From Manila to Mainhattan: My Executive MBA journey
Executive MBA / 20 March 2024
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Executive MBA Class of 2025
Mary Joy Mendiola is currently working as a Project Manager for Continental, a German multinational technology company. She has worked in various positions in tech and consultancy. Mary Joy studied Computer Engineering in Manila, the Philippines and moved to Germany a few years ago.

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They say a thousand-mile journey starts with one step. For me, it started with a click — the instant I applied to Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. Now, let me take you through my adventure as an Asian expat, navigating Germany’s business scene and carving out a path for future women leaders.

A leap of faith

As an Asian woman taking on the world of German business, it was more than a geographic transition; it was a cultural leap of faith.

Growing up, “study first” was the rule of the house, a cornerstone of my life in the Philippines. Getting anything less than a 90 on a report card felt like the world was ending. This might sound over the top, but being pushed like that made me who I am — always striving, always reaching for more.

Moving to Germany was a culture shock in the best way possible. Here, your work experience and what you can actually do matter more than where you got your diploma. It was a breath of fresh air, but it also got me thinking. I wanted to step up my game — not just for me, but for all the women climbing the corporate ladder.

So, why go back to school for an EMBA? I used to think that what I had learned on the job was all the education I needed. However, after observing how effective leaders operate and succeed, I recognised my mistake. This insight didn’t discourage me; it fuelled a new one — to blend my past with my potential and bring something extraordinary to the executive table.

The network effect

The decision to join Frankfurt School’s Executive MBA (EMBA) programme wasn’t made in isolation. Conversations with EMBA alumni, like my friend Ivy Figueroa from the 2024 cohort, really showed me what’s possible. Their stories were like adrenaline for my ambitions. We talked about promotions, new opportunities and finding passions they didn’t know they had. Hearing about their progress made me see the EMBA programme not just as classes to attend but as a stepping stone for my own growth.

What really drew me in was the chance to stand out in a competitive job market. As someone from another country, trying to make it to the top here, especially as a woman, it can be a tough nut to crack. But I figured that joining this programme would give me the strength and skills to face any challenge that comes my way. Listening to others in the programme, especially women who have led the way and broken barriers, showed me how valuable this experience could be. It made me realise that this programme was more than just learning; it was about making a smart move for my career and setting myself up to be a leader in a global setting.

Leadership in full colour

The FS EMBA cohort became my crucible for leadership. Here, seasoned professionals from across the globe bring their unique perspectives, creating a rich learning environment. This diversity has been eye-opening, showing me that there are many ways to lead and succeed. We’re learning about how to make smart choices in business together. More importantly, I recognised the need for more inclusive leadership—leadership that embraces diverse voices, including those of women and expatriates, as vital to innovation and growth. And, as a woman in this mix, I aim to take the best from these interactions and lead by example, showing that varied voices lead to stronger decisions.

The support from everyone at Frankfurt School has been incredible. It has made this journey a shared one, with every step teaching me more about the kind of leader I want to be. For every expat wrestling with the decision to step up, for every woman who wonders if she can lead, know that your unique perspective is your strength. Your unique outlook is exactly what the world of business needs today.