By Les Roches MBA Student Ambassador Sandhya Rao
A big misconception that people usually have about marriage and having a child is that it can be a roadblock to ambition. Having been married for three years, the reaction that I observed from most people when I told them I was coming to Les Roches to pursue my MBA was quite amusing.
“You’re leaving your husband 4,000 miles away and moving to Switzerland?!”
“Your focus should be having kids at this stage in your life. Your clock is ticking!”
“Is everything ok in your marital life?”
While it was easy to laugh off some of these comments initially, the recurrence of these reactions honestly made me start second guessing my decision as I started packing my bags for Bluche. I was nervous about being the “weird married one” in a class with students much younger than me. Upon my arrival, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were several other postgraduate students who were in a similar position as me. As we all come to an end of our first semester, I think about the challenges that I thought we would face and asked my peers how it panned out for all of us:
What motivated you to join the program knowing that being away from your family will be difficult?
Les Roches is where my passion and dedication for hospitality started many years ago. Having put my career on pause to become a full-time mother of two boys (now 10 and 13 years old), I believe an MBA will allow for a seamless re-immersion into the work environment as I know the kind of commitment required by this industry. After more than 10 years in luxury hospitality, I have the experience, and the MBA from Les Roches provides the necessary tools to be in a strong position for future opportunities. (Victoria, MBA)
I have a very supportive husband and in-laws. My husband takes care of our little boy who is now 3 and a half years old. My in-laws have retired a long time ago and enjoy spending time with their grandson. I have worked in the hospitality industry back in China and having recently moved to Sweden, I felt it is the right time for me to pursue professional education before looking for job opportunities in Sweden. Having further education is not only good for myself, but also sets a good example for my son. (Surina, MBA)
I wanted to get an MBA in hospitality and the fact that Les Roches is in the mountains was a plus. My one year old daughter lives with me and I am really happy that she is spending a year close to nature. (Giulia, MBA).
How has your experience been with juggling school and the long distance from your family?
Being away from the family is not always easy and takes a toll on the family life, but the experience in such a diverse and multicultural community and the full academic and practical schedule gives back a lot. The PGD program is therefore the perfect way to experience the “Les Roches Way of Life” in the most efficient way. (Roman, PGD)
My husband lives in the US and the first few days being away from him were honestly rough. However, I think Bluche is designed to ward off homesickness – it’s a small town in the middle of a mountain and as new students, we spent so much time together in our first week that I made friends a lot faster than I expected to. Yes, time difference is still challenging, but it’s nothing a late night assignment can’t cure! (Sandhya, MBA)
There is no perfect way to handle the distance and of course we miss each other a lot. My husband and son visit me sometimes in Bluche and I also go to Sweden to see them. My only concern is that my son isn’t speaking any Chinese yet and I hope to teach him when I’m back! (Surina, MBA)
I am very fortunate to have my family’s full support during the MBA. We discussed the situation as a family, as in order for this project to work, I knew I needed everyone’s full commitment. It is all about planning and determination, so as not to lose sight of our ultimate goal. Having access to the academic calendar enabled us to carefully plan when we would see each other, which makes it easier for all of us. (Victoria, MBA)
Did other students see you any differently knowing that you have a family?
I feel that my classmates are quite friendly, and several of us are in the same situation. Nowadays we all talk about woman power. I admire women like that and we support each other. (Surina, MBA)
Yes, some of them tell me how much they admire me, as they believe it must be really difficult to balance everything. Everyone is very supportive and it is not that difficult to balance everything – even though I might be a little sleep deprived as my daughter is teething! (Giulia, MBA)
When I was considering applying for the MBA at Les Roches, I was aware that I would not be the average MBA student. I have a unique opportunity to learn from my peers, their lives and dreams and the stage in their lives they are at, which is very different to mine. I think we can all see differences, yet, we laugh together and also share many aspects in common. (Victoria, MBA)
I believe that how other students see you depends completely on the way you interact with them and how open you are to other cultures. The Les Roches community was very welcoming and open to any origin or background, so I did not feel excluded in any way. (Roman, PGD)
Even if they did, they didn’t show it. It’s what hospitality professionals are good at! I probably made too many “back in my day jokes” upon myself and adopted a few classmates along the way instead. (Sandhya, MBA)
My takeaway from our first semester at Les Roches is that if you have a dream, it’s never too late – because putting the words “what” and “if” together later in your life can make you feel like a claustrophobe watching Gravity on a plane – and as someone who has literally lived that moment, trust me – it isn’t fun!