UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School


MBA student hones her leadership, consulting skills


Neha Jain (MBA ’13)

Working in a recruiting role for Deloitte Consulting, one of the world's largest management consulting firms, Neha Jain (MBA ’13) had visited UNC Kenan-Flagler countless times. When she first came to campus as an admitted student, Jain sent other students into a panic when they spotted her touring the building and thought that they had missed a recruiting session. Apart from the slight confusion caused by her role reversal, Jain felt that her experience as a recruiter helped her find the right program for her.

“It was very interesting to come in and see the transformation as students moved from the first year to the second,” said Jain. “I loved seeing how Kenan-Flagler helped students through this growth period, and I just knew that this was a place I wanted to go as well.”

With a background in information technology and computer science, Jain worked as a senior consultant at Deloitte before attending Kenan-Flagler. While she concentrated on technology solutions, her work at Deloitte also introduced her to the functional side of consulting, which focuses more on business analysis. This exposure peaked her interest, but Jain quickly realized that she would benefit from additional training to succeed in a more business-centric role.

“The more I got into the functional side of consulting, the more I enjoyed it, but at the end of the day I was sitting and Googling everything lots of terms,” said Jain. “Tech was still in my back pocket, but I wanted to explore the functional side more, so I had two options: keep learning through Google or give myself a break and go back to school.”

When she made the decision to pursue her MBA and began to explore different programs, she was drawn to the sense of camaraderie among students at Kenan-Flagler that she had witnessed first-hand in a recruiting capacity.
“When I used to come down here for Deloitte, we would meet with prospective students in small groups. As we all know, when students talk to recruiters they’re competing for time and attention,” she said. “What really stood out at Kenan-Flagler was that students would be encouraging of each other. It was this feeling of ‘we’re all in this together.’”

Once she arrived on campus as student, Jain was happy to share tricks of the trade from her recruiting days to help classmates impress potential employers. She helps them brainstorm ideas for job and internship applications, hosts mock interviews and answers questions about the recruiting process from an insider’s perspective.

To build on her natural tendency to guide and assist her peers, Jain enrolled in the Leadership Immersion, a capstone course designed to help MBA students master core leadership principles. Through “Apprentice”-style challenges, hands-on simulations and individualized coaching from executives, Jain says the immersion has helped her identify and perfect her own unique leadership style. While her experience in consulting had already taught her how to gently and tactfully critique clients’ business processes, the course’s exercises have turned up her antenna even more, allowing her to quickly identify and accommodate others’ sensitivities to keep a team moving forward.

“When I came in I just wanted to expand my business understanding. I didn’t anticipate how much I would be able to strengthen soft skills like leadership,” she said.

In addition to learning the business skills necessary to successfully transition to more function-focused consulting, Jain has used her MBA experience as an opportunity to see the world. During the Global Immersion Elective, a short-term study abroad experience that focuses on international business, she traveled to China and Japan. Jain was also able to visit Thailand, where she got an in-depth look at the local economy as part of a Doing Business In course. In addition, she took advantage of Kenan-Flagler’s exchange program to study at Switzerland’s University of St. Gallen and travel around Europe, exploring everything from cuisine to companies.;

After graduation Jain is looking forward to returning to Deloitte and putting all of these new experiences and skills to use. She’s particularly excited to step back into her recruiting role.

“Now that I’ve gone through this experience myself I think I will be even better able to connect with students,” she said.