Dr Tarimcilar, Associate Dean of Graduate Programs,
George Washington University

Dr Tarimcilar was named Associate Dean for Graduate Programs in March, 2007. He is an Associate Professor of Decision Sciences and has been a faculty member at George Washington University since 1999. Dr Tarimcilar's current research focuses on business and public sector applications of various decision models. Dr Tarimcilar teaches courses in Managerial Statistics, Operations Management and Decision Models. He has been the recipient of numerous teaching awards, including the Outstanding and Excellent MBA Teaching Award five years in a row.

What advice would you give to women who are wishing to do an Executive MBA?

I think the first one would be the same as we would give to both male and female MBA candidates. Obviously, you have to have family and corporate buy-in. You have to prepare your family. You have to prepare your workplace (your organization) that this is going to be a demanding year or two, depending on your program.

I think that is going to be the most critical one, but of course in this case, for women, it'll probably be more things to juggle. For some reason, even in the United States, the family responsibilities on women are a little more than a male candidate. For them the preparation is a little harder. The commitment is a little deeper for them, and honestly, I think the demands on them, for all dimensions of life, are going to be a little greater.

In return for this, we give more respect to the women candidates or our women students and more appreciation as they graduate. We recognize the fact that they have given more than their male counterparts, but they have to be ready for some stressful years during the program.

What would you say to women who may be hesitant to apply for an Executive MBA program because of this additional juggling that they will have to face?

One thing is historical data. More and more women come into our Executive MBA programs. What I would tell them is to talk to those people and that's one of the things we do in our program. When a candidate, particularly a female candidate, applies for the program, before even the admission process, we set them up with either a second year Executive MBA female student or a recent alumni so that they will know what's required.

Setting the expectations right is the most important thing. Once that's done, I think people who are qualified to be in the program can go through the program,I'm not saying easily, but smoothly. Yes, it's a sacrifice. Yes, they will miss some of their hobbies at times with their families or some maybe miss one or two performances of their kids, but at the end they go through that and find it quite rewarding both professionally and honestly, I think socially.

Executive MBAs have a nice camaraderie, a cohort attitude, particularly in our program because they go through two or three residencies. So I think the whole experience is very rewarding. Again, the admission process is a rigorous one for us as well. We want them to know what they are getting into, but I think at the end, when both sides are happy with each other once they step into the program, I think they know what's expected.

We've talked about this idea of helping women especially with a 'mentoring partnership' with a second year and/or alumni. What are you doing to actually try to increase the number of women in your Executive MBA program?

First of all, let me kind of put in a plug that as an MBA program we were ranked as the second most women-friendly program (our full time MBA program). Right now in my full time MBA program, 48% of my students are female and 35% for the Executive MBA. We take pride in that and this came after quite a strategic approach to having diversity in the classroom.

We did profile women graduates in our brochures. We brought in female second year students or alumni in our information sessions. We tried to have the women's perspective about what's expected in the program. It was important for us, not only in gender but in every aspect. The diversity in the MBA classroom is very important for us. I think we have achieved that. It has worked for us.

Do you have any other bits of advice or information that you would like to pass on to our readers?

Although I know there's an economy crisis and there's a lot of uncertainty right now, I really think this is a good time for those who are ready to step into managerial jobs to consider an MBA or Executive MBA. It's not only the program but the whole educational experience from teams and cohorts and the camaraderie within the groups. I think all the universities are offering very strong MBA programs, not even only for career, but as a social experience as well. I think it's very worthy. I strongly encourage people to look into MBA programs. It's a great career enhancer and a good social experience as well.

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