What Female Deans Want MBA Women In The Class of 2017 To Know

mba advice women

Sally Blount, dean of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management

Sally Blount


Kellogg School of Management

To the women of the Class of 2017, what is the key piece of advice you have for those who seek to make their mark in business?

“Take the biggest, boldest jobs that you can right out of business school. Book as much brand name credibility and career growth on your resume now as you can, because you’ll have it in the bank to use when you navigate the mid-career marathon years.

“If your goal is a life that combines deep family connection and meaningful work, you’re going to want options in the years when long-term relationships and caregiving roles become focal, when family considerations begin to constrain how you make decisions.

“I know that many big, brand name jobs require long days, late nights and travel. And I know that makes them less appealing to some of you. But the early years are not forever, and while concepts like mission and work/life balance are absolutely important, they shouldn’t be the focus at the start of a career – at least not if you have big ambitions. At the launch, it’s important to think bravely and recognize that your early career experiences set the trajectory for your career. The higher you aim now the farther you can go in the long-run.”

mba advice women

Idalene Kesner, dean of the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University

Idalene Kesner


Kelley School of Business

To the women of the Class of 2017, what is the key piece of advice you have for those who seek to make their mark in business?

“It’s not about “having it all at every moment in your career.”  Rather think of the goal of “having it all over the full cycle of your career.”  This makes balance more achievable and your personal life and professional life more enjoyable.”

What are the hard truths or realities that aspiring business women should be prepared for?

“Women and men approach things differently.  Whether we’re talking about things like problem solving, communications, negotiations, or conflict resolution.  Nevertheless, there are still many people who feel that if you don’t handle things the same way male colleagues handle things, then you’re ineffective.  But, when you do handle things the same way as your male colleagues you’re harsh or overbearing.  As trite as it may sound, it’s always best to just “be yourself,” and use the style and manner that works for you.”

What advice do you wish someone had shared with you about being a successful woman in business?

“The best advice I received was from my parents:  “No one will believe in you and have confidence in you if you don’t believe in yourself and have self-confidence.”

What is your favorite quote or mantra that you live by and you’d like to pass on to women in the Class of 2017?

“Above my mother’s desk was the following quote from Mark Twain:  “I … have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”  If you’re an extreme or excessive planner (as I am), this is a mantra to live by.”

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