JWMI profiles students and alumni weekly 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.
Business Development Manager,
Saint-Gobain Construction Products
Program/Concentration: Jack Welch MBA
PLEASE SHARE MORE ABOUT YOUR PROFESSIONAL ROLE AND RESPONSIBLITIES.:
I am currently a Business Development Manager at Saint-Gobain Construction Products. I manage sales activities & relationships, business development processes (including project engagements and related stakeholders), and local sales administration activities for the specified Southern African markets, and drive implementation of business growth strategies to meet revenue and gross profit targets for the business while prioritizing products from South Africa, Build Ezee and other plants in Sub-Saharan Africa.
WHY WERE YOU LOOKING TO GET AN MBA?:
As a lifelong learner, the MBA made the most sense in terms of a master’s degree to pursue, being that I work in sales in the manufacturing industry. Before starting my MBA, I was always curious about business school and how much more it would enhance my current work experience. Equally, an MBA would balance/iron out my background in architecture – architecture school equipped me differently, and I wanted to study/focus on an advanced degree that would provide me with a sound understanding of business and leadership acumen.
HOW HAS THE JWMI CURRICULUM HELPED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
I got promoted from Territory Manager to Business Development Manager 3 months into my MBA program. My previous role was not a management role, so the transition was timely, and I am grateful for the lessons that I picked and applied as I transitioned to my new role. With the new role, I am responsible for a team of 5, so the People Management course has come in handy. I dismissed one person within six months of my new role. It was challenging, but thanks to lessons around candor and the importance of hiring right the first time, I knew what to look out for with future hires.
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 VIA DQ BOARDS, EOP VIDEOS, FACULTY ETC?:
The JWMI online MBA exceeded my expectations in that it felt nothing like remote learning. Even with the program being asynchronous, not once did I feel disconnected. The weekly DQs, faculty engagement, weekly emails, and EOP videos enriched the experience and the overall community building. I did not feel the time difference – it helped at times to be 6 or 7 hours ahead in that I would have a bit more time before submission deadlines.
HOW DID YOU NAVIGATE JOB, FAMILY, AND WORK? WHAT STRATEGIES DID YOU IMPLEMENT TO GET IT DONE?:
After receiving my acceptance into the MBA program, I cut back significantly on all social gatherings, family obligations, and taking on new assignments at work. I communicated this change with my family and stakeholders at work, then decided that nothing would come in the way of attaining my goal of graduating in 18 months.
I doubled up on my course load and made it a point to fully immerse myself in the coursework on weekends and weekdays after work, resulting in little to no sleep on some days, especially on the weeks when assignments were due. As soon as I hit “submit,” I would tackle the following week’s work, and wherever I had free time, I would read ahead to stay on top of my course load. I used my free time to read, tackle assignments, respond to DQs, or email my professors.
WAS THERE A PARTICULAR PROFESSOR OR MEMBER OF THE STAFF THAT YOU FELT HELPED YOU TO EXCEL? PLEASE ELABORATE.:
Professor Bruce Smith illuminated my love for Business Analytics; he underscored the importance of speaking with data as a leader. Professor Smith encouraged me to keep going with my research topic though it aligned more with the ESG side of the business, yielding little to no monetary ROI. I was encouraged because only some things we do in business have an economic value attached to them. Sometimes the projects we take on have a more significant impact on our environment, which is also substantial.
In summary, don’t let anyone talk you out of your ideas. Any idea can see the light of day if substantiated with tangible data. Speak with data, always.
IN JUST A FEW WORDS, DESCRIBE WHAT “LEADERSHIP” MEANS TO YOU.:
Leadership embodies trust, using one’s voice, asking questions continuously, and being open to learning, unlearning, and relearning while being uncomfortable with not knowing or not having all the answers all the time.
PLEASE SHARE ANY ADVICE FOR NEW STUDENTS EMBARKING ON THE MBA JOURNEY.:
Be open to being challenged. Do away with preconceived notions of what business school is or isn’t, and engage with the content and classmates. There is much to learn from the course content, professors, and classmates. Time flies. Before you know it, you are done with the program and ask yourself, “What’s next?” Answer the questions that are yet to be asked. Remain curious. That is how you learn.
Connect with Gao Molosiwa on LinkedIn
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