ON POLITICS AND POLICY…
Chances are, Lucia Donnangelo absorbed similar lessons. The London Business School MBA candidate was enjoying a comfortable living as a research economist at CERES, Uruguay’s top think tank. And then her boss, Ernesto Talvi, decided to run for President – and she became his policy director. Here, she led a 300 member team to build Talvi’s policies in 50 different areas. While Talvi ultimately lost, the experience proved life-changing for Donnangelo.
“I was entrusted to lead and, in doing so, refined my personal and professional goals. I’m grateful to have met so many people driven by the desire to contribute and impact a country’s development. It is gratifying to know that this policy unit is still active, with some of its members in government roles.”
Sometimes, it can be just a kind word from the right person can make all the difference. That was the case for the Yale School of Management’s Ethan Everett Boswell. At the International Monetary Fund, he worked alongside Christine Lagarde to produce presentations to finance ministers and central bank governors around the world – the kind that help shape global policy.
“Mario Draghi, the former president of the European Central Bank, called the presentations “fantastic” and “done with a professionalism I’ve never seen in any other institution,” so it feels good to know they were memorable,” Boswell writes.
REASONS VARY FOR RETURNING TO SCHOOL
Despite such access and accomplishment, the Class of 2022 still streamed back to campus to pursue their MBAs. Roberto Chavez Flores, for one, intended to pursue the executive MBA route. However, he headed to Kellogg’s one-year progam after COVID-19 shut down many of his real estate projects in Mexico. “I quickly realized the impact an MBA could have at such critical time, allowing me to accelerate out of the gates when the initial impact subsides.”
The University of Texas’ Caroline Peterson also shouldered heavy responsibilities early in her career in tech. Her career path also gave her an inside look at both a senior executive’s role and the demands of navigating large and diverse organizations through VUCA environments. That made an MBA degree an immediate requirement over an eventual goal for Peterson.
“I quickly realized that the most effective leaders didn’t just command exceptional business acumen, but also commanded a room and inspired teams to execute on a vision. My most recent role as Chief of Staff to the CEO helped me develop an appreciation for the complexity of managing a growing organization on the executive level.”
Bo Chan’s interest, she says, was piqued when she moved into management – and realized she needed to expand far beyond her area of expertise. “I realized that to be an impactful and compassionate manager, I needed to broaden my skillset and knowledge to lead effectively and confidently,” writes the MIT Sloan first-year. “While I had spent the last five years honing my skills in brand and customer marketing, there were aspects of the business that I needed more exposure to such as operations and finance. Without a thorough understanding, it was impossible to represent both my team and be an effective changemaker within my organization.”
DIFFERENT PATHS TO PREPARATION
The Class of 2022 also adopted a variety of strategies to prepare for the MBA rigors. Georgetown University’s Mehmet Kaan Serdar has spent the summer working closely with school advisors on career-related items like resume and networking strategies. He has also supplemented these efforts by taking online courses on quant areas like finance, accounting, economics, and statistics. Akhil Pawar took on a secondment with the World Economic Forum to increase his exposure to social enterprise before London Business School. To hit the ground running McCombs’ Caroline Peterson enlisted a career coach.
“My coach helped me reflect on my prior experience, identify my strengths, define my values, and roadmap the next few chapters of my professional (and personal) life. These exercises have already proven invaluable as I prep for interviews and fill out my schedule with extracurriculars.”
Then again, Leo Flores decided to take time off before embarking on the Rice MBA. “I know business school is going to be a rewarding but intense experience, so I’ve taken the time to re-center myself as I enter this new stage in life. I spent this summer relocating from the Bay Area to Houston, so I’ve taken some time to settle into the swimming pool lifestyle!”
FACING DOWN UNCERTAINTY AND FEAR
Chances are, Flores is paddling in the deep end as the core coursework now kicks in. Indeed, there will be plenty of late nights and doubts for the Class of 2022. That happened to NYU Stern’s Myryah Nicholas, who wondered if she could make it in New York City – let alone the beauty industry. That’s when she came across an advertisement…and reflected back on her original purpose — and knew everything would eventually turn out right.
“I stumbled across a Mother’s Day billboard that read, “I didn’t go nine months without chardonnay for you to hate your job.” While the sighting initially provided a good laugh, the message stuck with me. I knew I owed it to the people who supported me and, more importantly, myself to pivot into a career path I loved. On the plane ride home, I vowed to take the risks I needed to achieve my goals. Four months later, I was living in New York—the epicenter of the beauty industry—and one step closer to making my dreams come true.”
Yes, the Class of 2022 arrives to a VUCA world, replete with rivalries and riots, lethal disease and economic disintegration. Who would blame them if they responded by shying away, hesitant to engage and afraid to commit. Frank Thomas was once afraid too when he took a gap year after high school. The Emory MBA moved across the world to New Zealand, “leaving every person and place I know to start an entirely new chapter of my life.” It turned out to be his shining moment, as uncertainty gave way to possibility, changing him into the “fiercely independent, adventurous person” he is today.”
Now, the process repeats anew for Thomas, as he joins his peers in the MBA Class of 2022. This time, he knows what to expect – and he can’t wait for the journey to begin. “I’ve left a wonderful company and wonderful friends to start from scratch, in a city I don’t know, during a particularly volatile time in the world. It is scary, but as my time in New Zealand – and elsewhere – taught me, uncertainty and fear are the dysfunctional parents of opportunity and adventure.”
To read in-depth profiles from MBA candidates from 30 top business schools, go to page 4.
DON’T MISS: Meet The Class of 2021: The Complete Collection