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Starting your MBA while still growing your family – a personal perspective

Julie Wang not only planned in great detail her personal MBA journey, but she also grew her family along the way.

Julie Wang from the Cambridge MBA class of 2018.
Julie Wang (MBA 2018)

Julie Wang (MBA 2018) moved to Cambridge from London with her family at the start of the academic year and gave birth to her second child at the end of the first term. Originally from China, Julie previously ran strategic and operational audits for global corporates in both the APAC and EMEA regions. Prior to the Cambridge MBA, she lived and worked in Toronto, Hong Kong and London.

Classmates from the Cambridge MBA class of 2018 were quick to admire Julie “for her tenacity and her ability to maintain a level of work and a school life balance” said Thabo Lenneiye.

Thabo Lenneiye (MBA 2018)
Thabo Lenneiye (MBA 2018)

Cited across the 2018/19 cohort as the most admired student in the class, Julie really made an impact for reasons beyond the family dynamic. Nana Mohan Zhou added; “I admire Julie as she was always so well balanced.  Her actions exemplify the ability to maximise both the personal and professional lives and she is very inspirational”.

Julie says that she feels incredibly humbled to have made a positive impact on other women in the cohort.  She says that coming to the MBA with a growing family was a bold move, but she is happy that she took the leap. It took a lot of careful planning and she was grateful that she had full support from her family.

“Shortly after accepting the offer from Cambridge, I found out I was pregnant. My husband, Jasmin, and I were very excited and happy for the news. I knew it would be extremely challenging to do a one-year intensive MBA programme with a young baby and a toddler, but I was very keen on making it happen. It required a lot of planning and negotiation with my family but luckily, my husband was able to take an extended paternity leave.  I also found a nursery for my eldest, before relocating to Cambridge, and I was fortunate that my mother lived close by Cambridge to also help out.”

Nana Mohan Zhou from the Cambridge MBA class of 2018.
Nana Mohan Zhou (MBA 2018)

From her own experience, she recommends for anyone considering combining an MBA with a young family, to make sure that the support system is in place, before taking the big step.

In addition to family support, she says that accommodation was also key to the planning process: “I wanted to live close to the nursery and the Business School so that I could maximise my time available for both school and family”. Cambridge is a relatively small city and the Business School is located centrally, so this was possible with early organising and planning.

Julie came to Cambridge for her MBA programme because of the wider city eco-system, the Cambridge Cluster and the start-up culture prevalent across the city and region as a whole. She was keen to explore the growing trend for new technology across business and traditionally non-tech sectors.

On top of the MBA course work, Julie attended a few conferences, participated in one key case competition and was heavily involved in the healthcare club during the Cambridge MBA. “It all came down to setting a realistic goal for myself and what I want out of the programme. I had a roadmap in the beginning of the year for the key activities that aligned with my interests and aspirations, and then I adjusted as I went along.”  

She continues; “I achieved my expectations to finish the year well and all the details along the way and the goals I set myself were also achieved”.

The MBA classmates were also very supportive and understanding.  She never felt out of place and was welcomed back warmly after the birth.  “During my Global Consulting Project, I was still feeding, and my team worked around my schedule and needs at that time. We were on a busy project for the LEGO Group in London on digital supply chain, and it was an incredible learning experience”.  

“I was always going to have a challenging career and so the challenges of the Cambridge MBA journey were a good testing ground for the future. It was great to take my family along on that journey.”