In reflecting on the past two years of my MBA experience, I am met with a flood of stories, memories, and key learnings. There is so much I could talk about from the past two years, but there are four key areas that come to mind as I think back on my time as an MBA candidate in Madison:
- Company Experience
As I sit down to write this, I feel compelled to channel an expert communicator and one of my favorite leaders—Winston Churchill. During Churchill’s time as the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, he led a nation through adversity using powerful communication skills. I hope to leverage some of Churchill’s words to help me tell the story of my MBA journey as I navigated learning, friendships, and adversity.
“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.” — Winston Churchill
As someone who made a complete career 180° turn from an Air Traffic Controller to a marketer and a brand manager, I knew it was imperative that when I did stumble over truths not to hurry off as if nothing had happened. This is easier said than done, in business school you are constantly flooded with information and key takeaways from courses. While I didn’t catch them all, here are a few of the truths I was able to take with me.
- Strategy: Make sure you understand the true, root cause of any business problem
- Pricing: Set prices based on what the consumer is willing to pay for a product or service, not by how much it costs the business
- Accounting: Accounting is the language of business, to be a successful manager you need to speak the language
The coursework and working with diverse groups on a daily basis were a challenge, but it provided an opportunity to immerse myself in the material and learn from both the professors and my classmates.
“I’ve taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.” — Winston Churchill
The fondest memories of my MBA experience were the moments I shared with classmates. The drinks and laughs shared at TAPS (Thursdays After Professional Studies), study sessions in the Brand Center, and sharing heavy appetizers during networking events are just a few of the moments that shaped the relationships I have built over the last two years. While I have learned so much in the classroom, I have learned just as much outside of the classroom from my fellow classmates. Their unique professional experience and cultural differences enriched my MBA experience in ways I didn’t expect. On an almost daily basis, I felt lucky to be surrounded by such a well-rounded, intelligent group of people.
I can safely say that I have made lifelong friends over the past two years. I am proud to have the opportunity to walk across the stage at commencement with each and every one of them. While I know these opportunities will become few and far between, I look forward to the moments we can share a laugh and a beer at Vintage reflecting on the good times we had together in Madison.
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” — Winston Churchill
My summer internship provided an opportunity for me to lean on some of the key learnings from my first year. While my perspective on the world of business and marketing changed and evolved over the first year, having an opportunity to apply these skills in a real-world environment only provided more occasions for me to grow both personally and professionally. After 10 weeks, I could say that I had changed greatly, but was still far from perfect. I learned so much about storytelling, channel management, leveraging data and insights, navigating a virtual work environment, and more. I was able to build on what I had learned in my first year, but more importantly, the experience highlighted areas of weakness or opportunities to improve, this realization shaped the courses I chose as electives in my second year in order to fill those knowledge gaps.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” — Winston Churchill
COVID-19 has brought dark times upon all of us since last spring, some much more than others. I can say that I have been fortunate to have only faced the fear of the unknown as opposed to facing the tragedy directly as so many have. As MBAs we were afraid for the safety of our families, what the job market would look like when we graduated, and if we would even have an internship in-between our first and second years. We no longer could participate in-person in our classes, gone were the days of happy hours and TAPS, and even our internships went fully virtual. However, these difficult times provided opportunities for growth and lessons on how to deal with adversity both in our careers and in our personal lives. For us that have made it through the MBA experience during COVID-19, we are now armed with the grit and agility that comes with facing difficult situations. While this wasn’t how I envisioned by MBA experience, I can say with confidence that I am stronger both personally and professionally after having made it through.
“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” — Winston Churchill
I feel incredibly fortunate for my time in the UW-Madison Full-Time MBA program over the last two years. I walk away with a much deeper understanding of the world of business and marketing, a group of friends and peers that I am proud to associate with and have learned so much from, and a newfound ability to navigate adversity. I am proud to join the group of Badger Alumni that have done so much to give back to the program and its students; I look forward to following in their footsteps. On, Wisconsin!