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.
Director of Digital Initiatives for Middle and Large Commercial Business
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR ROLE AT THE HARTFORD
I lead teams of talented IT professionals to deliver digital capabilities for our business partners. I am responsible for acquiring talent, developing plans, managing stakeholder relationships, sourcing, and building high-performing teams.
HOW HAS THE JWMI CURRICULUM HELPED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
JWMI’s curriculum continues to be significantly instrumental in shaping my leadership skills and differentiating me from other team members. At the time I enrolled at JWMI, I was looking for a job change. The interview tips, executive presence practice, and people management skills helped me win my dream job. From day one, I was able to apply my learnings, and in no time, I gained credibility and respect within the senior leadership circle. My candor, empathy, and transparency helped build trusted relationships with my team, senior leaders, and business partners.
In a nutshell, the program changed my mindset on leadership. Leadership is not about me; it’s about my team and the company. It is a significant change in my thought process. In a competitive corporate world, differentiating oneself takes effort and emotional intelligence. JWMI helped me create this.
The second vital learning from JWMI that I bring to my career is the importance of making those around me successful. I never thought of this principle before the program. While interviewing, I told my interviewer that my success depends on making my manager and my leaders successful. I believe this was a key differentiator in my interview, and I ensure, daily, that I live up to that commitment.
Lastly, the learnings from Marketing, Finance, Operational Management, Strategy, Culture, Communication, and People Management courses equipped me with better business insight and knowledge. I’m now more confident in my conversations with business leaders and the team.
This program has made me realize my strengths, weaknesses, and provided tools and techniques to be a better leader who can create a winning team.
WHY WERE YOU LOOKING TO GET AN MBA?
I had aspired to earn an MBA for a long time. I wanted to differentiate myself from others. I was looking for a curriculum that would boost my career and provide more opportunities so I can better enjoy both my job and my life.
DID YOU FIND THE CURRICULUM WAS IMMEDIATELY APPLICABLE?
I have been able to practice nearly everything from the Jack Welch MBA in my job. To share examples:
- Communication: Within three weeks of joining my dream company, my CIO asked me to create a presentation for a town hall. The feedback was highly encouraging, and I was quickly recognized as the “Executive Presentation Guru” within the department. Since then, I’ve led many successful Town Halls and lead communication improvement initiatives for the department.
- Organizational (Culture) Change: I am implementing Kotter’s 8 step strategy to drive a risk-taking and courageous leadership culture within my department.
- Marketing: I am helping drive branding and marketing for my department to promote our work within the company.
- Leadership/People Management: Practicing candor and letting team members know where they stand has improved my team’s performance. I learned to focus on “what” went wrong and “what” we should do differently, instead of “who and why.”
These practices earned the respect of my colleagues. I was able to build my credibility in my new organization, and this led to my new leadership position. I was able to align my team with the company vision. My team has developed a sense of urgency and a customer focus mindset that helped to deliver four high-value projects in just one year. I have humility and pride in knowing that they trust me and want to continue to work with me.
Within three months of joining my new company, I was recognized by my CIO for adding tremendous value to the team.
LOOKING BACK AT WHAT YOU THOUGHT ABOUT AN ONLINE PROGRAM WHEN YOU FIRST EMBARKED, WHAT WAS YOUR OVERALL IMPRESSION NOW? DID IT MEET YOUR EXPECTATIONS?
Honestly, I was skeptical about an online MBA before I joined JWMI. I thought I lost the zeal to be self-disciplined to get through the courses. I was not sure how useful communication and networking would be in an online MBA. The tools like Blackboard, discussion boards, professor accessibility, Expert of Practice videos, student support resources, and online collaboration made it a fun and fantastic learning experience. I can say with confidence that the JWMI program does work. The scheduling, the scoring principles, and the professor’s coaching and mentorship have helped me to remain on course.
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR MOST REWARDING EXPERIENCE IN THE PROGRAM?
The most rewarding experience has been learning new business knowledge. The wealth of relevant information shared throughout the program is practical and applicable to the day-to-day job. That is the key differentiator. It is not textual learning.
HOW DID YOU NAVIGATE JOB, FAMILY, AND WORK? WHAT STRATEGIES DID YOU IMPLEMENT TO GET IT DONE?
It was challenging to navigate job, family, and work, especially as I had a two-year-old demanding son at the time. The key was planning. I tried to stick to a schedule. I started the course week on Sunday and aimed to submit my discussion questions and assignments at least one day ahead. It allowed some buffer time in case there was any last-minute change of plans. The professors are very accommodating and work with students when work or other commitments come up that could affect their ability to complete the assignment successfully.
PLEASE SHARE ANY ADVICE FOR NEW STUDENTS EMBARKING ON THE MBA JOURNEY.
My advice to new students is that the Jack Welch MBA is a life-transforming journey and an experience that you will never regret. If you want to stand out in the crowd and differentiate yourself, then go for it! You will enjoy the JWMI curriculum. Diamonds are made under pressure, and nothing valuable comes easy.
Connect with Sugato Sarkar on Linkedin
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