Alex Dea (MBA ’15) reflects on his time at UNC Kenan-Flagler.
What are your biggest takeaways from your MBA experience?
A good team makes all the difference.
I participated in student government for many years, both in high school and college. What stood out about my experience serving as the UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA Student Association vice president of diversity at UNC Kenan-Flagler was how highly motivated, talented and just plain fun our leadership team was.
Working with teammates I respected and enjoyed motivated and energized me to work through the long nights and stressful moments to tackle challenges, achieve our goals and, most importantly, serve the needs of our fellow classmates.
You can achieve whatever you set out to.
I’ve always felt comfortable with my public speaking and group communication skills but needed to work on writing. I took a handful of business writing classes at UNC Kenan-Flagler and made a commitment to myself to write more frequently, then followed through by starting a blog and posting regularly on LinkedIn. Over time, I’ve become much better at organizing my thoughts and communicating them in a way that encapsulates the message I’m trying to convey.
Hard work pays off.
Leadership development is a fundamental component of the UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA program. While I had much to learn, there were plenty of hands-on opportunities to lead, help others and think through leadership challenges. These experiences helped me realize that I’m both gifted at and passionate about helping people understand how to use their talents in the best possible ways. As a result, I plan to focus on opportunities in my career where I can manage teams, especially those with junior staff.
One of my proudest moments was receiving the Core Values Leadership Award at graduation in front of my friends and family. My UNC Kenan-Flagler experience helped me become confident in my leadership abilities, and receiving this award showed that my peers respected me as leader, too.
If you could do your MBA over again, what would you do differently?
Early on in my MBA experience, I put a big emphasis on proving myself to my classmates. In an environment of high-performing people, it was easy to feel insecure about my weaknesses and development areas. I was younger than most of my classmates and wanted to demonstrate that I did belong and that I could cut it here.
If I could do it again, I would focus less on proving myself to my classmates and more on being honest with myself about my weaknesses and development areas so that I could grow even more. UNC Kenan-Flagler is a safe environment where people are supportive of you, regardless of your skill level. As soon as I realized this, I began to find opportunities to work on things I wanted to improve and my growth shot up exponentially.
What makes UNC Kenan-Flagler MBAs unique?
There are many great MBA programs and many great MBA students and graduates from these programs. What sets UNC Kenan-Flagler students apart is that when it comes to business, we care equally about the how and the why – and we care even more about the who.
UNC Kenan-Flagler MBAs care about how business gets done. We make sure that things are done in the best possible way – marked by collaboration, an emphasis on inclusion and free of bias – in order to achieve results.
We also care about why things are done the way they are. We use logic, analytical horsepower and intuition to make sure that we are following the right path.
And finally, we put an emphasis on the who. What UNC Kenan-Flagler graduates care about most are the people. We actively develop relationships, look out for our teammates and care about both the collective success of the team and as the individual contributions and development of the people within it. When you are working with a UNC Kenan-Flagler graduate, you can count on the fact that we have your back.