By Bobby Strode, 3/2 MBA Class of 2023
As you may infer from the title, those dates represent two different versions of myself. On 1/1/21, I was your typical college junior feeling fairly accomplished coming off the I-Core semester. By that time, I had an internship locked up, accepted my offer to join the 3/2 MBA program Class of 2023, and was eager to start a class called “Spring Training.” Flash forward to 1/1/22, the personal and professional growth witnessed in myself over the previous year could not be matched. Never had I been exposed to a group as generous as the 3/2 MBA alumni network, who come back time and time again to talk with students for hours. Researching their company/industry, hearing about their experience, listening to questions from my cohort, forming my own questions, and watching Professor Greene interact with them all drove me to become a more well-rounded business student and future leader. Here are a few things I’ve learned through the process:
My undergraduate self thought a good presentation was a good presentation. If you told a comprehensive, compelling story with well-formatted slides, then anyone with half a brain would recognize your effort. But what if your audience was the CEO versus your boss? Or an outside consultant versus a potential customer? Knowledge levels differ between each; therefore, your content and organization must as well. A presentation is only good if the content matches your intended audience’s degree of understanding. For that reason, knowing my audience is the number one skill I’ve worked to develop.
This idea did not originally stem from my own volition. I was pushed into it through an array of presentations (Spring Training, Orientation, A509, Strategy, Audit) and a high volume of emails (informational interviews, faculty, other students) that came from being part of the 3/2. While tedious and uncomfortable at first, I firmly believe this skill will set me apart early in my career, not to mention serve me well no matter where I end up.
Another skill, one might call a perspective, that I’ve acquired is focusing on the bigger picture. Students, myself included, get easily caught up in the content of something. Constantly focused on how to memorize and regurgitate as much content as possible. Facts and figures do make the world go round; however, sometimes there is more to be learned than simply what someone tells you. Is the topic being presented in a way that makes sense? How can I improve the presentation? What about their presentation style do I like and why? Does this make sense given what I currently know? Are the right questions being asked? Am I ready to give feedback if asked for it? These are the questions that go through my head on a daily basis.
The learning process is never ending and the best businesspeople, I promise you, are constantly trying to learn from those around them. Because the subject matter will undoubtedly change over time, but your capacity to see a problem, to ask questions, and to execute should be foundational. This can be related to math equations from high school like the quadratic formula. Each variable (a.k.a. content) was top of mind while you solved a problem. If you were lost, then you asked questions until the problem was completed. I would argue the 3/2 program is no different in that now it’s not the quadratic formula; it’s lease accounting or foreign exchange markets or information technology. Business professionals solve problems by asking questions, and they get better at it by asking more questions.
In closing, I would like to acknowledge that my path has changed. Deloitte Consulting seemed like my ideal landing spot for years. Though today, I’m not sure if I wanted that for me or because (what felt like) everyone around me was looking at the Big 4. After learning about my career opportunities through the 3/2 program, my sights are now set on corporate. This summer I am on the Investor Relations team at Deere & Company World Headquarters in Moline, IL. A position that I’m not convinced I would’ve found without Dave Greene and my cohort, and one that I wouldn’t have had the confidence to interview for 1/1/21.