Monday, October 11, 2010

Women In Business

For the women at Kelley (and men too, if they want to be involved), the National Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA) is our national affiliation. We have a student chapter, and participation in this group has been a highlight of my MBA experience. Recently I returned from the annual NAWMBA Conference in Louisville, KY, and I have a few reflections that I would like to share:

Connections and community – Through NAWMBA, I have built relationships with MBA students and professionals from all over the country. These relationships go beyond simple networking or connections to a next job. I have become a part of a community, one that is growing and gaining momentum. One of my most memorable conversations from the weekend was with Jessica Berger, NAWMBA National Student Director. She gave me some great advice on a few things, and when I thanked her for the insights, she simply responded with, “Jen, you don’t need to thank me. That is why we are here.” Yes, NAWMBA is indeed a strong community and one that I am so proud to be a part of. Navigating the MBA life and figuring out a career path can be a bit daunting, but I know there is an amazing support system just a call or an email away.

Exposure to inspirational business leaders - The quality of speakers that NAWMBA brings to its events is incredible. I've never left a session disappointed (and I've been to quite a few now). This year, we got to hear from Lynn Tilton, and in 6" stilettos and “liberal” dress, she may challenge everything you think Corporate America should look like, but, wow, can this woman deliver! A banquet room packed full of students and professionals was dead silent as she spoke...everyone was hanging onto every word. And here is one of my favorite points - the further away you get from your passion and natural talents, the greater decrease you will see in your chance for success - in essence, stay true to yourself…a simple message that is too easily forgotten.

Opportunities to give back – Embodying the spirit of women empowering women, NAWMBA has found a meaningful way to reach an underserved population. Through the Shideezhi Project, approximately 30 MBA students from around the country mentor high school girls living on the Navajo Reservation. And the value of this new initiative has not gone unnoticed. At the conference, Sam’s Club/Walmart awarded scholarships to 5 mentors to pay for program-related travel costs, including a trip to the Reservation. The energy around this program and the support we received was incredible!

While my involvement in this group has certainly made my already hectic life a little busier, the professional and personal growth, the fun, and the new friendships are well worth the few missed hours of sleep!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Importance of Giving Thanks!

What’s up KD! I hope this blog finds you well. Things are picking up at work and with school, but the pace is manageable.

Today’s blog is actually about a topic that we don’t always get to – saying thanks. It’s funny, I have been meaning to write this blog for a couple of weeks, but much like giving thanks in general, we run out of time – and it gets put on the back burner. In fact, I want to thank a friend (Stacy Oliver) for the idea.

Well, as you take on this experience, there are several other people who are also along for the ride with you. If you have family, or friends, or a job, then you definitely know the strain on them that any academic program can cause. Moreover, while we all know that things will be better at the end, we often forget to say thanks for all of the people that are involved in making the production of getting an MBA happen. Moreover, this doesn’t even begin to include the tons of KD staffers, who are rooting for each of us to do well in our experiences, but often fade into the background over the course of our experience.

Well, for all of those people – I am saying thank you. And since this list is nowhere near comprehensive, I’m also going to say thank you right now to anyone that isn’t on it. But, here are a few people that I need to say thank you to.

Stephenie, my wife – Honey, thank you for taking the kids when I need to study, or do a conference call, and/or take a test or anything else. Thank you for being willing to enjoy this journey with me - about my crazy stories about the Economy, my Business Simulation, Six Sigma, and/or any of the other crazy things that I often love to talk about with the program. But, mostly, thank you for your support. I couldn’t have done this without you.

Erin Kilbride-Vincent – Thank you for your encouragement, information, and help with the program. I can honestly say that without your encouragement, I might not have done the things I needed in order to be in the program. You have made a difference in my life – thank you.

Lindsey Spoonmore – Thank you for your energy and welcoming attitude. I am amazed at times at the number of people that come through the conference center for trainings and in-residences. If you are half as welcoming to them as you were to our group, I’m sure that they are leaving more connected to one another and KD. Thank you.

Sheri Fella – Thank you for your passion, IU spirit, and energy. I, often, will reflect on my experience during the In-Residence program, and find myself humming the IU fight song. Between your great stories, informative classes, and willingness to challenge us, you gave us all the confidence and passion for the KD program. Thank you, and I look forward to our reunion in the Spring.

Lisa Richey-Burgis – Thank you for your patience. I seem to call with the most random requests, at the most random times, and you have always treated me with elegance and grace – even when I haven’t always deserved it. I mean, I registered, withdrew, registered, and withdrew from the same class all within a 2 day period, and you were nothing but helpful and accommodating. Thank you.

Sherry Woosley – Thank you for your confidence in me, when I didn’t have it in myself. In addition, it was your idea for me to start this MBA journey, and I, now, am seriously considering getting a Ph.D. in the field. Thank you for getting me started, and being the best mentor I could ask for.

My Co Workers – I have worked at 2 institutions since I started the program – Indiana University, and now, Southern Illinois University. I want to thank my colleagues, my supervisors, my direct reports, and my students. You all have been bored to tears with stories that start with, “I’m in this MBA program, and …”, and all the while, you have been patient with me, as I learn – the material and about myself in the process. Thank you for your support, your willingness to deal with my kooky ideas, and your encouragement. I don’t say it enough, but it means the world to me.

My Fellow KD Classmates – Since I began the KD experience a year ago, I have had tons of group projects, partners, study buddies, etc. And throughout all of my experiences, I have never been disappointed. We all come from different backgrounds, work and learning experiences, have different goals for the program, and yet – you all have been the most amazing group of academic colleagues I have ever experienced. Thank you for allowing me to learn with and from each of you. I hope that I have been able to give you a small piece of the learning that you have given me.

I hope this blog encourages you to thank those in your life that are right there along for the ride with you in this KD program.

Well, I hope that’s helpful KD! Until next time, I’ll catch you later.