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What's the best MBA program for a new mom? Marina Nehendzy-Basin did her homework.

Starting a family is a major life event. Earning an advanced degree from a top-rated university is as well. Leavey School alumna and new mom Marina Nekhendzy-Basin, MBA '20 did both at the same time.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (May 06, 2021) 

In between picking out names and baby clothes, the Leavey School graduate researched advanced marketing degrees.

In a world where work-life balance is almost a cliché, no one would have expected Marina Nekhendzy-Basin to apply for an Evening MBA program while 8 months pregnant. Or to start classes the very day she returned to a full-time job after maternity leave. But Marina Nekhendzy-Basin doesn’t always follow the expected plan.

And so, just 16 weeks after delivering her daughter in April 2018, Nekhendzy-Basin enrolled in the #20 Top Ranked Evening MBA program at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business… with some trepidation. 

“I almost backed out before classes started because I thought ‘How am I ever going to work school into my schedule?’” she said. “But I saw that I had a lot of support from the school, and that was very empowering. It was also a tight-knit community, and the program was flexible, which helped a lot.” 

Nekhendzy-Basin soon discovered some classmates who were also balancing motherhood and the Evening MBA program. “We formed a mommy support group,” she said. “It was great to have other mothers doing what I was.”

Diving into the unknown was nothing new to Nekhendzy-Basin, who years earlier had shifted her focus from her lifelong plan to attend medical school. 

After graduating from UC San Diego, she’d decided to acquire some real-world experience before she applied to medical school and landed a plum job at Stanford University School of Medicine as a project coordinator. That position led to a research job at 23AndMe. 

“I was working closely with the marketing team there to help increase enrollment into research studies, and I had my first peek into that side of the business,” she said. “I saw how you could put yourself in the role of consumers and figure out what makes them tick and how to speak to them in a way that is compelling. I loved that, so I transitioned to marketing.”

It was a career-defining moment. Nekhendzy-Basin rose quickly to become a global brand manager at 23andMe, developing and executing fifteen fully integrated global marketing campaigns during her tenure there. As rewarding as the work was, though, it became clear when she looked at her role models within the company that she needed a graduate degree in marketing in order to advance in the industry. 

“I realized that without an MBA, it would take much longer to gain the knowledge and experience needed to earn a promotion to a senior level,” she said. 

She found her onramp to advancement at the Leavey School of Business

“My MBA helped me break through barriers in my career,” she said. “I got tremendous support from everyone at Leavey, especially from my marketing professors. They were always accessible and spent a lot of time with me outside class. They even helped me write resumes and practice interviews.”

Two months after graduating from Leavey, Nekhendzy-Basin landed a job as a senior marketing manager at the public biotech company Natera, which creates DNA testing to proactively steer treatment for diseases, individualizing regimens for patients.

Looking back at her days at SCU’s Leavey School of Business, she now realizes how valuable it was to be in a class at night and apply what she’d learned the very next day at work. “I saw myself developing as a professional much faster because of that,” she said.

Also developing during Nekhendzy-Basin’s school days was the baby she’d had four months before beginning at Leavey. “She’s three years old now, and I’m glad that I did the MBA when she was so little,” Nekhendzy-Basin said. “Now we can spend a lot of time together.”  

UPDATE

After posting this article, Marina reached out with three wonderful pieces of news:

  1. She's accepted a new job as Engagement & Retention Marketing Manager for Adobe
  2. Her husband has applied to the Leavey School of Business for his MBA
  3. She's expecting baby #2!

On behalf of the entire Santa Clara University community, we absolutely thrilled for Marina and her family!

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