MBA Class Of 2015: ‘My Biggest Lessons From Business School’

Alexander Brown

Alexander Brown

Leadership Comes In Many Forms

“One of the biggest lessons that I gained from business school was how to lead with integrity. As a student leader, I was confronted with many unexpected challenges, some of which were personally sensitive to my peers and me. Throughout my business school experience, I worked on becoming the most intent and supportive leader I could be. I recognized that in order to be effective I needed to listen, understand and appreciate the concerns that were brought to my attention. Everyone interprets life events and conflict differently. What may personally move me, may have little or no impact on the next person. As a leader, how I perceived the importance of an issue is somewhat irrelevant in making sure that the person I am interacting with is heard and assisted in the fairest way possible.

I learned that objectivity and acceptance are incredibly important. Everyone has the right to enjoy their experience equally and no one has the right to diminish another’s experience. My experience showed me that I don’t need to compromise on my values to be effective.” — Alexander Brown / Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

“Working on the conference really helped me develop my leadership skills.  Each member of my team was accomplished and had led teams of their own, so it was important for me to make them feel like they had ownership of their role, while balancing the fact that, in the end, I was the one responsible for the end result.” — Stephanie Landry / Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Ramanuja Atur

Ramanuja Atur

“The biggest lesson I have gained from business school is people management. This is a very important skill set to possess because most of the work in organizations is accomplished by a group of employees who need to be managed effectively. The majority of my course work in business school involved working in teams. Moreover, as the President of Asian MBA Association, I led the organization of several large scale events that involved managing multiple teams working on various tasks. One needs to gain a thorough understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each other in the team to be successful. Expertise in one’s domain is different compared to the skill set required to drive a team to pursue a solution that one thinks is feasible. Building relationships and working at a personal level to accomplish professional tasks has been my biggest learning.” — Ramanuja Atur / Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

Don’t Underestimate Networking

“It’s all about who you know. Using the Booth network has helped our company get new customers, get new business partners, and get funding – all things that have been critical to our success.” –Katlin Smith / University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

Robyn Peters

Robyn Peters

“The biggest lesson I gained from my time at Mays is what that overused, ambiguous phrase “Your network is your net worth” really means and how to use it. The Aggie Network is over 300,000 strong and although that can seem intimidating, leveraging the right contacts appropriately can make a significant difference in outcomes – a job interview, a critical data point, etc. Also, I’ve learned not to reach out to my network only when I need something but to foster those relationships on a personal level as well.” — Robyn Peters / Texas A&M University, Mays Business School


Soft Skills Often Trump Hard Skills

“It’s all about empathy. The best teachers, innovators, leaders, negotiators, marketers, managers, facilitators, sellers, they all excel at deeply understanding other people’s needs and motivations. I truly believe that empathy is the most underestimated and overlooked leadership skill. — Elena Mendez Escobar / MIT, Sloan School of Management

Nadine Payne

Nadine Payne

“Core skill building aside, the biggest lesson from business school has been realizing the importance of emotional intelligence to becoming a leader. This concept was emphasized class after class and through speaker series and many esteemed campus guests. Some of the most critical skills of a good business leader are ability to self-motivate, self-manage and be empathetic. Other skills are taught that will make someone a good risk officer or brand manager. But the truly exceptional leaders are those who are able to inspire and drive teams and organizations to success.” — Nadine Payne / University of Maryland, Smith School of Business

“I learned that positivity and determination, when combined, can yield some pretty amazing results.” — Taylor Mallard / University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“Never underestimate the importance of interpersonal dynamics. Prof. Heidi Brooks’ course on the topic changed the way I work with others and contribute to teams. She opened my eyes to how even the smallest behaviors and character traits can have a huge impact on others.”- Benjamin Freedman / Yale School of Management

More To Business Than The Bottom Line

“That business is about so much more than just the financial bottom line. Business is about generating value, which can come in many forms—economic growth, infrastructure improvement, employment opportunity, engineering innovation, or greater community interaction, to name a few. It can serve as an incubator for community development, and for post-conflict societies in particular, business can expedite the transition to stability. Business is a tool for development and progress, one that I think is often overlooked.” — Elizabeth Owens / University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

Stay Consistent

“[I learned] the importance of consistency. It’s not good enough to act a certain way 98% of the time, because people will remember the 2% of the time that your actions were inconsistent.” — Geoff Nykin / Washington University, Olin Business School

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