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Brazilian. University of North Carolina: Kenan-Flagler, MBA, graduates May 2019
What’s the best thing about the MBA so far?
The network experience. From day one you need to count on your peers to achieve your goals, as their perspectives will always bring new ideas and help you navigate different problems. The most successful MBA students are the ones who connect the most with different people and get more involved, even by doing simple things like organising a party or running a club. When I started applying for jobs, I reached out to alumni at consultancies to understand more about their company culture and how I should train myself, as every company has a different style. When I graduate in May I will join consultants McKinsey in Chicago — we have a lot of alumni there. One of my mentors who works there is going to help me with moving to the city and make sure I feel welcome in the office. I am grateful for the core values of community that are taken very seriously here.
American. Columbia, MBA, graduated 2017. Co-founder and chief executive, Stratyfy, New York
If you had to improve one thing about the MBA, what would it be?
Recruiting often starts when you are only a month into business school, especially for more traditional career paths. That’s a shame. It makes people choose what they want to do way too early. One of the most beneficial things I did during business school was explore — opening my mind up to new ideas, ways of thinking, new approaches. I was able to do that because I was not looking to go into consulting or banking. I spent 12 years at JPMorgan before going to Columbia. I wanted to transition into entrepreneurship, but I didn’t know exactly how. I wanted to be in financial technology, and I had very deep financial experience but not in things like operations or marketing. I used to believe successful career paths looked like a straight line. I learnt through hearing successful business leaders that the most interesting careers don’t look anything like that.
German. HKUST, MBA, graduated 2015. Director of digital engagement innovation, Metlife Korea, Seoul
Was the MBA worth the cost?
I was in banking and I wanted to move to Asia. Halfway through the MBA, I came across the employer that I’m with now. Since then I have lived in three different countries, I make a decent amount of money and I’m enjoying life. All of that wouldn’t be there without the MBA. You can do the maths and it works; you can look at satisfaction levels and it works. I moved around a lot post-MBA by design. I started thinking about my career a lot more strategically: I look at what I’m going to get out of a job, beyond the obvious “can I do this?”, so what are my options if it goes well, and what if it doesn’t go well? What’s the next step? It worked out really well for me but people looking at doing an MBA should do their homework on the school. Don’t be that disgruntled person that went to the wrong one and doesn’t get out of it what they had hoped.
Thai. Melbourne Business School, MBA, graduated 2018. Senior manager, AB InBev, Melbourne
What impact has the degree had on your career?
Before I did the MBA my background was in science, so I had very little exposure to business terminology or knowledge of how businesses were run. Now, I work at the drinks company AB InBev on technology-related projects. I worked on a project with the finance department recently and without the MBA, I wouldn’t have had any idea. Even just understanding business terms that everyone uses — the MBA exposes you to that. It also gave me clarity on the impact decisions made at a strategic level have on actions taken at the execution level. The MBA taught me how to deal with ambiguity and the unknown, a skill I use every day at work. My background has nothing to do with my current job, but I am able to deal with the pressures that come as a result of it because I was forced to learn how to do so during the MBA.
Somrudi (Yee) Mekwilaiphan
Thai. Durham Business School, MBA, graduated 2018. Advisory/consultant, Bangkok
What have you learnt from studying abroad?
Living far away from my family, I had to take care of myself and manage my life, for the first time — so time management. Also, English is not my first language, so I had to work harder to read the journal papers and do the assignments. I found some of my Chinese friends tried to do research in Chinese, but I never did research in Thai because it was a chance for me to improve my English. I have made international friends and we still keep in contact. After living abroad for the MBA I feel I have more inspiration to make my working life better than before, and I know I will carry the things I have learnt with me and apply them to my career. At Durham they train you in critical thinking to solve problems; my clients have a lot of problems, so I can advise them on how to improve, to identify the root cause of the problem and I can make a recommendation for the future.
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