I would not be sitting where I am today professionally if I had never done my MBA. As a qualification, it hasn’t given me the role that I have but, without a doubt, the experience and networks I have developed through that journey, have carved my way to where I am sitting today. It taught me how to be intentional in shaping my career path. Putting the teachings of Professors Linda Ronnie and Kurt April into action helped me to build my leadership skills, identify my values and the type of company I wanted to work for. Today I work for a global company that is the world leader in sustainable solutions for water treatment, hygiene and healthcare solutions. We are making an impact on a daily basis.
But how did I get here and what is my advice for recent graduates? First, I believe you have to have a plan. Without a plan, consider yourself lost. You have to be consistent with this plan but know that failure is as important as success. You have to try and fail in order to understand the way forward. The framework is similar to those that we were taught in change management. Identify your current state, identify what you need to learn in the transition state before moving to your future state.
Building relationships to build success
Building relationships is key to success in business but it is about making the right choices with respect to relationships that you have, both professionally and personally, focusing on shared values. It is continuous work and you never know when you may need to extract value out of any relationships or indeed reciprocate.
Many people make the mistake of trying to have a broad network but if there is no net worth within your network, then the relationships are not real. If you want to have a high-powered network, you need to put the time in and be authentic. From my MBA time, there are only a handful of people from both classes that I remain close to, but they have been with me throughout my journey.
When you finish your studies, one thing you realise is that your primary drivers will always be your primary drivers. What you choose to do will most likely be in the same field that you started in, but it should give you the skills to positively and negatively identify these drivers. Your level of consciousness, being present in the moment and being intentional becomes quite critical to your success.
Find a mentor or coach
Aside from working on relationships, I also recommend you step up your personal development to maximise on the investment you made in your studies. Find a mentor – reach out to someone on LinkedIn, contact someone in your class or in your organisation. Hire a business coach to keep you on track.
Don’t get lost, stay grounded
There is one other thing to mention, which is a topic that doesn’t often get spoken about and this happens to quite a few people. There is a fine line between evolution and getting lost. During your studies hold on to your core values and stay grounded. It requires mental fortitude. If anyone abandons their focus during their degree for personal issues, it is also likely that it will happen in the workplace. Don’t get lost.
To lead others, you need to be able to lead yourself, understand your behavioral drivers, and focus your effort to make sure it is aligned to your over-arching objectives. If you align yourself with the right people, I firmly believe that the right thing will happen at the right time.