1st-year Kelley MBA
Recently, I was invited by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to participate in the Local Heroes Program, part of their annual Walk-A-Thon in Atlanta, because of a water rescue I was involved in several years ago in the Gulf of Mexico.
I was paired with a former CEO of Delta Airlines, the CEO of White Horse Advisors, and the Mayor of Dunwoody, Georgia. These people are titans of their own industries, and I was amazed at how humble and caring they were for the families of St. Jude patients. In them, I saw leaders who respected and valued community.
Over the break, I kept thinking about this event and how important community and leadership were to me as an MBA. The first semester at Kelley is packed with classes, projects, and recruitment events. Sometimes it can be difficult to find time to reflect and fully appreciate the insights and progress we have made since the onset of the program.
Here are some things I've taken away in just four months at Kelley:
1. Helping others is a two-way street
I am always amazed at how open and willing Kelleys are to lay down whatever they are doing to help each other. Whether it is to cook a group of friends a much needed hot meal, volunteer to hold a review session for classmates who feel lost, or be there through each other’s rainy days and achievements, the act of being with that person or group helps all of us grow into better, stronger leaders.
2. Community builds perspective
One of the Kelley School’s major strengths is its people. Being in a top-ranked program, we are fortunate to work with world-class faculty and staff, but also to learn with and from the best and brightest students from around the world. Business is global. It transcends cultural, social, and economic boundaries. By establishing diversity and culture, Kelley MBAs consistently go into the workforce more cognizant of their environments.
3. Influence is a leader’s most powerful tool
Leadership is not just about being a good manager. Leadership influences every interaction, every presentation, and every act in our everyday lives. During the Leadership Academy call out, Eric Johnson, the head of Graduate Career Services, told us that the two most important characteristics of a great leader are the ability to coach others for self-improvement and to set a clear and motivating vision for a team or an organization. A successful leader can, and should, influence the organization both in and out of the boardroom.
4. Leaders can be found at every function and level of an organization
We are taught that the best leaders use a mixture of bottom-up and top-down management to keep their organizations cutting edge and always improving. At Kelley, I have met lawyers, consultants, athletes, entrepreneurs, military veterans, scientists, and just about every other type of professional I can name. What has been most inspiring is learning about how each person has overcome challenges in life and how they have combined that experience with the skills they've learned here.
5. Networking is the key to strong, trusting relationships
Getting a job in today’s world is an art. Technology has made applying for positions easier than ever. But the influx of applicants has put a major drain on the system and has led companies to lean heavily on applicant tracking systems where historically HR personnel ruled the roost. Establishing a healthy network of peers and professionals is the best way to establish trust and bypass these algorithms. And after the job hunting is over, that trust leads to more effective and efficient teams.
Aristotle once said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit." Every day, I see my peers practicing excellence on a grand scale. It stems primarily from the tight-knit community that we continue to build and our humility to learn and grow as individuals.