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A useful framework for maximizing the ROI of your MBA

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School MBA Class of 2018 students

UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA Class of 2018 students

The summer before business school has been one of the busiest in my life. I made the conscious decision to maximize what I perceived to be a unique window of opportunity in my adulthood. I traveled abroad to learn about the political and cultural landscape in Cuba, took advantage of pre-business school opportunities through The Consortium and JumpStart Advisory Group, and made the smart choice to strengthen my analytical skills at UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Analytical Skills Workshop (aka ASW).

With so much going on, I haven’t had quite as much time to reflect upon how to truly maximize my time in Chapel Hill as I’d originally hoped. During MBA Orientation, Markus Saba (MBA ’93), professor of the practice of strategy and entrepreneurship and senior director of global commercialization at Eli Lilly, shared a simple yet useful framework to apply to my experience at UNC Kenan Flagler. A true marketer, Markus smartly developed what he calls the “3Ps for success as an MBA student” – a clever offshoot of the renowned “4Ps of marketing.”

Building strong relationships with all of your classmates is perhaps the most talked about aspect of the MBA experience, yet it also appears to be the most elusive task to accomplish given the demanding nature of business school.

Markus challenged us to learn the names of all 299 of our classmates by the end of the second Mod (aka quarter) and focus on connecting with those that hail from different backgrounds than our own.

I don’t doubt that we will need to be intentional about doing so in the thick of the demands that we will encounter as first-year MBAs. I accept both challenges and hope that my fellow classmates do as well, because the relationships we form now will continue to provide value in our lives for years to come.

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School MBA student Dan Johnson with his study group.

Dan Johnson (MBA ’18) with his study group.

This admittedly had not been salient in my mind during the summer, but I now realize that it’s critical to take advantage of some of the most important resources you will find at a top business school: the faculty.

Upon the culmination of our studies in Chapel Hill, we will be presented with new challenges in the workplace and face complex issues that we may not have found answers to in the classroom. Throughout his career, Markus has leveraged his Business School professors as resources and asked for their guidance to help him make difficult decisions in the face of uncertainty. We should learn from his example and make every effort to get to know the business experts who lead us in the classroom at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

Planning is another one of the most talked about subjects in business school. Markus suggests that our planning shouldn’t be limited to just our job search, but should also include the goals we want to achieve in our life as a whole.

To me, there are two things that stood out about Markus’ approaching to planning: that he creates a structured written document outlining his goals, and that he reviews his plan with his wife – as a team – every single year.

The value of writing down and reviewing your goals is evident from Markus’ personal and professional success. It’s a practice any driven MBA should adopt.

I am looking forward to applying the 3Ps to my experience at UNC Kenan-Flagler. Thank you, Markus, for sharing some timely advice with the MBA Class of 2018.

By Dan Johnson (MBA ’18)