21 Tips To Becoming A Successful Businessperson, From MBAs

Who doesn’t want to be more successful? High-flying MBA students and graduates give you the lowdown on how to achieve your business career goals

kamran 29. Leave your comfort zone behind

Kamran Heinrich Ahmad, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Kamran’s top tip is to always be on the lookout for ways to branch out of your comfort zone—after a life in oil exploration and geophysics, he is doing just that, studying for an MBA at Stanford.

“Whether taking on new responsibilities on the job or working on side projects, finding ways to challenge and differentiate yourself is key to building momentum in your career,” he adds.

murielle 310. Find a mentor!

Murielle Liu, EDHEC Business School

At 25, Murielle is the youngest student in her MBA class at EDHEC. She’s drawing on her own top tip—finding a mentor—to develop her own startup, an online recruitment platform called TanZu.

“99% of people start their businesses without a mentor, choosing instead to believe that trial and error is the best plan,” she says.

“I agree that failure is the mother of success, however, as an entrepreneur, one tiny mistake could lead to a great loss. Guidance from an experienced mentor who has been there before could make your path to success much easier and quicker.”

Jenna 311. Don't let an opportunity hang, ACT!

Jenna Hattingh, University of Exeter Business School 

Alongside cultivating a 40-acre orchard as director of Oak and Pitts farm, Jenna is also studying for an MBA at the University of Exeter Business School.

“Act!” She asserts. “Once you have recognized an opportunity, action is what creates success. Self-confidence, taking risks, and passion are all essential. Perseverance and resilience are also key. Think of obstacles as opportunities to adapt and create new pathways.

“Next, network with those internal and external to your industry. This facilitates shared knowledge, which creates opportunities for your business, cements relationships, and improves your business profile.”

heath 312. Use your users

Heath Gasgoine, Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM)

Freelance business transformator, Heath, graduated with an MBA from AGSM in 2010.

In the eight years he’s spent helping businesses adapt and thrive, he says one thing often sits on a lot of senior executives’ tongues.

“How do they change and stay competitive? They know they need to change, but change is not easy,” he explains. “The key to success, in my opinion, is get the users involved; get support from the top; and be clear about the why (objective), how (strategy), and when (implementation).


13. Invest in you

Adrien Bernier, EMLYON Business School

Adrien’s background is in science and product development—he has five years’ experience managing new technology projects.

During the MBA at EMLYON, from which he is set to graduate in March, he has learned one vital lesson.

“The best investment is in yourself. Keep developing yourself throughout your life to grow and increase the value you can bring to a company and to the market you are involved in,” he asserts.

“It is important to work hard on yourself, on every aspect of your life, and not only on your daily, short-term job activities. Invest energy in improving yourself instead of living in denial, blaming external excuses. I believe what we get depends on who we are and what we do. By changing yourself, your environment and life will change.”

Nikhil, ie

14. Dip your toes in unchartered waters

Nikhil Lasrado, IE Business School

Nikhil Lasrado is now a country manager at Prodigy Finance, based in India—he graduated with an International MBA from IE Business School in 2015.

“Given the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) business environment we live in, I have found that the one standout way to achieve success in business is to proactively volunteer to take up pilot projects on any FOAK (First of a Kind) opportunity,” he advises.

“Resistance to change is often a barrier to success, and being among the first to venture into unchartered business territory often results in failure. However, while failure will never be held against you, the occasional success brings recognition, and with it, the opportunity to work on more challenging initiatives, resulting in a virtuous cycle of fast-track career growth.”

bomberg15. Feedback is golden

Nina Bomberg, ESCP Europe

ESCP Europe EMBA graduate Nina has a golden piece of advice for career success: feedback is a gift.

“The person giving it is taking the time and effort to share it with you and, in most cases, has taken even more time behind the scenes to observe you, think about what they have seen, and consider how they will deliver it to you.

“Be thankful, consider it carefully, and think how you want to act upon that feedback. At the same time, when you observe someone doing something worth mentioning, do so. They will appreciate it.”

mass 316. Curiosity never killed the MBA

Massimiliano Sormani, MIP Politecnico di Milano

A student on the MIP International Flex EMBA, set to graduate next year, Massimiliano has recently completed the fabled career ‘triple jump’.

“Be curious, never stop learning, discovering, and challenging yourself and your ideas, and be open to listening and learning from others,” he says.

“Think outside the box—just because something has been always done in a certain way, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it in a different, perhaps better, way.

“Finally, care about others. We cannot succeed alone, it has to be done together in a team!”

erica17. Self-confidence is key

Erica Toews, The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

Erica comes from a non-traditional MBA background—she studied English at Stanford before embarking on the MBA at Tuck in 2016.

For her, confidence is key!

"I arrived at Tuck with a non-traditional business background, having majored in creative writing and worked in the education sector. But, I was confident in my ability to succeed,” she says.

“It’s more important to be self-aware and open to learning than to have all the answers at the outset. Be honest about what you know and don’t know and ask questions. Have the courage to stay your own course, and don't conflate other people’s goals with your own.

“I knew I wanted to work as a product manager at an education technology startup in the Bay Area, and although that meant I didn’t have a job when I graduated from business school, I’m happy I didn’t settle for anything else."

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