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Vice President Business Development & Strategy
Almo Pro AV
Program/Concentration: Jack Welch MBA
TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOB RESPONSIBILITIES AT Almo Pro AV?
As VP of Business Development and Strategy, I forecast trends that shape our business and industry, recommend new company initiatives, and lead revenue-generating activities through our business development team in partnership with sales, marketing, product management, and vendors.
HOW HAS THE JWMI CURRICULUM HELPED YOU IN YOUR CAREER
The Jack Welch MBA program provided me the tools for effective leadership, the skills to decide where we need to go, and the executive presence to motivate our team to execute. My role and responsibilities grew substantially while at JWMI. While in the program, senior leadership asked me to serve on a six-person task force to generate ideas for new directions of our parent company, and the Board of Directors invited us to present at a meeting. Shortly before graduating, I received a promotion to Vice President of Business Development and Strategy, responsible for influencing our division’s direction while overseeing a group of eighteen Business Development Managers.
While at JWMI, I pioneered a new initiative where our sales VPs were skeptical we could succeed, and now the CEO wants to build on our success as a part of our company’s future focus. Recently, I proposed a newly created position, even though we are in a hiring freeze. My EVP and CEO found enough value in my proposal that they approved the new role, which now reports to me, and my job responsibilities expanded accordingly. These successes are attributable to the leadership, communications, and change management skills I gained from my Jack Welch MBA.
DID YOU FIND THE CURRICULUM WAS IMMEDIATELY APPLICABLE? PLEASE EXPLAIN.:
I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly the JWMI courses applied to my work. Early in the program, I found that as I read the weekly material, it directly related to something I faced at work the week before. Or, I would experience something at work that surprisingly tied to what we had just covered in class. As such, I found myself trying to stay one week ahead because I wanted to ensure I had vital skills to address work that week. At the risk of sounding trite, the timing of the relevance was, at times, almost uncanny. In every class, we lived “Learn it on Monday. Apply it on Tuesday.”
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 program was far more challenging and rewarding than I originally anticipated. I have an undergrad degree in business and was unsure how much more I would learn from this program. Perhaps I would read some materials, take some tests, and that would be it? I also wondered how much productive interaction could happen with other online students relative to an on-ground program.
I learned so much more at JWMI than I thought I would. JWMI is not a “read it and take a test” program. It is an in-depth and engaging leadership program that requires a commitment to success—and is worth the effort. The process of writing the discussion questions (DQ) posts, in particular, provided the opportunity to synthesize and internalize the concepts. Additionally, the DQs provided a forum more engaging than the typical classroom environment while fostering friendships and professional relationships. They also offered the opportunity to apply candor and receive feedback when examining differing viewpoints.
The Expert of Practice videos provided an expanded perspective on the content with examples of real-world applications across various industries. At the same time, the faculty brought their views and experience, with a strong interest in student success.
JWMI is by far the best investment I have ever made in myself. If I had to do it all over again, I would not change a thing, except maybe enroll sooner.
HOW DID YOU NAVIGATE JOB, FAMILY, AND WORK? WHAT STRATEGIES DID YOU IMPLEMENT TO GET IT DONE?
The support of my family was vital to navigate the program successfully. I read the upcoming weekly materials on Saturday, completed the weekly assignments and DQ responses on Sunday, watched the EOP and videos on Monday after work, worked on the initial DQ posts on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, and started DQ responses and weekly assignments on Thursdays. As such, I missed most Sundays and evenings with my family for three years. While the work was demanding and rewarding, my wife and children made the most significant sacrifices.
Being clear on expectations and the opportunity cost going into the program was essential to maintaining a healthy work/life/school balance. When I was not working on projects for school or my work, I tried hard to stay focused on my family and maintain a presence without distraction from work or school, which WAS not always easy. For example, my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah (a major religious milestone and family event) coincided with my first paper’s due date in my first JWMI class. I committed to my family to focus on preparing for the Bat Mitzvah until it was over. Thirty-minutes after a memorable family event, I sequestered myself in my office to start and complete the paper on the same day.
While I advise against waiting until the last minute to start projects, the experience taught me the value of focusing on one thing at a time; when with family, focus on them; when at work, concentrate on work. If I had allowed myself distractions between the multiple elements in my life, I would not have succeeded with any. Instead, the school experience was superb, I grew at work, and my family relationships strengthened while balancing multiple life demands.
Please share any advice for new students embarking on the MBA journey.
My advice to incoming students is that you will get out of the program what you put in. Plan your schedule carefully, take into account others’ needs, such as family, and make time to take care of your health. Use the tools, such as Grammarly and the communications coaches, and make sure to read the rubrics. Most importantly, give time and thought to your DQs. They may seem like a little task, with each one providing only a small portion of your overall grade. However, they provide substantial benefit by allowing you to synthesize and internalize the information from the program before application at work. Before I started the program, our CEO told me that the most significant value in an MBA is not what you learn but the impact on how you think. The DQs and the written assignments are the opportunities for you to actualize that change. Embrace them, cherish them—you may even find you miss the stimulating interaction when the program is over.
Connect with Rob Ziv on Linkedin
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