With years of experience in investment, asset, and wealth management, at top firms like Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank, Jan Schepanek had a rounded view of the vast world of finance.
But it was when he ascended to a general management role, at financial services firm Fidelity International, that Jan started to appreciate the challenge of connecting these different disciplines and building a consensus between these stakeholders.
An MBA—with a comprehensive curriculum and sufficient intellectual challenge—appealed greatly.
He enrolled at Yale School of Management, and the best piece of advice he received was to take time to know yourself.
“The leadership courses at Yale helped me to be more aware of myself and others and use this knowledge to manage more effectively,” Jan explains.
“It is this awareness that helps me being successful in my job every day and I believe that only the continuous practice and improvement supports the transition into senior leadership roles.”
Jan graduated in 2018 and has seen first-hand how an MBA can help accelerate your career—at the beginning of this year he moved into a role as a senior director working directly for the CEO.
BusinessBecause spoke with Jan to find out more.
Why did you choose Yale School of Management for your MBA?
The overall reputation, the quality of faculty, the integrated curriculum with the organizational perspectives approach, and the great campus.
For me personally, the outstanding faculty in finance and the dedicated focus on asset management were also two important reasons.
But the main reason is its people. When you come to Yale you realize you are part of something bigger. This is an education not only for your career but for life. This is also emphasized by the school’s mission of ‘educating leaders for business and society’.
How has the MBA enhanced your career?
Going back to school was something I wanted to do for myself. I attended class not to get a certain grade or to achieve a specific career goal. I attended class because I was curious to learn, and this made it a truly transformational experience, both personally and professionally.
Rather than one single course all of them collectively enhanced my career. The most life-changing part of the overall journey is the incremental self-reflection over the two years. It has helped me to be more focused in my thinking, my communication, and my actions.
What do you know now that you wish you had known before the MBA?
There are always multiple truths. It’s all about bridging the gaps and finding out the commonalities between conflicting interests.
Too often we focus on the problems and differences while it is much more successful to build on the common ground. I tend to look for the perfect solution, but maybe perfect is the compromise achieved by involving everyone.
What advice do you have for other MBA applicants starting their journey to business school?
Without doubt taking a break from work and going back to business school is a significant step. To make this a rewarding and successful experience, I believe it is important to get the motive, the timing, and the school right.
I therefore recommend applicants to use every opportunity to speak with admissions, current students, and alumni to get their perspective. The personal interactions with students and staff helped me to find the program that was right for me.
How can MBA candidates stand out in the application process?
When you go through the different application steps and meet so many bright and talented people along the way, you will inevitably feel a bit discouraged at some point.
I believe that every candidate has a special story and the only challenge is to tell it. The more you think about yourself, your strengths, your weaknesses, your goals, and your motivation to pursue the MBA, the better your own authentic story will be—and this is how you stand out.
I remember from my own application process that people were interested in aspects of my experience I did not consider particularly special, and in those moments of my life when something did not go as planned.