When my coaching colleague called herself the "Engineer Whisperer" I thought that maybe I was an MBA whisperer. I work with a lot of MBAs, but perhaps I am the opposite. A whisperer makes you think of helping someone to be more of something. I think my goal is to help MBAs to be less of something. If you are an MBA or have spent time with them you will recognize some key attributes that enable MBAs to be wildly successful, but these exact attributes can be what hold many back from realizing truly rewarding careers.
I have an undergrad degree from Wharton and an MBA from Ross (Michigan). I started down a typical MBA path in consulting, then investment banking followed by corporate finance. I understand the mindset - it used to be my mindset. As a recovering MBA, I think I have a unique perspective.
Here are the top three things I notice continue to trip up my MBA-minded clients:
MBAs have spent their entire lives winning. “Whatever it takes” is what they are taught. It's not personal, it's business. Many of my clients believe they can't show their hand in an interview because they might risk not getting an offer and getting an offer is everything. I often have to give my clients permission to ask the hard questions about the role during the interview process. What is the culture? What do people say about the organization? If you don't ask the right questions and listen to what the employees are saying, you will accept a job just because you won, not because it's the right role for you. My roommates in college and I would hang up our rejection letters (back when they mailed them out) as a wall of shame to motivate us to keep going. Even then, I hung out with people who were a bit cynical of the whole process so perhaps it was also a commentary on the ridiculousness of the intense job search procedure.
Following the Rules
If I do all the right things, the job will come. MBAs are pretty earnest and are generally good people. But they are also part of a subsection of the population who thinks they have more control over events than they do. A great example of this occurred during the pandemic - if I wear a mask and sanitize, then I'll be ok. In aggregate that is true but on an individual level results vary. There isn't a prescriptive path after high school, college, or graduate school. I help my clients acknowledge their own agency so that they can continue to thrive when there is no rule book for where they are going.
MBAs find me refreshing, I think. Almost as if I am a reformed MBA who has seen the other side. An MBA is more than a master degree in business. It is a mindset. You need a healthy cocktail of smarts, stick-to-itiveness and arrogance. As MBAs many of us weren't really sure what to do next and the subsequent job search is only a process of elimination - not a quest toward doing what you love. An MBA program can't get you a unique, customized career path based on what you love and what you are good at. How would a program be different if self-discovery was at the center instead of success at any cost?
I work with clients to let go of following the rules and winning and to instead embrace self-discovery. I work with business leaders who think differently and want to be challenged to take bold risks to achieve a dream when there isn’t a rule book to be found. I want to help you take that bold philosophy that got you here and apply it to how you manage your own career across its life cycle - job search, promotions, everyday disruptions and making intentional choices. I listen for what is not said and allow you to maximize your full acceleration.
If you are a reformed (or reforming) MBA, please contact me if you'd like to move up! You can schedule a free consultation here: https://calendly.com/unpackingthebox/coachingconsult.