Breaking the Glass Ceiling

By Ernesto Altahona
One Planet MBA Student 2014/5


My main motivation for undertaking an MBA was to expand my horizons. I wanted to break the glass ceiling that I had on top of me, and I decided the best way was at Exeter with the One Planet MBA. My decision proved to be right. I can´t demonstrate it now with how much my salary has incremented, or any change of my job because I am still studying. What I can offer is the certainty that something changed inside me, in the best possible way.

I could feel the exact moment the click happened, the Friday that we finished the Entrepreneurship module. And since that moment I have been asking myself this question; what happened?

The main reason is that we were immersed in the entrepreneurship world with real entrepreneurs. More than ten different entrepreneurs were in the classroom, but that’s not all; some of them stayed all day and gave us feedback directly, and even better, one day, we went and visited them in their companies. This gave a whole different perspective to the message they delivered. Also, because all the entrepreneurs had different profiles and backgrounds, one message may get to you very easily, but maybe you didn’t connect that well with another person. At the end of the module, at least one person had ignited the passion in you.

What I think made the difference, is that the professor deliberately wanted us to network with the entrepreneurs and there was a tea break after each presentation, creating the space for us to ask more informal kinds of questions, to engage with a different perspective, and to truly learn. Almost all of us seized the opportunity. I decided to do my consultancy with one of the entrepreneurs, and another is mentoring me with my business idea. He even offered to support me in my final project.

The best thing of all is that everything is focused on your business idea, and the delivery of the module is a business plan (any model you want to use).  Finally, a ‘Dragons’ Den’, with REAL investors. Last year 2 projects were given REAL money. What could possibly be better than that?

The key for success was that the professor was a facilitator, he didn´t profess anything, he is more like a tailor using a treadle, he spoke very little. At the same time you realise that without him it would be a senseless module, because every time he made an intervention was because he had a profound reason to. What made the difference is that the professor encouraged us to ask deep and uncomfortable questions, creating a true learning environment. He was helping us to pull from the experience of the entrepreneurs, (not pushing knowledge into us). We felt he was part of the learning team, our team.

At the end of a week of 9 to 5 classes (sometimes longer!) that Friday, I felt full of passion and energy, I can honestly say this module changed my life, and for the better, I realised the glass ceiling that was on top of me had broken. It´s a “must take” elective.

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