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Four of our Part-Time MBA students discuss how LEAD impacted their career leadership goals, supported their personal growth, and helped build community.

Meredith Braun, Evening MBA student, Digital Marketing Specialist at SpotHero
Jamaine Cook, Weekend MBA student, Director, Strategic Accounts at BlackLine
Dhimant Korant, Evening MBA student, IT Infrastructure Product Owner at Experian
Sally Kwok, Evening MBA student, System Engineer at Mc-Master-Carr

Career Impact

What did you take from LEAD that supported your leadership goals in the workplace?

Meredith: I have had many opportunities to lead in the workplace, but they have usually been because someone else secured the opportunity for me; I shied away from really reaching for those leadership roles myself because I didn’t believe I had the “right kind” of approach. However, my experience with LEAD showed me that being more intentional about communicating my leadership goals would empower me to leverage them more effectively while remaining true to my priorities. LEAD showed me that the aspects of my leadership style which I have historically viewed as weaknesses are not weaknesses at all; as I cultivate my presence in the workplace, I now want to be known for my patience, acceptance, and compassion, but also for my capability and trustworthiness. Recognizing that I can be both patient and compassionate while also being an effective leader who drives change has really changed how I approach leadership opportunities in my workplace.

Chicago Booth Evening MBA student Meredith Braun

"My experience with LEAD showed me that being more intentional about communicating my leadership goals would empower me to leverage them more effectively while remaining true to my priorities."

— Meredith Braun

Jamaine: LEAD increased my awareness, not only of myself but also of my peers and co-workers. LEAD refined my listening abilities, encouraging me to listen more and talk less. As a result, the effectiveness of my decision-making and collaboration abilities have been heightened.

Dhimant: I had three takeaways from LEAD. The first was Relationship, Collaboration & Feedback. LEAD taught me how to establish and maintain relationships and how to more effectively collaborate with multicultural and global cross-functional teams. Thanks to the LEAD program at Chicago Booth, I developed insights in this area and was able to turn these insights into actions and better identify obstacles and turn them into opportunities. The second takeaway was Diversity and Inclusion. Diversity can foster an innovative culture and has opened up doors and insights at my workplace. I now know how to build inclusion to foster the right environment for equality, equity, and diversity. The third takeaway was Presence and Influence. Practicing how to influence others has led to my achieving organizational growth at my workplace. Maintaining a positive culture has helped me do my work more effectively and efficiently.

Sally: During our module on Relationships, Collaboration & Feedback, I learned about specific triggers that make us disinclined to the advice or criticism we receive. We also learned how to form more thoughtful feedback that can help alleviate that reciprocal resistance from others. This has made me a much better team member as I am able to recognize when I am being resistant and improve my receptivity to critique. I also give more effective advice that is palatable to others and feel more comfortable while doing so. My communication with my team members has improved as a result.

Booth Weekend MBA student Jamaine Cook

"LEAD laid the foundation for my time at Booth by introducing me to the community, encouraging me to embrace my two-year journey, and opening my eyes to the possibilities and opportunities that exist at Booth."

— Jamaine Cook

Personal Growth: 

How did LEAD expand your self-awareness, and support your self-development at Booth, and in your life? 

Meredith: The various experiments we did in LEAD sessions (including ones we designed for ourselves to perform throughout our work weeks) reinforced my knowledge of some behaviors I already knew about myself as well as brought to light certain biases and misperceptions I have of which I was previously unaware. I found particular value in discovering the misperceptions and assumptions I bring with me, since those impact how I communicate as I move throughout my day-to-day life. Further, they provided clear examples of areas for me to be aware of and improve as I interact with those at Booth and throughout my day-to-day. I was really able to use the knowledge I gleaned from LEAD during my company’s year-end review process — both when reviewing others and when reviewing myself. I found that my resulting conversations were much more productive than in previous years, with more solid recommendations and better transparency, and it is my hope that it is a trend that will feed into all aspects of my life and continue throughout my time at Booth and beyond.

Jamaine: LEAD laid the foundation for my time at Booth by introducing me to the community, encouraging me to embrace my two-year journey, and opening my eyes to the possibilities and opportunities that exist at Booth.

Dhimant: LEAD helped me expand my self-awareness by recognizing my strengths, weaknesses, and hidden biases. LEAD taught me about positive mindset, connecting powerfully, speaking with impact, and developing confidence. Not only has my self-awareness improved collaboration, but it has also improved my networking with current students and Booth alumni.       

Sally: As a leader, I am more focused on mobilizing energy and being a strong advocate for my team rather than exerting control. LEAD gave me useful metrics to evaluate how effective different leadership styles are in different situations, and I actively use them at work and at Booth.            

Booth Evening MBA student Sally Kwok

"As a leader, I am more focused on mobilizing energy and being a strong advocate for my team rather than exerting control. LEAD gave me useful metrics to evaluate how effective different leadership styles are in different situations, and I actively use them at work and at Booth."

— Sally Kwok

Community

How did LEAD help you jump-start your Booth network and support building community during your first quarter at Booth?

Meredith: We were assigned a LEAD HQ, a small group of students who meet weekly during class. This serves as an opportunity to build community, get support, and reflect on class material. My LEAD HQ group was so solid; we got along really well and every time we reconnected at the end of a LEAD session I knew I’d be in for some laughs. Having that space set aside—to be honest with each other as well as share frustrations and ask for feedback on work situations we encountered throughout the week — - was invaluable. I was admittedly pretty skeptical about whether a Zoom breakout group would fulfill me in the same way as if we were in-person, but by the end of the quarter, it felt more natural and we had built a strong rapport.

Jamaine: LEAD introduced me to individuals who have become accountability partners and peers with which I will seek to build long-term relationships. LEAD directed me to the appropriate resources and contacts to help me achieve my goals while at Booth. Additionally, I ended up having a LEAD accountability group rather than a single partner; it was a group of four women. Three of us were from the same LEAD HQ, and one other member was from my LAUNCH (Booth’s orientation) team; it was a blast. At our first meeting, we just enjoyed chatting for so long we almost forgot that we had to set our goals for the assignment, and at our second meeting, we were able to discuss a work dilemma one of us was facing. We all come from different functions and sectors, so it was really enlightening to compare and contrast our experiences. I am so looking forward to being able to meet everyone in person one day because I did truly feel like a part of a little community at a time when I thought I would feel so isolated and separated from everyone else.

Chicago Booth Evening MBA student Dhimant Korant

"I can't imagine being successful at the start of this program without LEAD. It gave us all a huge jump start,  especially when transitioning to an MBA program while maintaining day-to-day responsibilities."

— Dhimant Korant

Dhimant: LEAD provided me with a strong platform to connect with Boothies. Break-out rooms during LEAD sessions provided the opportunity to connect with Booth students and it also gave us an opportunity to share our learnings and ideas. LEAD gave the boost to collaboration, diversity, equity, and networking with classmates. It was very important for each student to establish the connection at the start of the program, in fact I would say this is one of the key factors to success in the Chicago Booth MBA journey. We had a LEAD forum that created a knowledge sharing platform, which was very helpful and insightful. It gave new students the opportunity to think beyond the limits and it created the room for creativity. Learnings from LEAD about relationship building and collaboration helped me to gain stronger support from the Booth network and community. It gave me the understanding on Growth Mindset vs. Not Trying Mindset. Let me put it this way, I can’t imagine being successful at the start of this program without LEAD. It gave us all a huge jump start, especially when transitioning to an MBA program while maintaining day-to-day responsibilities. LEAD is much needed!!!

Sally: LEAD gave me the opportunity to connect with classmates in different case groups and people from other classes. We were able to bond over anecdotes of presentation editing, homework, upcoming club activities, and advice for the following quarter. As a result, I recognize and feel comfortable reaching out to a large group of people (despite remote learning), and I also have a better sense of who are the best people to contact when I need certain career or course advice.

Learn more about Booth’s Leadership Development Resources

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