Amanda Rodgers chose to pursue her MBA as a professional challenge to fast-track her growth in management at her company. What she didn’t expect was that earning an MBA would provide immediate opportunities at different companies and the confidence to pursue executive roles she describes as “a huge step outside of my comfort zone.”
What was your favorite aspect of the Executive MBA program?
My favorite part of the Executive MBA program was the accessibility to the faculty. The caliber of professors is amazing – of course we benefitted from our time with them in the classroom, but they also offered help and counsel outside of the classroom. Many have industry experience and do consulting work, so they really understand the industries they teach about, are at the top of their fields, and bring real-life trends and case studies to class.
What made you choose the UNC Kenan-Flagler Executive MBA program?
While there were many reasons, one of the most important was the cohort structure at UNC Kenan-Flagler. I knew that a group who valued team development in tandem with personal growth was right for me. In my cohort and study group, we took on work for each other if any of us were having a hard time with specific classes or because of non-academic reasons. My cohort was close outside of the classroom, and we developed friendships that extended beyond our professional and academic lives.
You know, I don’t think that I even truly understood the value of the cohort until about six months in to the program. It was then that I really grasped how it strengthened our personal growth and development experience – it makes perfect sense that we would learn in teams because we work in teams every day. During the program, we got so much perspective from our peers in the cohort. I learned that it is always better to have lots of people with different expertise. I have a sales background, and people on my team were HR professionals in pharmaceuticals, aerospace engineers, marketing professionals and more. The diversity was a huge plus and allowed us to excel in every assignment.
I wanted to make sure that UNC Kenan-Flagler was right for me, so before I applied, I sat in on several classes to get a feel for the interactions between students. I could see the relationships the teams built and the excellent working dynamic the class had, and I knew I wanted that, too.
How did the Executive MBA program develop your leadership skills?
The program gave me a toolkit to understand diverse business situations and the finesse to approach a variety of problems in unique ways. It gave me the ability to step back and look at the people in the room, and then interpret things differently based on the situation. How can I build confidence right now? How can I encourage? How can I motivate? The answers to those questions are different to different employees – the program gave us an understanding of how people think and the ability to motivate them. It’s a set of principles and a skill set I wouldn’t have learned on the job alone.
When reflecting on my MBA, it’s clear that the entire experience made an impact. Certainly there are “aha!” moments, but it’s really all of it together. Going in, I thought that the hard skills would be most helpful, but after completing the program I most value the soft skills it gave me. Knowing how to inspire and motivate teams and how to constructively go against the grain gave me a new level of confidence. Making the decision to get my Executive MBA was the first time I’d taken a chance on myself in 10 years, and I am so glad I did!