Each week, JWMI profiles students and alumni in its new featured series “Winning Voices.” Learn about our diverse community and what sets our program apart from those who have experienced it. For more great “Winning Voices” content, click here.
Senior Manager of Quality
Sperry Rail, Inc.
Program/Concentration: Jack Welch MBA
Why were you looking to get an MBA?
I wanted to get an MBA because I knew it was necessary for me to grow and gain new opportunities professionally. However, going into the program, I had no concept of the growth I would experience over 12 terms. As a result, I am a changed person and better positioned for the professional development I sought coming into the program.
Did you find the curriculum immediately applicable?
JWMI’s motto is “Learn on Monday. Apply on Tuesday.” Throughout the program, I was given a toolbox that we built upon each week for immediate application. Despite my background in operations and change management role, I was unaware of many frameworks and tools needed to succeed. I learned change management through observation and the school of hard knocks. Adding tools such as Kotter’s framework of change, McKinsey’s 7S framework, and PESTEL analysis gave me concrete tools to leverage my change initiatives. These tools, coupled with the soft skills learned in our leadership, communications, and people management courses, gave me the interpersonal and emotional awareness to effectively apply them.
What’s been your most rewarding experience in the program?
Throughout the program, I was rewarded by experiences and challenges designed to mold me into an effective leader. It started with my interactions with classmates on our discussion questions (DQs), where a diverse set of opinions and backgrounds drove robust dialogues that helped us understand the material. Throughout the program, we had opportunities to present information virtually and hone our ability to communicate, which gave me a newfound confidence in my professional communications skills. Finally, in the Capstone course, I acted as the CEO of my company, which allowed me to combine critical and analytical thinking and skills to succeed in any setting. This experience was invaluable for my growth and ability to transform into a leader.
How did you navigate school, family, and work? What strategies did you implement to get it done?
Navigating life through the program was challenging. Early on, I focused on being present and setting schedules. Technology makes us all accessible 24/7 to work, friends, etc., I admit that this was a challenge, but I segmented my time as best as possible. I tried to keep work more or less during the workday, save my evenings for family, and then do schoolwork or other remaining work in the evenings once my kids were in bed. If you ask my wife, she will say that I still have a long way to go in this time-management concept; though, this framework made it possible for me to double up on courses while working from home through the pandemic so I could finish my studies before the birth of my third child. For those entering the program, you need to figure out what works best for you, but I want to challenge you (as I continually challenge myself) to be present where you are and figure out the schedule that works best to support your goals.
WAS THERE A PARTICULAR PROFESSOR OR MEMBER OF THE STAFF THAT YOU FELT HELPED YOU TO EXCEL? PLEASE ELABORATE.:
As someone from an operations background who is driving change, I found the leadership, communications, people management, and change management content incredibly beneficial to my growth.
I had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Gary Bodam for both Leadership in the 21st Century and Organizational Change and Culture. Through these courses, his knowledge and mentorship met me where I was to pick up where the course content left off and push me for more. I was challenged to grapple with the content and own it, giving me a better handle on it than I would have otherwise. I enjoyed being pushed for more throughout the program and am better for it.
Please share any advice for new students embarking on the MBA journey.
For anyone entering the JWMI program, I have three pieces of advice.
First, figure out a schedule or framework and stick to it. You may have to adjust it a few times to get it right, and it may evolve as life changes, but the more you can stick to it, the better you will be for it. A framework allows you to be present in work, personal life, and school without worrying about one while focused on another.
Second, strive to finish your work early. When life happens, it happens fast and hard and leaves little grace, so bake in the grace ahead of time. If a DQ is due Wednesday, aim for Monday. If you miss your target due to life, you still have time to turn it in on time. If a project is due Sunday, try to complete it on Friday, then you can enjoy your weekend and have extra time if you underestimate the level of effort needed. I aimed to finish projects on Friday and then gave them one final pass on Sunday before submitting them. That worked well for me. Doing this means working ahead, but once you get in the rhythm of it, this feels more like staying on top of things rather than working early and provides greater flexibility with your time when you need it most and removes the stress of working up against a deadline.
Finally, push yourself to go the extra mile; you will learn more and better comprehend the material. The DQs ask you for a minimum of two responses. Push yourself for three, maybe four. Respond to everyone who responds to you. Through these extra efforts, you will have to confront the material, research it further, and as a result, have a much better grasp of it. While it means more time, I guarantee you that you will be better for it and be proud of the final result.
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