Friday, October 5, 2007

Firms to Older Women - We want you ! ... or not

I would have thought that older people entering (or re-entering as is the case here) would have more limited options and issues with good salaries, etc .... this article starts off talking optimistically, the title of the article ' MBA Programs pay off for Women .... ' and then the first paragraph ' ...have started to yield results. '

But down at the next to last paragraph, if the reader makes it there, indicates a totally different story .... half the women are unable to find anything after months of looking and the time and many thousands of dollars invested in this program .... seems to me that the ones that found something either had contacts in their old firms or settled for a lesser position ('American Kennel Club ... director of publicity' ... true, most dogs are not very articulate and would need a 'spokesperson' )

Bottom line ... this story 'spins' the results of the program and winds up :

1) painting a false picture of a failed Dartmouth program
2) trying to paint corporate America as open to both older workers and specifically in this case, to women (in higher non-entry level positions)

Using the business skills that the students presumably learned in this program to analyze the results would undoubtedly result in a much different conclusion about the program and it's results, rather than a puff piece like this.

October 5, 2007
M.B.A. Programs Pay Off for Women Seeking a Return to Wall Street
Efforts on Wall Street to re-engage women who are trying to return to the work force, many of whom left for family obligations, have started to yield results.
During the last few years, some of the nation’s premier business schools began to address that demographic group with executive M.B.A. programs. Of those, perhaps the most encompassing is the annual program started last fall by the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, with a curriculum that combined academics and career opportunities.
With a median age of 47 and an average of eight years out of the work force, 41 students — 35 women and 6 men — participated in the first Tuck program, known as Back in Business. Of those, slightly more than half have found high-level and often high-paying work, according to the program’s director, Anant Sundaram.
He said that of those, “one or two ended up with consumer products companies, four with nonprofit organizations and a dozen with banks or financial services firms.” Three others returned to their own businesses, one went on to graduate school and another “had great offers but has postponed getting back into the work force.”
Those in the program said that the biggest issue facing them was not whether their skills were rusty; rather, it was the confidence that they had lost while not working. As Diana Allan, a graduate, said when polled by another program graduate, she realized that she should “never apologize for being out of the market.”
Several Tuck graduates landed at Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Citi, where Hans Morris, an early champion of the program, was chief financial officer of the markets and banking division before becoming president of Visa Inc. in September.
One, Janine Abbatecola, 40, a 1989 Cornell graduate who left her job at Credit Suisse in 2003, landed at Goldman Sachs, she said, because of Tuck’s “career evening where eight, nine companies, one of which was Goldman Sachs, came.” She subsequently “came to an event at Goldman, wound up connecting with a recruiter and meeting with a group, and everything took off from there.” She took a job as a vice president in Goldman’s equities division, a position similar to the one she had held at Credit Suisse. (Goldman has hired six other women through its own initiative for those who have taken career breaks.)
Another Tuck participant, Bette Rice, 50, joined Merrill Lynch in the late 1980s but left in 2002 when “my kids were in middle school,” when she was a director working on fixed income products. Ms. Rice decided to try the Tuck program when her daughter was applying to college, and she found that it “contributed a lot to the soft skills — how to put together your approach to re-entry and to think through the job market, my skills, résumé and core competencies.”
While she interviewed at several places, she decided in January to return to Merrill Lynch.
Not all of the Tuck graduates have joined Wall Street firms. Some have opted to try their hand at entrepreneurship while others, like Anne Donoghue, turned to the nonprofit world.
Ms. Donoghue, a publicist, did some consulting work after being laid off at Warner Brothers in 2001, but she devoted time to her nieces and nephews after her brother-in-law died in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The program, she said, “gave me the confidence that I had something to contribute.” Ms. Donoghue, now 44, eventually decided that she wanted to work at a nonprofit organization. She learned through a networking site that the American Kennel Club was looking for a director of publicity.
While the need to explain their career gaps was not an issue, the women interviewed said, compensation, as expected, was a question. Those interviewed said their pay at least equaled their earlier earnings.
As Catherine Tanelli, 46, who now works in Citi’s investment banking division put it: “If you do the math, and look at straight numbers, my salary is higher now although it is five years later. I don’t know what it would have been had I stayed, because I probably would have had one or two promotions, with commensurate salary increases. My new position is as if time stood still.”
While there are many successes, Professor Sundaram said that consumer products companies have been more reluctant to hire those who have taken time off. “In part, many organizations don’t have champions like Hans Morris,” he said, adding that “some in H.R. have trouble dealing with this demographic and are struggling with how to appropriately place these people.”
Tuck is not the only business school with this type of executive program. Harvard Business School, for example, has had a program for its alumni for five years. Wharton started its first program in March, according to Professor Monica McGrath, who is directing the program.
Professor Sundaram said that the Tuck faculty is now reviewing applications for the next class, set to begin this month. He said that Tuck would adjust the program slightly this year, concentrating more heavily on refreshing financial knowledge as well as career skills, with less emphasis on leadership. The program has three sessions — two on the Dartmouth campus and one in New York. The cost is $13,500, but more than half is underwritten by corporate sponsors, which this year include Citi, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and MetLife. The participants pay for the rest.
While Professor Sundaram is pleased with the results to date, he acknowledged the difficulties in placing these high-level professionals. “It’s been a slog — out of 41 participants in the charter class, maybe 22, 23 are in positions close to what they are looking for. A handful, when confronted with the reality of the workplace, have recalibrated and decided they’re not quite ready. But there are a dozen who are very talented and hungry to do things, and who are, nine months later, still looking.”
Ms. Allan, 52, is one participant who is still looking. She said, “It’s a little harder to re-enter when you’re trying to change industries at the same time. It’s possible, because I’m talking to some people, but it’s finding the right fit — the right industry, the right level and where the job is challenging. The world is not as open to returnees as you would hope, but it’s getting there. I’ve been pleased with how people look at the résumé and accept that’s what I did.”

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