In February 2020, I was living in Chicago when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and created lockdowns around the world. At the time, I had been in my role at Google for only 7 months and was uncertain about what the future would hold. As an individual who is passionate about self-development, I wanted to continue growing professionally. I was seeking to develop decision-making and influencing skills that would enable me to thrive in ambiguity, adapt proactively, and become a more impactful leader, even if the rest of the world was shutting down.
During this time, I discovered Kellogg’s Evening & Weekend Program (E&W) and its purpose to educate, equip and inspire leaders. I was immediately captivated by the opportunity because I could learn from world-class professors and build meaningful relationships across a diverse professional community. Additionally, Kellogg’s E&W program provided me with the flexibility to complete the experience without putting my career on hold, which was my ideal scenario.
A REWARDING EXPERIENCE
My goal at Kellogg was to expand my existing quantitative skills and establish qualitative characteristics to become a more well-rounded leader. As an evening student, I customized a challenging curriculum focused on Finance and Managing Organizations to ensure I left business school with the tools required to achieve my long-term aspirations of running a company.
Throughout my experience, I was continuously impressed by my colleagues’ pursuit for excellence, which motivated me to bring my best for every class. I appreciated how Kellogg was able to foster a collaborative environment and create a culture of inclusion across students and professors. I am grateful Kellogg emphasizes these values because it afforded me the opportunity to meet individuals from diverse backgrounds and form meaningful friendships that will last a lifetime. Some of my favorite memories included attending the Ski Trip to Breckenridge and the Managers Ball with my cohort. Additionally, playing golf and participating in monthly dinners allowed me to maintain strong bonds with classmates.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Kellogg has been attending recurring monthly dinners with six friends from my cohort. Our group consists of individuals from various professional backgrounds in Finance (Asset Management & Cryptocurrency), Consulting, Oil and Gas, Real Estate, and Technology. This created a unique opportunity to learn about emerging trends and hear different perspectives on relevant topics such as financial markets and AI innovation. While in school, these dinners were tremendously helpful because we discussed classes and professor recommendations based upon personal experience. The group broached other subjects including sports and movies, but the focus was always about learning from one another and building long-lasting relationships.
APPLYING MY KELLOGG EXPERIENCE
In my day-to-day job, I work with Finance teams and professionals across multiple continents. When I was evaluating MBA programs, I prioritized a program that would push me to strengthen my comprehension of complex financial concepts to ensure I could confidently articulate global perspectives to my counterparts in different regions and countries. Through courses such as Macroeconomics, Investment Banking, and Venture Capital, I acquired the quantitative insights to achieve my goals.
One valuable aspect of the E&W program is the ability to immediately apply classroom learning at work. In Sergio Rebelo’s International Finance course, I learned how to navigate international currencies and understand foreign exchange exposure. This information was helpful when I was leading budget planning for a global organization at Google because it provided the knowledge to understand when it makes sense to finance projects in domestic vs. foreign currency.
As a senior program manager in a technical-facing role, my job involves driving cross-functional alignment across different teams such as Engineering, Finance, Operations, and Strategy. Because of this, I wanted to focus on expanding my qualitative skills in communication and negotiation to become a more effective leader. Advanced Negotiations with Nour Kteily taught me how to listen carefully, understand differentiating perspectives, and evaluate situations to identify the root cause of underlying issues.
Recently, I was leading a project across Finance and Engineering teams that expanded domestic operational processes into new international territories. When I started this initiative, the objectives were unclear, and each team had differing perspectives on prioritization and scope. It was evident there were underlying issues and conflicting goals for each team, so I met with both parties independently to diagnose the situation. During each meeting, I applied tactics from my Advanced Negotiations course to identify key goals and motivations from each side.
After meeting independently, I understood what each party wanted to accomplish and the drivers behind their rationale. I used key information to pinpoint similar positions and facilitated a workshop across both teams to bridge the gap and align on mutually beneficial goals. Throughout the remainder of the project, I ensured both parties acted in a collaborative manner and confirmed expectations were clear following each working session. As a result, the Finance and Engineering teams cohesively expanded international operations and agreed to work together on new strategic initiatives throughout 2023.
BECOMING A MORE WELL-ROUNDED LEADER
Leadership development is holistically integrated across all aspects of Kellogg’s MBA, which differentiates the experience when compared against other MBA programs. Throughout the Kellogg journey, students are provided with key frameworks to accelerate their own personal leadership development and challenged with opportunities to ensure their skills are refined in the program.
At Kellogg, I discovered the importance of self-reflection and accountability through Harry Kramer’s Managing Organizations. This course taught me how to manage other’s expectations while maintaining life balance through the concept of 168 (7 days a week x 24 hours a day—how will you use it?). Additionally, I learned how to build authentic relationships and influence others to instill positive change which has made me a more impactful leader.
Managing Organizations was one of the most impactful courses throughout my Kellogg journey because I directly applied the insights into my personal and professional life. On Sunday evenings I reflect about the prior week and evaluate the choices I made. I then think about the upcoming week and assess how I will use the upcoming 168 hours to prioritize key activities and accomplish my weekly goals. This process has developed me into a more well-rounder leader because it instilled accountability into my routines and ensures I maximize productivity to get the most from my efforts.
I am grateful for Kellogg because it provided me the opportunity to develop my personal and professional skills in ways I never imagined. Kellogg prepared me to embrace new challenges, push beyond my comfort zone, and equipped me to become a global leader. As I near degree completion, I can confidently say I learned how to lead by example and became a more effective leader from my Kellogg experience.
Bio: Josh Hribar is a Senior Strategy & Operations Program Manager at Google and will complete Kellogg’s Evening & Weekend MBA program in March. During his free time, Josh enjoys playing golf, running, and exploring new countries with his partner.
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