I started my career working in market research for equity investing in emerging market countries at Morgan Stanley, but I’ve always been drawn to nonprofit work, specifically international development. I quit my job after two years and moved to Uganda to work with a nonprofit, where I focused on helping farmers increase their incomes. But good intentions can only take you so far. I soon realized that I needed to expand my skillset, and I felt that an MBA could give me the tools to design programs that are more market-oriented and more impactful.
While in Uganda, I had a severe motor-vehicle accident, and it’s been a long road to recovery. I applied to SOM after my accident, hoping that I would recover enough to be able to attend school, but I needed more time. I turned down my admissions offer from SOM, but the admissions office just said, “Come when you’re ready.” That spoke volumes about the school’s values. It resonated with my own and demonstrated that this was the school for me.
The integrated core curriculum in the first year at SOM shows you just how connected things really are. I thought finance wasn’t relevant to my goals, but after taking Sourcing and Managing Funds in the core, I chose to take Corporate Finance as an elective, which I could previously never imagine taking. It taught me a lot about adding value to organizations. My dream is to one day form a nonprofit that provides rehabilitation services to under-resourced disabled individuals in developing countries. I now know how important my finance skills will be in aspects of nonprofit management like fundraising. Similarly, through courses like Nonprofit Strategy and Corporate Finance, I’ve learned that forecasting cash flow is just as important in nonprofit as it is in for-profit management.
I’ve also learned that good leadership is about more than always knowing what to do. Having good people management skills is extremely important, because you have to deal with all sorts of people when managing, or even working at, an organization. Our diverse student body helps with developing these communication skills. At SOM, you’re assigned to a learning team and you spend many hours working on group assignments. In the process, you end up befriending individuals with very different interests. Outside of the learning team, you may never have gotten the chance to befriend a particular person just because your paths may never have crossed. The diversity of the teams helps with hearing and learning from different perspectives. And because our student body is largely comprised of people with similar values, but diverse goals, it’s very easy to connect with people. Our students really embrace the mission of serving “business and society.” In one way or another, every single person here is concerned with social impact.