I’m not one to just sit around. Give me a challenge or a new adventure and I’ll probably say yes.
The OneMBA program at Kenan-Flagler Business School is my latest adventure. I’m an attorney by trade and currently work as an in-house lawyer for K2M, Inc., an up-and-coming medical device company outside of Washington, D.C. My current position is director for global compliance, which means I’m responsible for leading and managing my company’s domestic and international compliance program (anti-kickback/anti-corruption laws, FDA regulations, etc.). Prior to going to K2M, I cut my teeth as a lawyer at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP working as an associate on complex commercial real estate transactions.
And yes, working in Big Law was as strenuous and rigorous as it’s rumored to be. Sort of like boot camp that never ends. It’s invaluable training and preparation, however, and I wouldn’t trade the experience. Preceding Big Law, I worked for the FBI as a forensic accountant on the white collar crime squad. At this point people usually ask “Did you carry a gun?” Alas, I did not. I had a blue jacket though that said FBI on the back, and I worked closely with federal agents and prosecutors in putting white collar criminals in jail. By the time I left, I had testified at trial and before grand juries on behalf of the government and did a lot of interesting things in between. It was while I was with the FBI that I embarked on my legal career, going through evening school at George Mason University School of Law.
So why an MBA? Funny you ask. So did my wife. And my three kids. Well, besides being somewhat of a masochist and delighting in heaping a bit more stress upon an already busy life, I knew there were gaps in my business knowledge. And since I hope to stay in business, business school would help fill those gaps and build my credibility with the business leaders I work with. Plus, my company’s sponsoring me, so it’s hard to not to take advantage of those free tuition dollars.
The OneMBA program at Kenan-Flagler is a rigorous 21-month program that takes you to at least six different countries, exposes you to multiple cultures through dynamic global teams, and connects you with engaging professors who delight in finding your limit and pushing you a little past it. Ok, the last part is a slight exaggeration, but not much. I’m with the OneMBA Class of 2014, and we’re scheduled to graduate in 16 months and  days, but who’s counting.
We’re just finishing up our first module in February, and will have 19.5 credits under our belt when that’s done. Our most significant assignment these first few months has been a global leadership project with colleagues in the Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, and Hong Kong. For this project, each of us was assigned to a team of six or seven, and we had to analyze various leadership functions, such as decision making styles and conflict management styles, and see how culture played a role in shaping the styles of leaders in different countries. Each team chose a global company with offices in each of our respective countries and then interviewed leaders within that company. It’s been an illuminating project that culminates with our team paper that’s due within the week.
To date, the executive MBA experience has been demanding but rewarding. Plus, I’m still married and my kids still recognize me. So far, so good.
Lee Lowder is an attorney who is pursuing his MBA at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler’s Business School.