In one of our most popular blog series featuring our female students, we asked our students to share their experiences with us – the challenges of getting back to school, managing work and study along with family, and the unique challenges they faced being female students.
Darija is a graduate of our MA programme in Leading Innovation and Change (MALIC) through our exclusive partnership with York St John University, UK. This programme has been discontinued and reincarnated as a 100% online MBA programme in Leading Innovation and Change.
“The MALIC program was the enabler to put all the puzzle pieces together that I had acquired in my working life. It made all things very logical and made me understand all the interactions even better.
I enjoyed the learning journey a lot! Since it is an online course, I really liked the freedom to learn in my pace and time.
The residency week was just great! Not only the learning but the people made it very special! It was wonderful to meet new friends from all over the world.
I cannot imagine any program to be more international than MALIC is! This aspect brings in fantastic personalities and perspectives.
Thank you to all who made this learning such a fun journey!”Darija Barrech, Managing Director – Culcha gmbh, Zurich, Switzerland and an alumnus of Robert Kennedy College
Who are you, really (How do you define yourself? Professionally, personally?)?
My home is where my heart is. That describes me quite well. I am 1 of 4 children of my Croatian mother and my Pakistani father. I was born in Germany and grew up in Pakistan. At 15, I returned to Germany for further education. So maybe now you know why I ended up in HR :). I love people, I breathe change, I innovate, and I am culture… After heading HR for a multinational medical device company, I wanted to give some “fresh air” to my brain. I had been looking for a program for over a year. After completing MALIC, I founded my own company (www.culcha.world), where I consult organisations in the area of organisational culture, leadership and change. Since August 2017, I have been a mom of our daughter Aviva which is another BIG learning and blessing in life. For almost 10 years, my husband and I have been living in Switzerland – which is a lovely and beautiful country.
Getting back to education
Your story of getting back to do a Master’s degree
What was the driving force behind your enrolling for an online degree? Who inspired you? What motivated you?
After heading HR for a multinational medical device company, I wanted to give some “fresh air” to my brain. I had been looking for a program for over a year. My husband, who saw an advertisement for the MALIC program in an aeroplane magazine, made me aware of it. The program was THE PERFECT FIT for me. It was blended, and the topics were spot on.
What were the thoughts/situations/people/challenges holding you back from starting (if any)? How did you overcome them?
What surprised you the most when you started your studies?
One thing I had never anticipated or thought of while looking for a good program was the mix of students. We were around 40 students in my cohort and “only” 4 where from Europe – the others coming from all over the world! I really made friends for life!
Do you feel there are unique challenges women face when deciding to get back into education?
When I started MALIC, I was without children but in a challenging job. From today´s perspective, I can imagine starting a program like MALIC could be very challenging in terms of time capacity (if you have children). Of course, like everything in life, it’s a question of priorities. Another thought might be in the direction of other national/geographical cultures… I could imagine that women in certain geographies might have the wish to conduct such a program but do not have the financial or family backing to do so.
Getting the degree
The work to get the degree – what did you learn, how did you balance, what would you do differently
Which programme did you do? Why?
MALIC, the program was THE PERFECT FIT for me. It was blended and the topics where spot on. I liked the focus on change, leadership, culture, strategy and innovation.
What is the single most important thing you learned during the programme?
That I can learn everything, I want!
How did you balance work and studies?
Discipline and backing from my husband.
Any particular challenges to being a woman and studying online, or do you think all students face the same ones?
I do not see any particular challenges women face other than in time and/or culture/geography.
What changed, if anything?
What’s new in your life since graduating/starting your studies? Any visible impact already?
I feel very sure and am very curious about the topics. I still keep learning.
Anything you are doing differently now because of the things you learned?
My way of learning has changed. I have been more academic-driven since MALIC. I more often consult studies when evaluating a topic.
Do you feel that getting a Master’s degree or doing other online programmes can reduce gender discrimination in the workplace?
I don’t think it can.
Advice for other women
Or other students, really.
Imagine you could send a message back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be?
Why didn’t I do it earlier?!
Imagine you could send an object back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be?
My MALIC Degree 🙂
Anything else you would like to add that could help with the goal of increasing women’s participation/access to a Master’s degree?
Completing MALIC was not only fun and smooth due to the topics, but it just gave me so many AHA moments and it clicked so many things I knew from practical work. It was THE BEST thing to do for me! Of course it is not easy doing such a program next to full time work, family, kids,…. BUT it is worth every minute spend. Professionally I grew by doing MALIC. I founded my own company (www.culcha.world) where I consult organisations in the areas of culture, leadership and change. While being on the residency week in York, we had the opportunity to see the graduates (a year above us). This picture was THE motivator for me to continue and keep on learning when times got tougher.
If this blog has motivated you to challenge yourself and do a master’s degree, then have a look at our list of programmes and see if we have anything you are interested in doing.
You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on the programme that is right for you, the application process, and details on discounts we might be offering at this time.