Why executive education should be part of C-suite women’s strategy for success

Indra Nooyi, former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, speaks during the Women in the World Summit on April 12, 2019 in New York.

By U2B Staff 

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Women have been making headway in the corporate climb, but there’s still much to be done to see more women network represented in C-suite positions.

McKinsey & Company’s Women in the Workplace 2019 report has found that more women are holding leadership positions in the US since 2015. “This is particularly true in the C-suite, where the representation of women has increased from 17% to 21%,” it said.

“Today, 44% of companies have three or more women in their C-suite, up from 29% of companies in 2015.”

Deloitte found that emerging C-suite roles have a higher representation of women than any other leadership category. Emerging leadership roles include chief analytics officer, chief brand officer, chief customer experience officer, chief data officer, and chief digital officer, to name a few.

“Overall in 2019, women accounted for 32.5% of emerging C-suite leaders, compared with 27% in traditional C-suite roles, and 20.3% of those in management roles one to three levels below the C-suite. Across a 10-year average, women accounted for 32.7% of emerging roles versus 21.9% of traditional C-suite positions,” said Deloitte.

While things are looking up for women, there’s still much headway to be made.

John Ryan, President, and CEO at Center for Creative Leadership, notes that women are often hired based on experience and accomplishments while men are frequently hired based on potential.

“Research has confirmed this issue, which leaves women constantly having to prove their readiness and ability while male colleagues are many times promoted faster, despite having fewer qualifications,” he said.


Development for C-suite women

Getting to the top echelons of the corporate ladder is one challenge, but staying at the helm can be equally, if not more, taxing. 

Many CEOs are dethroned for a variety of reasons, including scandals and poor performance. 

John Challenger, CEO at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, told The Economist that he believes boards of directors, whom CEOs report to, have less patience for poor results or mistakes made by the company or CEO. 

“When problems arise, boards now have a much shorter fuse, so they change CEOs like baseball managers.”

So what can be done to see more women network at senior levels and that they stay on top?

Apart from delivering at work, C-suite executive education courses at business schools can also help women leaders brush up on their hard and soft skills. 

Kellogg Executive Education, for instance, offers the Enterprise Leadership Program, which is designed to help high-potential senior executives acquire key leadership essentials such as an enterprise mindset, learn how to take calculated risks to position the organisation for present and future success, and make sound decisions without perfect information, among others.


IESE Business School offers the Global CEO Program which helps equip candidates with the right skills to analyse global trends shaping their industry, develop new leadership skills, and widen their network.

London Business School offers a Senior Executive Programme, which can help hone candidates’ leadership style, build a broader strategic mindset to capitalise on opportunities, and understand and utilise the motives of their stakeholders to maximise opportunity and value.

While experience and potential can help women succeed in C-suite positions, continuous learning will also help them progress as a leader and succeed in their roles.