Ten Questions - Sarah Senyo

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Sarah Senyo is an MBA student at Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business in the US. Before beginning the programme, she attended a management leaders for tomorrow boot camp, which she says greatly prepared her for business school. It taught her more about herself and her different career interests.

Ms Senyo grew up and studied in Washington before moving to Smeal College of Business at Penn State University, to study for a degree in finance and international business. She has also worked as a contract analyst, financial analyst and business operations manager. On graduation, she will start working for PricewaterhouseCoopers as a senior associate (in advisory mergers & acquisitions).

In her spare time, Ms Senyo enjoys travelling, dining and movies.

1. When did you know you wanted to study this particular course?

I realised that I wanted to study business in high school. I wanted to develop skills that could be employed in my personal life as well as professionally and decided to pursue a degree in finance and international business, so that I could learn to manage money. However, I believe that the skills I can attain through an MBA are applicable in any setting and that business fits my personality of being involved in commerce in order to enhance the world around me. More particularly, I am interested in utilising general management supplemented by my financial experience to successfully develop and implement strategic business plans for firms.

2. What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher?

The best piece of advice that I have been given by a professor is to seek out what you want to do in life now and not wait, because you should not miss an opportunity if it is present and you really want it. This advice aided me in taking a risk and trying something new when I had the opportunity, if I did not pursue it then, I may never have had another chance.

3. What is the strangest thing you have ever done when studying?

The strangest thing I have ever done while studying is probably fall asleep while sitting up (which actually isn’t that strange). I would study all night long through the morning and wake up with a book and my computer in my lap and at that point I knew it was time to go to bed. I also study when I go to the hairdresser. Multi-tasking is essential for business school.

4. What is the last book you read?

The last book I read is Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. As part of my MBA programme the students are required to complete an international consulting project. So I decided to read a book about travelling during my trip to China. I enjoyed aspects of this book that allowed me to reflect and think about the person I am and who I want to be.

5. Who is your ideal professor?

My ideal professor is one that is able to demonstrate the relevance of the material to the real world. I have found that in business schools, students read a lot of case studies and analyse them, but applying those frameworks to the real world is rarely done. I enjoy learning from professors that provide current articles that pertain to class discussions and that give you the tools you need to succeed. I also enjoy learning from professors who have worked and bring their experiences to bear in the classroom. A “famous” professor that exemplifies this is Madeleine Albright (the first woman to become a US Secretary of State). A professor I admire and who has aided me a great deal in my business school career is Prof Gary Blemaster.

6. What is your biggest lesson learnt?

My biggest lesson learnt during my time in business school is to not let my experiences change me as much as they should aid my personal and professional development. My experiences should help shape me but not allow me to lose sight of my values as I continue to grow.

7. What advice would you give to women in business?

As a woman in business, my advice is to not to lose sight of what you want to achieve and continue to strive for your goals both during and after graduate school. I have noticed that some people started with strong ambition and it seems that after the MBA experience they lose steam, however there is something that brought them to graduate school and continuing with that drive will aid them in reaching their professional goals. In addition, it is always important to be yourself and not change yourself because of what other people expect, be able to stand your ground and not let people run over you.

8. If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?

If I could do things differently, I would certainly research career opportunities before school. I would also look to identify opportunities early on, even those that occur before business school, to best position myself for roles that I would like to pursue. Once business school starts there is little time to complete this research while pursuing internships, given all the other aspects of business school. In addition, I would like to create a schedule and plan for maintaining strength throughout the programme. There were times where I had more energy than others and I wish I could have maintained consistent energy levels throughout the two years.

9. What is your life philosophy?

My life philosophy is to appreciate and enjoy life. We only have one so we should make the most of it while having fun and being happy. I am inspired by people who control their own lives and do not limit themselves to the expectations of society. I am inspired by people who focus on being happy and pursue opportunities that make them happy. I am also inspired by events that have advanced society and continue to improve the lives and well-being of people.

10. What are your future plans?

My plans are to succeed in my future role at PricewaterhouseCoopers. I am very excited about my role and the transition from business school. I plan to use this new phase of my life to contribute to the world around me, focusing on community service activities that I enjoy; particularly education in low-income communities. I also want to learn from the mistakes that I made after undergraduate school, where I thought that I had done everything I was supposed to do by graduating. I realise now how many more opportunities the world has to offer and I do want to take advantage of them. Most importantly, I do not want to lose sight of my friends and family as they have continuously provided me with support throughout my life and aided me in getting through the “pressure” that I have faced as part of my ambitious goals.

Interview by Charlotte Clarke

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