Ready to tackle every day armed with her music, ergonomic setup, and a good night’s sleep, Virginia (Executive MBA '13) works as a Strategic Operations and Implementation Leader for startup companies. Generating her motivation from within, she’s forged a career path for herself that she wouldn’t have been able to do before completing the Leavey School of Business’ Executive MBA program in December 2013.
Keeping in mind the best advice she’s ever received, ‘Before it was your passion, it was probably something you knew nothing about. Get engaged in the world. Discover your bliss,’ she’s explored working in several different industries including health & fitness, construction, and now tech, and she’s landed herself in a place where she can effectively and efficiently pursue her career goals wherever they may take her.
We spoke with her about her time at the Leavey School of Business and how her degree has impacted her life and career.
Why were you seeking an advanced degree?
I had hit a ceiling in my role at a non-profit agency and was aware that I couldn’t go any further until I had earned a master’s degree. An MBA was a natural choice for me because I had always been fascinated with learning about and understanding the way in which businesses work.
Why did you choose the Leavey School of Business?
I looked at several MBA programs, both online and traditional, across the country. In the end I chose SCU’s Leavey School of Business for the personal attention from faculty and staff, large network of MBA alumni, fostering of collaboration among peers, and emphasis on technology.
I specifically chose the Executive MBA over the accelerated or evening MBA programs because I liked the schedule of classes, the 17-month cohort experience, and the emphasis on leadership that the program offered.
What was your most memorable class/professor? Why?
The professors in the program are fantastic and the course content is meaningful and useful. If I must choose one that is most memorable, I have to choose Kirthi Kalyanam’s Marketing Management class because that course made me realize that I want to be involved in marketing in future roles. I had no idea how much I love marketing. Previously I had always thought of myself as an operations person.
What kind of experiences inside and outside the classroom were most significant for your education and your growth as a professional?
Between work, school and my personal life, I was so busy on a daily, weekly and monthly basis that I was constantly overwhelmed. In the end, this improved my efficiency skills significantly and taught me to be a master of time management. I can now get an astronomical amount of work done in a short period of time and can plan my schedule to get more tasks completed in a day.
Now that you’re a few years out, how would you say your degree has helped you in your career?
The MBA helped me understand and speak a language I didn’t know before – the language of business. It helped me change my career path, allowed me to be a stronger performer, and helped moved up the ladder very quickly using many of the skills I learned in the program.
How has your perspective on business changed as a result of furthering your education?
I now understand the difference between a leader and a manager. I know which skills are required for each, and when it’s appropriate to be a manager versus when it’s time to be a leader.
How do you see technology changing business in the future?
Technology has made the world smaller and more connected. It allows small and medium size businesses to level the playing field and compete with large businesses. It has forced changes in business principles and practices. Certainly, there are good and bad aspects to those changes, but the good definitely outweigh the bad.
What advice would you give to young professionals thinking about earning a graduate degree?
While my logical mind tells me a graduate degree may not be for everyone, I’d still jump to say, “Do it!” I mean, why not? There’s potential for it to make you better. Even if you just learn one or two new bits of information, gain one or two new skills, or develop one or two new points of view, they could be game-changers. These things could improve your career and your life dramatically. Every MBA graduate I’ve ever known has said an MBA was well worth it.