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MBA Alumni: Making a Difference

A guest post from Roxanne Hori, associate dean of corporate partnerships at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Hori has more than 16 years’ experience counseling MBA students on careers as head of Kellogg’s Career Management Center.

This past weekend the Kellogg School hosted its 25th Black Management Association Conference – Standing at the Crossroads:  Building on the Past to Execute the Future. It was a weekend full of wonderful speakers with great insight into a number of things, but what struck me most was the wisdom and experiences imparted to the audience by a number of alumni.

The theme focused on crossroads we encounter in life and how to make sure we are learning from our past as we look forward.  From our closing keynoter and through the evening’s dinner, the messages were clear.  It is those messages I want to share with you.

Build your network. If you are in business school or hope to soon enter, pay attention to the people around you.  Network and get to know as many of your peers as possible. One alum spoke about how he wished he had gotten to know a classmate who went on to become a very significant player in the private equity world.  He then went on to talk about the amazing things so many of his classmates are doing and the impact they are having on business and the public sector.

Make an impact. It’s incumbent upon all of us to make an impact on society.  You will be become part of a very select group of people who have the knowledge and skills to make a difference in business and beyond.  There are lots of ways to do it.  Figure it out and go for it.

Pay it forward. You were or are soon to be a beneficiary of the experiences of others.  When you graduate, it is important to give back to your school.  This can take a number of different forms including making a financial contribution to your alma mater, mentoring students and other alums, and helping when asked.  Another alum told us to “be a beacon for those who look up to you.”

You are the role model.  Be mindful of that mantel you will carry.  This means we need to help our fellow alumni connect with others as they strive to achieve their personal and professional goals.  This is a huge responsibility.  But, as each of us has reached those various crossroads in our lives, someone has influenced and been there for us.  We too carry that with us as we progress in our careers.

Think hard about who and what you want to be.  Think about what you want to be remembered for.  Think about who has influenced you, how they have done that and the ways in which you can play a similar role for others

Your end goal should be to find work you love so it never feels like work and to seek out ways you can make an impact in your workplace and beyond.  You have the ability to do this and more because of the tightly connected world in which we live.  You can make it happen.

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