Many of the world’s most influential people have one thing in common: an MBA.
Sheryl Sandberg, George Bush, Shaquille O’Neal, even TV chef Ina Garten—they’ve all got one.
It seems the course lends itself to any walk of life, as long as it’s success that’s on your lips.
With this in mind, BusinessBecause has rounded up 21 top tips from high-flying MBA students and graduates on how to reach your full potential—and some of them may just surprise you.
1. Know yourself
Tatiana Arventi, Imperial College Business School
Tatiana joined Microsoft as a product marketing manager in September 2018, having completed the Full-time MBA program at Imperial College Business School in the same year.
"Self-awareness is key to one’s success,” she says. “You need to objectively evaluate where you are in terms of skills and achievements, and where you want to be, what drives your ambitions and—most importantly—how to transform and develop yourself to get there.
“Sometimes, taking a step back to reflect on your career and retrain yourself might prove pivotal for long-term success."
2. Promote yourself
Johanna Beer, Oxford Saïd Business School
Johanna has had a successful career as a consultant and director of the Oxford Seed Fund, and is currently studying for an MBA at Oxford Saïd Business School.
She is adamant that communicating one’s achievements and goals is essential.
“During my MBA, I chaired the Technology Society, and managed activities at the Oxford Seed Fund. Initially, these extracurricular efforts were not acknowledged—not until I started communicating my accomplishments,” she explains.
“These success stories facilitated a meeting with the McKinsey global managing director. Talking about my goals and achievements with him, I positioned myself for the kind of projects that will advance my career after my return to work".
3. Tackle the status quo
Natalia Giovanoli, European School of Management and Technology (ESMT)
An MBA graduate from ESMT’s class of 2016, Natalia is a digital marketing manager with experience in luxury, hospitality, tourism and business services marketplaces.
"It is not our talent, education, or skills that lead to guaranteed success in business. People with a rigid mindset, those who believe that the current paradigm stays forever, are much less likely to flourish than those with an agile mindset,” she asserts.
“Even subtle changes should propel you to question the status quo and be ready to adjust and adapt in order to thrive."
4. Grasp every opportunity
Claudio Romani, Alliance Manchester Business School
Having graduated from Alliance Manchester Business School last month, Claudio is now working in Rome as chief strategist at Resi, a telecommunications software company.
He says that you should embrace compelling opportunities early on in your career, even if you’re not certain of the outcome or how to execute a specific project.
“Try to set realistic and achievable goals every day that are aligned with your job description, and grab a coffee with your boss to seek feedback early on.
“Gathering an understanding of your organization’s vision, tackling problems, and presenting solutions are very important habits to establish your credibility.”
5. Plan ahead
Michael Magdongon, Rotterdam School of Management
"Look at your post-MBA career as an extension to your MBA,” says Michael, who is an operations manager at Amazon and a graduate of Rotterdam School of Management’s MBA class of 2017.
“What skills, experience, and network do you want to obtain that will get you to the next level? In addition, it’s an opportunity to solidify your brand after graduation. Similarly to how an MBA can significantly alter the direction of your career, so will your post-MBA job."
6. Persistence, persistence, persistence!
Silvana Ramos, HEC Paris
Silvana currently works as a consultant at Bain & Company in Switzerland, having recently graduated with an MBA from HEC Paris.
She says: “Be ready to stumble and try again. Your career is a journey with ups, but also many downs.
“You need persistence; be ready to take a hit, then get back up and try again. Embrace failure and use it as an opportunity to learn and improve. Success does not come easy, it takes consistency and a lot of determination.”
7. Use your peers
Alvaro Encinas Bascones, IESE Business School
Alvaro, a qualified chartered financial analyst who is due to graduate with an MBA from IESE in 2019, says that there are two phases involved in forging a successful career.
“In the ‘pre-job phase’, it is crucial to deeply reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to ask others; during my MBA I learnt many surprising things about myself from my peers!
“Then, work on mastering your strengths. It is more important to sell your strengths before trying to improve weaknesses. In the ‘job phase’, take any chances that come up (even if they don’t fit into your original plan), then deliver! Delivering consistently will boost your visibility, allowing you to choose better opportunities in the future.”
8. Grit and determination
Marcelo Correa, Alliance Manchester Business School
After working in Brazil for 10 years, Marcelo pursued an MBA at Alliance Manchester Business School in 2016—he was awarded the Manchester Business School scholarship.
“Think about any successful business person and all of them will have one thing in common: grit.
“This will probably have the biggest share in your secret sauce to success! Perseverance and passion for what you are doing is crucial. During the MBA, you will be stretched in ways that you hadn't been before, especially if you are currently in your comfort zone, or an expert in your field,” he says.
“You will have to discuss subjects that you may have never heard about, talk to people more experienced than you, and continue to grow to get to the other side. But enjoy the ride: in the end, you will have one of the best experiences of your life!”