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Winning Voices: Harry Lee, Insurance Agent, American Income Life: AO

Winning Voices: Harry Lee, Insurance Agent, American Income Life: AO

Harry Lee
Insurance Agent
American Income Life: AO
Program/Concentration: Jack Welch MBA

WHY WERE YOU LOOKING TO GET AN MBA?:

Although education has always been important to me, an MBA was not even a consideration initially. I obtained an Associate of Culinary Arts after serving in the Army and felt that a Bachelor of Business was necessary to round out my skills as a business professional. In my last year at Strayer, I was asked if I had ever considered pursuing an MBA. I simply asked myself, “Why not?” I explored many schools to find the best fit, and it consistently came back to Strayer and JWMI.

I have always valued striving to be the best leader possible. I couldn’t be happier with my decision and the leadership principles ingrained in us during my MBA journey. Being a Welch leader holds significant meaning for me.

HOW HAS THE JWMI CURRICULUM HELPED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?

“Learn today and apply tomorrow” is a mantra that all JWMI leaders carry. Incredibly, I could leverage work experience to navigate through projects and assignments, subsequently bringing valuable lessons back to work and becoming a better leader. We have the privilege of learning from individuals who are actively engaged in their careers every day. They have not only been where we are but also where we are headed. The real-life experience imparted by the professors is truly invaluable.

Having the ability to stand in a boardroom or executive meeting with insights that contribute meaningfully to the team holds great significance. The knowledge gained is applicable in real-world settings at any given time.

DID YOU FIND THE CURRICULUM WAS IMMEDIATELY APPLICABLE? PLEASE EXPLAIN.:

The curriculum was immediately applicable to everyday work. When you start discussing a topic, and your leadership can observe the growth in you, it holds significant meaning. You are learning from individuals who aren’t merely going through a lesson plan; they apply it in their personal lives and have experienced being in the hot seats. The professors can empathize with working adults and genuinely care about each student, not only in the classroom but also in their careers.

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?:

An online program was the only option for me working a demanding schedule. I can attest that JWMI is not just a degree factory. They challenge you as a leader and student and always look to pull a little more out of you. I was blown away by how much the professors care about the student and the person behind the student. There were times when the work, school, and family life balance became overwhelming, but the professors were always there to build you up and work with you to get things done with your best effort.

HOW DID YOU NAVIGATE JOB, FAMILY, AND WORK? WHAT STRATEGIES DID YOU IMPLEMENT TO GET IT DONE?:

PRIORITIZE! Working a schedule where you work anywhere from 84 to 98 hours a week away from home can be enough by itself. Adding on a challenging MBA program and trying to balance time to spend when you are home with the family becomes at times a circus act. It took dedication, and good old-fashioned want to. To be successful, you have to want it. To achieve this, you have to put in the work. There were nights when I worked until 2 am to get assignments completed before a deadline, so I could concentrate on work the next day. There were times I was home and up late getting an assignment done and then getting up early to take my daughter to school. Being willing to make a sacrifice today for success tomorrow is what carried me through it. You have to look at what is important at the moment and get it done. I can’t go without saying it takes a great support system as well. My wife was the best in the process. When I would be so tired, it was the smile or simple hug that reminded me why I was doing it.

WAS THERE A PARTICULAR PROFESSOR OR MEMBER OF THE STAFF THAT YOU FELT HELPED YOU TO EXCEL? PLEASE ELABORATE.:

I can’t single out a professor without acknowledging how great all of my professors were. I learned valuable lessons from every class that I took on my MBA journey. Just like you may have many coaches in your career, I have had some great “coaches” at JWMI. I have to say that Professor Bruce Smith is the coach that put the finishing touches on me. Many times a race can be exhausting. I worked through my JWMI journey with a statement: “Finish Strong!” There were times that Capstone felt like it was uphill all the way because of things going on at work. Professor Smith was always there telling me that I was doing great and almost there. I can be my own worst critic at times. Sometimes it takes the leader who simply says “You’re Fine.” Thank You, Professor Smith!

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR MOST REWARDING EXPERIENCE IN THE PROGRAM?:

Throughout my Strayer journey, I was honored to join several Honor Societies: The Society of College Leadership and Advancement, The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and Alpha Sigma Lambda, and served 4 years as an officer in Golden Key. I had a goal to join Alpha Chi and there were times that I didn’t think I would achieve it. Through dedication, I achieved that goal. I would say that was very rewarding and gave me the energy to finish strong. The most rewarding thing was how much I have grown as a leader. Jack teaches us that before you become a leader, it is all about growing yourself, when you become a leader it is all about growing others. I am honored to be able to call myself a Jack Welch Leader!

IN JUST A FEW WORDS, DESCRIBE WHAT “LEADERSHIP” MEANS TO YOU.:

Leadership is the most selfless thing a person can be. Leadership is walking the walk, not talking the talk. Team members are drawn to leadership. You can’t make yourself a leader. How to treat others and the example you give is what makes you a leader. While the team may be the vehicle to win the race, the leader is the engine that powers the car. Just like a bad engine can ruin the vehicle, a bad leader can hold everyone else back. Leadership is pouring into others and preparing them to become the next leaders. Leaders take their teams to places they never thought possible. Leaders lead others to follow.

PLEASE SHARE ANY ADVICE FOR NEW STUDENTS EMBARKING ON THE MBA JOURNEY.:

Never put off tomorrow what you can achieve today. When you have problems, reach out to your professors and utilize your academic advisors. You can gain great insight from building relationships with your fellow students. I was able to learn so much from my fellow students as well. JWMI is one of the most diverse groups of leaders I have ever seen. They are from all over the world and have a wealth of knowledge. Never allow yourself to become overwhelmed. Take a breath and push a little more and you will come through with growth you never thought possible. No matter where you begin the journey or what happens along the way, it is how you finish. FINISH STRONG!


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