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More women in positions of power could drive ambitious climate responses, says Henley’s MBA essay competition winner

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Having more women in top roles could lead to a more innovative and ambitious response to climate change, according to the winner of this year’s Henley Business School, Women in Leadership MBA competition, held in conjunction with the Financial Times and the 30% Club.

Cara Wilson, Head of Communications at HSBC, won a full scholarship for Henley’s Executive MBA - Global or Flexible Executive MBA programme after impressing the judges with her ideas for advancing gender equality in the fight against climate change.

Drawing on her own experience of working with organisations to improve gender equality, as well as handling the global launch of a large bank’s commitment to net zero emissions, Cara’s essay highlighted the unique experience of many of the world’s poorest women who find themselves on the front line of climate change, yet wield little power in fighting it.

Commenting on her winning essay, Cara said:

"I had been seeking to do an MBA and when I discovered the competition in the Financial Times, all the pieces fell into place. The competition topics of climate change and gender equality were ones which I had given much consideration over the years. They spoke directly to my combined experience of addressing gender inequality in the banking industry, as well as working for the United Nations on incentivising the global economy to urgently reduce carbon emissions.

“The competition was a fantastic way for me to explore the Henley executive MBA experience and I was impressed by the diverse faculty, quality of education and international exposure that the programme offers.

“Henley offers a world-class international business education, as well as key learnings on management and strategy. I am looking forward to the practical experience offered by the international study trips, with the opportunities to apply knowledge learned and work on the ground with companies in South Africa and North America."

More than 60 people entered the competition in 2022, which runs every year and is open to both women and men. Entrants were asked to submit an essay answering the question: ‘Would efforts to tackle climate change benefit from more women taking the lead?’

Cara has now begun her MBA programme, along with runner-up Siân Summerton, Programme Lead – Global Expert Missions at Innovate UK KTN, who received a 50% scholarship.

Interim Programme Director, Executive MBA – Global and Henley Business School judge Dr Ana Graça said:

“After ten years of our successful partnership with the Financial Times and the 30% Club running the essay competition, it is really pleasing to receive so many insightful and diverse entries.

“The 2022 essays were, once again, full of innovative proposals to forward gender diversity and balance within the working environment, especially focusing on tackling climate change.

“The winning essays took very thought-provoking positions in their proposals with concrete actions to close the gender gap on climate change across different areas. Women are already key agents in climate change initiatives to ensuring they continue to be involved at the very highest level of decision-making will only result in benefits to all.

“Congratulations to Cara and Sian, our winner and runner-up this year. I hope they can further enhance their career and personal journey in their MBA studies and use this opportunity to explore and implement change initiatives for gender parity.”

Cara’s winning essay is published as part of the FT’s Women in Business report, which explores subjects including childcare, corporate policies on women’s health, and testimony on how early work experience shaped six female leaders’ careers. Read the full report here.

Published 11 November 2022
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