Meet London Business School’s MBA Class Of 2020

Margaret Millea Walsh   

London Business School

I’m amazed by neuroscience but like to be in the thick of things in business.”

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have five very freckled siblings, and we could rival the Weasleys for arguments over the “good” breakfast cereal. I like to think I built some resilience and negotiation skills early in life, trying to talk my way out from under a wrestling pile of brothers. It also taught a bit of humility when even close relatives had to ask, “which one are you?”

Undergraduate School and Major: Psychology, University of Notre Dame

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Director, Client Consulting at Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My proudest moment to date is the day I was able to promote my first mentee. I first joined the company as a neurophysiologist in the lab and discovered that the “lab” and “consulting” teams had little collaboration, with separate office locations. Recognizing that there were no formal opportunities to advance on the “lab” track, I began offering help to consultants during my breaks and evenings to learn through apprenticeship, and eventually applied for an open position on their team. I encountered some doubts because my background was “science,” not “business.” I redoubled my efforts and proved in time that my unorthodox background was not a liability, but an asset.

After I earned trust among the team, I became a vocal advocate for training and career development of other lab members. I recruited and trained a motivated and talented lab member who I was eventually allowed to hire as our client portfolio expanded. Working together, we created cross-training opportunities and developed mentoring relationships across teams. As a result, our team became more industrious and inventive, leading to more opportunities with clients, and a stronger business performance. Though the financial milestones have certainly made me cheer, nothing has been more rewarding than coaching; the fact that my mentees were initially underestimated by others has made it that much sweeter to watch them succeed.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Diverse – I haven’t met any American classmates (aside from my husband) yet.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? My husband and I wanted the added challenge and adventure of the global experience. It’s easy and tempting for us to take a U.S. centric perspective to business, but it’s not only fair, but also practical, to understand cultural and political situations globally.  It’s also a personal challenge to be in a different country. Just figuring out the washing machine took us some time.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Social impact clubs – such as Impact Consulting, Impact Investing, etc

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I am inspired by the growth I witnessed in my six years at Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience – both in terms of tool advancement and the impact it had on an industry. I want to see new applications of neuroscience, including applications with a social benefit. I didn’t know how exactly to accomplish this, so I am pursuing an MBA to fill the gaps of my knowledge and skills. I wasn’t sure if I would be a competitive candidate, and I didn’t know any women who had done a two-year program. In the face of my fear and uncertainty, my husband has had faith in me, and encouraged me to take the leap.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? My mother taught me that educating yourself is never a wasted investment. Being practical, my husband and I also created some sheets based on the income data provided by the school and some projected income data we estimated for ourselves.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Wharton, Fuqua, Kellogg, and IESE

How did you determine your fit at various schools? My husband and I did the process together, so the schools had to have features that worked for each of us. We did research online, talked to former and current students, and used the interview process to gauge the program, culture, and fit.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I am not sure I can choose one moment. Having great mentors has shaped me. One example is my high school AP Biology teacher. She inspired my interest in neuroscience, and taught that life (biology) is beautiful, but the world has its problems. She believes that more female CEOs, female scientists, and female politicians can help solve the problems. After I moved away, I visited to attend her retirement party, and she came to my grandpa’s funeral, and my wedding.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I would like to build upon new uses and applications of neuroscience. Plan A is to do this back at Nielsen if they are open to the growth.

Where do you see yourself in five years? My long term goal is to lead an organization or division fueled by neuroscience innovation; to use this position to help drive research that benefits human interest.

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