations, and lack of positive female role models. “Not surprising”, says Stephanie Lindan, one of the recent graduates of the University of Exeter’s One Planet MBA programme. Having been featured as an Outstanding Woman in STEM by IBM, Stephanie may very well become the role model young girls need.
Hailing from College Station, Texas, Stephanie was initially attracted to the One Planet MBA programme’s commitment to change for good and strong partnerships with leading technology companies such as IBM. “I didn’t just want an average MBA,” she says. “I believe that effective use of technology can empower positive global change and help businesses create value by addressing the key social and environmental issues facing the world,” she adds. Stephanie spent her year on the programme focusing on technology and how it can be a catalyst in the very change for good she is pursuing. “I am passionate about innovation and digital transformation, and I wanted to work at the intersection of business and technology,” she adds.
So she did just that. Stephanie worked with IBM all throughout her tenure, which culminated in a consulting project with IBM and a big six energy provider. Her project resulted in her developing the business case for smart metering and artificial intelligence in wake of recent UK regulations. IBM’s Mike Bernard, remarked on Stephanie’s work, “Stephanie’s project delivered truly exceptional results, bringing an innovative approach to a customer problem that led to entirely new discussions with senior client executives.”
Stephanie credits much of her success to the Emerging Business module, ably taught by Adam Lusby, One Planet MBA’s lecturer, and Senior Circular Economy Research Fellow at the University of Exeter Business School. “Within this module, we are looking at emerging and disruptive technologies, social trends, and at a variety of business models that are created from the inevitable collision of social and technological aspects. We examine platforms like eBay and Amazon, co-operatives, shared economy models and more, keeping at the heart the notion that companies can and should do good,” Adam says. Because the module is relatively broad brush, the assignments are run in conjunction with partners, Barclays, Oxfam, Fairtrade Foundation, just to list a few. Students’ input into real-life solutions, not to mention the contacts gained, are invaluable.
Stephanie’s final project with IBM was so well received that she was featured at IBM’s London screening of Hidden Figures hosted by Caroline Taylor OBE and was one of the key panellists offering her thoughts on how to retain young girls’ interest and enthusiasm for sciences. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she does become a role model for girls,” says Nicolas Forsans, One Planet MBA programme director. Upon graduating with distinction in December 2016, Stephanie joined the founding team of a financial technology firm as the Chief Digital Officer and is currently participating in the prestigious Techstars Accelerator. At the end of the programme she will begin her new role at Accenture.
Stephanie’s journey, says Adam Lusby, is an example of a “tenacious intelligent businesswoman who also has the curiosity to keep looking into new areas. I think she has an entrepreneurial mind set. She networks, she studies, she is curious and she takes the opportunity when she sees it. This is where the advantage of our One Planet MBA comes in,” Adam says. Nicolas agrees. “Stephanie is driven and focused. She brought value to her clients. She had a clear goal in mind and an insight into what she wanted to do. She never lost sight of that goal.”
“My experience with blockchain, big data and artificial intelligence has opened many doors,” Stephanie says. “Thanks to the skillset, the confidence and the knowledge gained during the MBA, I can work across a variety of business units when I start at Accenture. The programme as a whole allowed me to identify opportunities in the market place to create value for the companies while solving big global challenges. Indeed, this was my professional aspiration,” she adds.
Stephanie tweets on : @sjlindan. bit.ly