Lauren Hardisky, an American who had yet to complete her bachelors let alone rack up three years' work experience, was an unusual candidate for the MBA program at MIP Politecnico di Milano in Italy. But with some hard work, she got in, completed the program, and has now landed a consulting job in Denver, Colorado.
Lauren, 24 was born in Pennsylvania and attended Fordham University in New York. She studied for a BA in International Political Economy, Business and Italian. Everyone told Lauren to study Spanish as it is the next big language in the US but Lauren had made up her mind.
A representative from MIP Politecnico di Milano (MIP) met Lauren at a graduate careers fair when she was a junior. “I was split between law school and business school. But my dad is an MBA so I guess it runs in the family.”
The idea of an international MBA really appealed and it seemed to be a great opportunity to gain international exposure, something Lauren had gained at her international boarding school.
Most business schools require at least two years of work experience after graduation but Lauren took the non-traditional route. She got her act together, sat her GMAT, and after some pretty clever wrangling with the Fordham office managed to bring her final exams forward by two months.
Lauren says that by the time it was graduation she was already in Milan studying for her MBA. “The opportunity to keep studying was better than staying in America where the job opportunities were bleak.”
MIP must have spotted the obvious potential in Lauren, who since her senior year in high school had been working 35 hours a week alongside school work. “I always needed something else outside of the classroom and I learnt more from my internships than I did from some of my classes.”
Whilst at high school Lauren was working in private wealth marketing for Citi Group Smith Barney (now Morgan Stanley Smith Barney) and at college she got her New York real estate license and began selling commercial real estate for Massey Knackal Realty Services. “This was an amazing experience, we grossed $11 million in my first year and I was there for two years.” Alongside real estate Lauren found the time to complete an internship as wedding gown designer, Vera Wang’s assistant.
Lauren says, “MIP were willing to look at me, the representative was like you don’t look like you are only 22 years old!”
Lauren was due to fly out to Milan just as the Icelandic volcanic ash spread over Europe so she arrived slightly delayed but this was compensated by the great immersion retreat program that MIP run.
Whilst at MIP Lauren undertook an internship for luxury menswear designer, Ermenegildo Zegna. The project which lasted six months, extended from the original three, was an organisational check-up program for the brand which wanted to expand into Switzerland and Italy. “It was effectively a consulting project as we [a group of four girls] came in as outsiders and had to analyse this company.”
Her final project was working for an Italian start-up company called Fubles.com which organises football matches. With over 65,000 users in Italy the brand is looking to expand across Europe. Lauren looked at the different models of entry and ways of building up a core mass.
After graduating (and a brief stint island-hopping in Greece) Lauren came back to America, and headed for Colorado looking for a change of scenery and a new take on life. But with Lauren’s diverse career background no-one else seemed to know what type of job she was looking for. “I was convinced I was going to become a consultant. I couldn’t articulate to anyone else exactly what I wanted but I knew I would know when I found it.”
After receiving a rejection letter from a small consulting firm, Lauren received an email from the head of the firm asking her for a coffee so Lauren went to meet with them. When, not long after the company experienced some organisational changes and they quickly needed a new member of staff, Lauren was first in line.
Lauren was hired as a temp to hire and admits she was initially cautious as she so wanted a permanent job but she really agreed with the ethos of the consulting company. Lauren says, “I got hired to undertake the ‘Race To The Top Early Learning Challenge Grant’ for the State of Colorado, a federal grant for a $60million project, which we have just completed.” After this project Lauren has been switched to business process working for a not-for-profit healthcare organisation and a public sector technology firm.
The company is Rebound Solutions Consulting and Lauren loves working for a small firm as it means it is exceptionally adaptable. The company is heavily involved with educational reform and child welfare and the team are heading for Haiti in February as the company have a sponsor school out there.
Lauren can see herself staying in the same line of work for a couple of years but eventually branching out to more larger scale projects in a larger firm. “But now I am still enjoying how small and exciting my job is. My job is never boring. I know I want to stay with consulting as I love the variety and working with people.”