Saturday, February 5, 2011

Looking Beyond the Basics

Like most people who pursue an MBA, I wanted the usual stuff: great faculty, cohesive business education, amazing classmates from diverse backgrounds, a nice facility. All the prerequisites for the top programs. But unlike many of my classmates, I wasn't interested in using my degree to change industries, or even functions. For the three years prior to returning to school, I worked in marketing for the pharma industry, and I really enjoyed the work. I knew I wanted to return to that space, although perhaps in a different role and for a different employer.

As a result, I had a few extra requirements when looking for a program. After all, the pharmaceutical industry is undergoing multiple changes as healthcare reform looms and the dynamics within the industry shift. And marketing is hardly a static field; its applications change as quickly as technology does. I needed an MBA program that would allow me to immerse myself in the integrated curriculum, but also stay abreast of the changes in my target industry and function. In my mind, it didn't make much sense to take time off to return to school only to graduate two years behind the times.

One of the reasons Kelley stood out during my MBA search was because of the Academy model. Every student has the opportunity to be involved in a supplemental 'class' organized by function (i.e. Corporate Finance, Business Marketing, etc). The experience runs through the entirety of the two year MBA program. I was excited to find out that Kelley offers both a Consumer Marketing Academy and a Life Sciences Academy. The former would allow me to stay current in marketing trends, while the latter would help me stay current with the healthcare industry. The Life Sciences program is truly unique; it's a collaboration with the Center for the Business of Life Sciences (CBLS). As a result of being part of the program, I've been able to attend professional conferences, hear expert guest speakers in the pharma industry, and work on real business problems facing various sectors of the healthcare space. It's been a great opportunity to learn more, with the nice side benefit of helping me prepare for interviews with some prospective employers.

The academy experience, and the Life Sciences academy in particular, is a great example of what differentiates Kelley yet isn't captured in traditional rankings. The school is filled with clubs, additional curriculum opportunities, and groups that allow students to truly customize their experience. If you have an idea of what you want from your MBA experience, or if you just want to explore as many avenues as possible, there are truly more possibilities than time.


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