I fell into what I’m doing for work today – Director of Operations at an IT infrastructure services firm – largely by accident. I studied film as a Yale undergraduate and aspired to become a writer and filmmaker. Early on, I juggled various corporate jobs while writing and attempting to sell screenplays. When I finally realized it was time to adjust priorities, I was already advancing in my “day job” as an IT project manager but knew I still had a lot to learn.
As my career progressed, I realized I wanted to become more deeply involved in overall strategic decision-making and recognized I needed to build my business acumen and leadership skills to take my career to the next level. However, with a family to support, taking two years off from work wasn’t an option for me. Pursuing an online MBA seemed like the best path to reach that goal.
I chose to pursue my online MBA at Kelley Direct for many reasons. I’m a research fanatic, so I spent a great deal of time comparing programs. In the end, I wasn’t just looking for a piece of paper to frame on my wall: I wanted to walk away with the best education possible. Kelley Direct offered an outstanding reputation, rigorous curriculum, an extensive alumni network, and a clear ROI. Unlike many of the programs out there capitalizing on their on-campus reputations but supporting their online programs with separate faculty, Kelley Direct provided the opportunity to learn from the same world-class professors who taught in the on-campus program.
One of the main draws to Kelley for me was also the required in-person experience, Kelley On Campus. Kicking off the program by way of total immersion for a week with classmates set the stage for the two years that followed and really facilitated reaching out, connecting, and spending time with each other outside of class requirements.
Overall, my experience in the program was transformative. At times it was exhausting, but it was also exhilarating learning from and being challenged by classmates and professors. One of my favorite classes was Ray Luther’s master class on personal leadership, in which he guided and encouraged us to take a deeply introspective look at living in an intentional way. Another favorite was Carolyn Goerner’s personal influence and negotiations class in which she shared her incredible knowledge on the subject all the while sharing herself: she’s passionate, compassionate, funny, and fun.
It was Fred Schlegel’s Strategic Management of Tech and Innovation class, however, that confirmed for me that I really wanted to focus on strategy. This had as much to do with Fred’s knowledge of the subject and his constructive feedback as my good fortune of working with a phenomenal team.
In my current role, I lead a team responsible for delivering IT Project Services to our clients, including several Fortune 100 and 500 companies. My focus is on growing client relationships and building high-performing teams through servant leadership. The Kelley Direct program helped me recognize that it’s critical for me to find my purpose. This journey made me reprioritize what matters in landing that next job, and the importance of finding meaning and purpose and aligning that with the right organizational fit. I also learned that it’s necessary to stretch, to get outside your comfort zone. For me, this is where the real learning begins.
It would be disingenuous to say it was easy. On top of juggling a demanding job and family life, pursuing an MBA was a significant commitment and impossible without the support and sacrifice of my family. Having just completed the program after 27 months, however, I have no doubt I made the right decision in deciding to attend Kelley. The experience more than exceeded my expectations.