The Management Associate Programme at HSBC bank in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is an 18-month course designed to train senior managers for a demanding career in managing HSBC’s banking divisions. Management associates will be required to undertake a number of short assignments in personal financial services, commercial banking and global banking and markets.
With just under 2,000 applications and only three places a year on the MENA program alone, the HSBC Management Associate Programme is highly competitive, and Bultaif stresses that her MBA studies at IE Business School placed her in a fighting position to beat off the competition.
“Around 14 people attended an assessment centre of which only four were women. Three final candidates were selected and two of us were women. I would not have been able to get my current position if it was not for the MBA qualification.”
Ten months into the Dubai based program, Bultaif has travelled to the UK and Lebanon on work placements to gain an insight into the global workings of HSBC and to further develop leadership skills. She has successfully completed two key assignments: the regional strategy for customer experience where she formed a new team to improve customer experiences and helped them align their strategies with other divisions, and the regional commercial banking assignment in which she managed the cross-border account opening process in the MENA region.
Before her role at HSBC, Bultaif worked as a chief executive officer at a family-owned transportation business in Colombia, and after four years she decided it was time for an MBA.
“I have an undergraduate degree in economics but wanted more of a business-oriented degree,” she says. “An international MBA would give me an academic approach to business in areas such as marketing, finance and strategy, and it would be delivered in a challenging and multicultural environment.”
Bultaif chose IE Business School for its Latin American networking community and said meeting people from all walks of life was the highlight of the program.
“The people you meet with different experiences, backgrounds, and industries was most definitely a highlight of the MBA. I’ve not only gained useful skills in business management, but I’ve made friends, colleagues, and advisors in a variety of countries,” she says.
Bultaif says the MBA has given her the confidence to pursue a career in management, and while senior management roles are perceived to be male dominated, Bultaif says that with a good degree and good level of experience, women will have just as good a chance at securing their ideal management jobs as their male counterparts.
“Regardless of your being a man or a woman, an organization will look at your qualifications and potential. I do think that an MBA or another degree will give you access to certain positions and companies,” she stresses.
Over the past decades, a number of business schools and high-profile organizations have developed campaigns to attract women to their programs and businesses. As a result, Bultaif believes that organizations across the globe are employing more transparency in the recruitment processes, but that the issue is too few women are pursuing an MBA to be considered for a senior management.
“It is a challenge for these companies to find highly professional women who are qualified to meet managerial and leadership roles,” she says.
“If you want a career in management, don’t hesitate to pursue it. Today, it may be a male-dominated industry but not because there aren’t opportunities for women or because it is a male oriented industry. But rather, it is difficult to find women with high qualifications, so an MBA can make a difference”, she adds.
Bultaif also advises that it may be a good idea for women to look at companies that already have women in decision-making roles, “as these are the employers who are seriously committed to giving equal opportunities.”
Alongside its traditional MBA events, QS also organizes a series of events focussed on promoting greater female involvement in the management sector. To find out more about QS' Women in Leadership events, or any of the other MBA events that QS organizes, visit TopMBA.com's MBA events homepage.