Women Back to Business Program

posted on | updated on | by Zuri Girl

There are so many reasons that women take a break from their careers, like moving abroad or raising kids. And one thing we’ve noticed is that having a long gap on your CV can be difficult to overcome whenever you do decide to re-join the job hunt (ouch!). It can lead to frustration and low self-confidence – and we don’t want that, do we ladies? Luckily, there’s a highly-regarded local program (in English!) that can help you return to the workforce with confidence, experience, and up-to-date knowledge. Zuri Girl got the inside scoop on the Women Back to Business Executive Education Program offered by the well renowned University of St. Gallen. We spoke with Program Director Patricia Widmer about all the must-know details.

What is the Women Back to Business Program?

It’s a really unique general management program especially targeted towards women who would like to return to workforce or who want to reposition themselves on the labor market. There’s no other program like this in Switzerland! The program consists of:  

– Learning the most current management topics like strategy, marketing, HR and project management.

All of the learning modules are hosted onsite by different partner companies (think Novartis, Swisscom, Bank Coop, Raiffeissen Bank, Swarovski, Ikea) so participants aren’t just sitting in a classroom but are really immersed in a variety of company cultures and networks. There is a final case study and final paper due at the end of the program.  

– Having group and individual coaching.

Participants get real support in the change and transition process of heading back to the workforce. The coaching helps participants to figure out where they are currently and how to reposition themselves for the future. It’s a really unique feature of the program.  

– Completing an internship.

Participants get the chance to “get their foot in the door” and complete an internship at a company. Participants secure the internship themselves so they may choose a company they prefer and practice networking and interview skills. This internship allows participants to get accustomed again to a workplace, to make great connections, and to build self-confidence.

Why is it so helpful to join this Program instead of just trying to re-enter the job market on your own?

One word: network! I was shocked when we learned this statistic: more than 75% of all jobs in Switzerland are never publicly advertised. So many job offers are occurring in the “gray market” through the applicants’ networks. For women who have a gap in their CV, or who have relocated to Switzerland from another location, they may find that they don’t have the strong professional networks they need to find a good position. Our network reach from the program is quite large. The Women Back to Business program has alumni from the past 9 years of programs and have strong connection with over 35 partner companies who support the program. The University St. Gallen itself has a well-known and well-regarded reputation worldwide for being one of the top business schools so by doing an executive education program here, it also helps to give a certain brand to your CV.

What have past participants said they “walk away with” from the program?

It has a lot to do with the participants’ personal development. In the program, participants work a lot on themselves and do a lot of reflection and are open to learning from those reflections. Where am I now, where am I coming from, and where do I want to go in the future? When you’re open to this deep work, you discover new possibilities and opportunities for yourself and your career. Confidence is also a really important element that participants develop throughout the program. When they start the program, they are a totally different person from the person who graduates. Participants who entered the program last March just recently finished all the modules and will graduate in June 2017 – it’s fascinating. They’re completely different. They’re different people. That’s what participants walk away with. Confidence and deeper self-awareness in addition to the latest knowledge around top management topics.

Have past participants been successful in re-entering the workforce after the program?

Yes, they’ve been quite successful. About 75% of participants find their way back into the workforce or have a new job. And two out of every three participants said the program was very helpful and very important for them to get back to the workforce or find a new job.

For the women reading this who love the concept and are worried about the costs, are there any special fee reductions or payment plans available?

This is something very important to us. The tuition cost is similar to other Executive Education programs but we do realize that the cost does initially appear high. We are really here to support the participants so we stay quite flexible on payments and offer both tuition fee reductions and payment plans. We understand it’s a special situation to join this particular Executive Education program because many of the women aren’t currently working and have no earnings / salaries to pay for the program. We work with partner companies who pay for up to 50% of tuition costs (based on family financial need). Then we work on individual payment plans and we really try to accommodate the participants’ needs and have quite a variety of payment options. We make it as individualized as possible for each participant so that cost doesn’t have to be a deterrent. It’s also great to know that in Switzerland you can deduct executive education from your taxes. Of course the requirements for the deduction vary slightly per Kanton and each participant should check on their local laws.
Ladies, if this program sounds perfect for you, head over to the Women Back to Business website or attend a live local info session. And remember, application deadline for this year’s class is 1 March 2017 (first come first serve)!

Zurich Information Session

When: 2 February | 19.00

Where: Hotel Central Plaza | Central 1, 8001 Zurich

Cost: FREE!

Registration: Click here

Website: Click here


Article created in collaboration with and supported by Women Back To Business