Three years ago, I began my MBA journey, and the challenges that I’d face in—and outside—the classroom were far from the image I had of a balanced work-life-study lifestyle. Today, I’m four courses away from completion, and the climb is sharpening, the summit still looks a ways away, but after weathering some personal and professional transformations in these past two years, the last stretch is just the trek I need to succeed.
From Student to Professional
Out of my accounting undergrad from UCF I was very strategic and put a lot of effort into seeking employment somewhere in the Central Florida area. At the time, I was more on the “CPA” track than the “MBA” track, however I did know my career would eventually lead me to a more advanced executive education. After about a year of disappointing interviewing, long uneventful hoping for a ‘staff accountant’ or ‘financial reporting analyst’ opportunity, a good friend called me and told me I had a job waiting for me in NYC if I could get myself there. That’s a very encouraging story I’ll save for a dedicated blog.
After a few months of rigorous planning, and a little lot of help from my friends, my career was off. I started working directly for the controller of the company, living in my own one-bedroom apartment in Astoria, enjoying some of New York’s culture and diversity on the weekends, and the treasure map of my professional life had now a sailing point, but no “x” to mark the spot yet. Not long into my tenure, the rest of our company saw some of the good work I was doing for our financial operations, reporting, and analytics. The recruiting partners approached me with the chance to learn the trade, gain better communication skills, and make more money—they recruited me into the recruiting business.
I shadowed our recruiters, business developers, and kept a dotted line to my past home-base in the finance office while we finalized some projects. Overall, I picked up the “process” of recruiting very quickly: search, call, qualify, interview, present, onboard (I’m oversimplifying of course). There was still a lot more for me to learn beyond following our common lifecycle. Those soft skills and expertise, are what took a lot of woodshedding, tough lessons, and rigor to grow.
My colleagues saw progress in me all along the way, but I’d say it took me over a year to really own my successes and personal growth, and seek more of both. That’s when I started to put myself in more situations that I didn’t know how to handle—on purpose. I asked to be tasked with more complex positions, started reaching out to higher level executives trying to garner interest in new opportunities, attended networking and industry events around Manhattan, and added to my social circle of friends.
My recruiting career was on its way, it was now just a matter of time and follow-through for more success to materialize—I was confident of this. Next, I had to answer the question “What kind of an executive career do you see for yourself in a few years’ time?” Mentors, friends, colleagues, all contributed to the work ethic I now enjoyed, so I asked what roles they saw me fitting best into. Though I got as varied answers as I have interests, something was clear, I was a leader in grooming.
During one of my trips in 2014 to visit family in Orlando, my mother was in the middle of her masters in human resource management, and she invited me to sit down with fellow classmate Marc Howarth to get introduced to the Jack Welch MBA. Going back to school was of course in my radar, but not in my sights yet. The JWMI program sounded a lot more practical than a full on-site MBA program in a brick-and-mortar business school. I was very interested.
I applied after a couple of conversations with Marc and mulling the idea over, it would ultimately better prep me for the type of seat I wanted to occupy. The JWMI team accepted me and here I am today, four courses away from graduating.
The MBA Journey So Far
The JWMI path is an executive track for students, as practical as: learn it on Monday, use it on Wednesday, bring it back on Friday.
The courses in the program are:
- Modern Leadership
- Business Communications
- Marketing in the Global Environment
- People Management
- Financial Management I + II
- Managerial Economics
- Operations Management
- Organizational Change & Culture
- New Business Ventures & Entrepreneurship
My upcoming term is Organizational Change & Culture, starting April 3rd. My present company is undergoing a restructuring project where I’m involved in process improvements, and so I hope to both bring back firsthand experiences, and apply new tactics from the course. The past classes have built on each other, projects have been extremely applicable, and sometimes perfectly timed with lessons I’m learning in my day-to-day. An example was a Business Communications project, where I demonstrated how my team communicates with my clients, and my recommendation on “managing expectations” of hiring managers through a partnership approach to filling positions. The video was watched by all of my recruiting colleagues, and we incorporated a new tone in our work.
Class discussions, assignments, articles we read, all have so much to offer, I’ve absorbed a lot, and am keeping reference material around, especially the books we’ve read. The theory and material has a lot of place in my career today, however as I continue to advance professionally, it will become more and more important I keep these lessons learned fresh.
My MBA journey has been incredibly rewarding, and the life that happens along the way has added the positive kind of friction driving me to deliberate progress. Job changes, relationship challenges, health, family, will never stop “happening”, and neither will the demands of the marketplace, the company I serve in, the new urgent clients…and so on. How I approach deliverables and sacrifices today, will serve as a stretching exercise for the rigors I’ll face with higher expectations and responsibilities I’ll face in my future.
I’m incredibly proud not just of where I am today, but how the Jack Welch MBA journey is pushing me to be the Level-5 professional that’s emerging.
DISCLAIMER: My blog post is not endorsed or sponsored by the Jack Welch Management Institute. Opinions expressed are my own personal experiences.