5 Reflections on my MBA experience
Now that I’ve graduated and moved away from North Carolina I’ve had some time to think about my MBA experience. To articulate the experience as best as I can I’ve come up with a series of questions and answers which paints a picture of what the experience meant to me.
Q: What’s an experience you’ll never forget?
Working on the MBA Student Association (MBASA) as the VP of Diversity is something I’ll never forget. While I’ve done student government for many years in high school and college, what stood out about this experience was the ability to work on such a highly motivated, talented team and with just plain fun group of people. Our Leadership team of 10 of our best leaders worked well together but more importantly, challenged, supported, and empowered each other to achieve goals, tackle difficult challenges, and most importantly, serve the needs of our fellow classmates. While there were long nights, stressful moments, and plenty of challenges, I felt compelled and energized to work through those moments of challenge because I respected and enjoyed my teammates.
Q: What are you most proud of?
UNC Kenan-Flagler prides itself on selecting people who have demonstrated leadership skills but who also show an aptitude for developing further as a leader. From the beginning, I was surrounded by people who had already demonstrated excellent leadership skills. While I felt like I had developed a strong leadership skillset, I felt I had much to learn. I found this to be true, but on numerous occasions my fellow classmates, administrators, and faculty members would ask me for advice on how to lead, or how to think through leadership challenges. This was both exciting and humbling in that it gave me an opportunity to help others, but humbling because so in many ways it meant others respected how I thought and how I led. One of my proudest moments came when I was nominated and selected for the Core Value Leadership Award in front of my family and fellow classmates during Graduation. Yet again, it showed me that not only was I confident in my leadership abilities, but my peers were too.
Q: If you could do your MBA over again what would you do differently?
Early on in my MBA experience, I put a big emphasis on wanting to prove myself to my classmates. I was younger than most of them and also initially waitlisted and wanted to demonstrate that I did belong and that I could “cut it” here. In an environment of high-performing people, it was easy to feel insecure about your weaknesses or development areas. If I could do it again, I would have focused less on proving myself to my classmates and more on being honest about my weaknesses and development areas. Business school and Kenan-Flagler is a safe environment where people are supportive of who you are, regardless of your skill level. As soon as I realized this, I began to find opportunities to work on things I wanted to improve, and my growth shot up exponentially. If I could do it over, I would have tried to be honest about this earlier, that way, my growth could have started even further.
Q: What changes have you noticed in yourself from when you began your MBA?
Since I began business school, I’ve gained an even clearer sense of self – an even better understanding of what motivates and drives me. This has helped me understand past decisions I’ve made but also formed my process for future decisions. For instance, when I previously worked for Deloitte, I really enjoyed doing activities such as campus recruiting, and training and mentoring junior analysts, formally and informally. I realized that I’m both gifted and passionate about helping people understand their talents and showing them how they can use them in the best possible way. As a result of this, I’ll focus on career opportunities in the future where I can manage teams, especially of junior staff.
On a more tangible level, I’ve become a better communicator. I’ve always felt comfortable with my public speaking and group communication skills but one area that I felt needed work was my written communication skills. I took a handful of classmates in business writing and also made a commitment to writing more frequently. I started a blog, and posting regularly on LinkedIn. Over time, I’ve become much better at organizing my thoughts and communicating them in a way that encapsulates the message I’m trying to convey.
Q: What makes Kenan-Flagler students unique?
There are many great MBA programs and many great MBA students and graduates from these great programs. What sets Kenan-Flagler students apart is that that when it comes to business they care equally about the how and the why and they care even more about the who. First, they care how business gets done. They make sure that the process of doing things is done in the best possible way, a way marked by collaboration, emphasis on inclusion, and free of bias in order to achieve results. But, they also care about why things are done the way they are done. They use logic, analytical horsepower, and when necessary, intuition to make sure that they are following the right path. Lastly, they put an emphasis on the who. Kenan-Flagler graduates care most about the people. They actively develop relationships, look out for their teammates, and care about both the collective success of the team as well as the individual contributions and development of the people within it. Above all, when you are working with a Kenan-Flagler graduate, you can count on the fact that they have your back.