I’ve held a few different positions in the nonprofit sector, mostly with educational organizations. The thing that connected all of my positions was that, in each one, I walked into a blank slate—I was always the first person to have been hired for that position. I had to create a working structure and figure out how to prioritize and move things forward quickly.
The MBAs I worked with seemed to really know how to get things done. They were efficient, and I liked the way they worked. I was ultimately interested in finding a future job that would allow me to do many different things, all in one role. Consulting sounded like the right fit, so I decided to pivot from nonprofit to consulting. But I knew I needed a new skill set first, and an MBA would fill the gaps.
I interned with the Boston Consulting Group. I was assigned to a big strategy case for a food services company. It was very quantitative work, and I was nervous, because I don’t have a quantitative background. There’s no way I could’ve handled this case before my first year at Yale SOM and the core curriculum.
I was surprised at how many aspects of the case were recognizable to me, thanks to core classes. Concepts from the Competitor course were really relevant, and so was my microeconomics course, and Sourcing and Managing Funds. Some of the negotiations tactics we studied, and the game theory, also ended up being useful.
The way the core courses connected and spoke to each other made the difference for me. They gave me the confidence to walk into the case and know that I wouldn’t drown.
Before Yale SOM, my bias was to approach problems from an individual perspective. I would have something that needed to get done, and I would think, ‘Who are the people I need to contact?’ ‘How do I get this done in the short term?’
My thinking has shifted to the long term now, to looking at problems from a macro perspective, and from multiple points of view. Our courses teach us to look at, for instance, an entire market and to think about all the drivers in that market and what’s at play. Then you drill down to individual firms and their strengths and weaknesses.
I’ve gained a going-from-big-to-small mindset. That’s how I approach business problem now, and it makes a big difference.