Five Unexpected Ways an MBA Can Boost Your Career
A recent graduate reflects on the highlights of her Online MBA journey.
Kristina Dill-Wilfon is finding her footing in a role that she never knew existed.
Inspired to help children like her daughter, who has asthma, the Austin native initially studied to become a respiratory therapist. She practiced for a year before deciding to combine her clinical work with a marketing role that afforded her more scheduling flexibility. She progressed to a clinical manager role with a healthcare management service company while earning a bachelor’s degree in business. Not long after graduation, she knew she was ready to round out her education with an MBA.
“I work in healthcare, and the Baylor name is a big deal,” she said. “It is highly ranked, aligns with my faith and is not too far away. It just hit all the marks for me.”
Balancing two jobs with two children and a graduate program is not for the faint of heart, but Kristina successfully completed an Online MBA (OMBA) with a specialization in Global Trade and Supply Chain Management. Before graduating, she landed a new role as supply chain integration manager for The Resource Group, a subsidiary of Ascension—an ideal blend of healthcare and supply chain management that had never come across her radar.
Below, Kristina teams up with Amine Qourzal, assistant director of the Baylor University Career Center, to identify five unexpected ways that a Baylor MBA fuels career success.
1. A network that reaches far and wide
Even when she is nowhere near campus, Kristina has lost count of the number of times that someone has noticed her Baylor sweatshirt and stopped to chat.
“We like to say we are the largest mid-sized university in the world, because wherever you go, you will find a Baylor Bear,” Amine said.
At a recent National Black MBA conference she attended, Kristina was struck by the overwhelmingly positive responses from company representatives who were familiar with her program. She attributes the strength of the Baylor network, in part, to the rigor of its programs.
“Baylor really makes you work for the degree,” she said. “They do not hand anything to you.”
2. Camaraderie that is not diminished by distance
Like many students enrolled in Baylor’s Online MBA program, Kristina did not know what to expect in terms of friendship and camaraderie. The demands of work and parenthood left little margin in the day, and she consistently identified time management as the greatest challenge she faced. Fortunately, she found a group of people who were in the same season of life.
“Only a few of my friends were juggling the same things as I was while I was in school,” she said. “The people I connected with at Baylor understood my struggle.”
Through her program, she made close friends from around the country.
One of the things that sets Baylor apart, according to Amine, is the collaborative, collegial nature of its programs.
“It’s the opposite of other programs where students are cutthroat or hyper-competitive,” he said. “People form long-lasting relationships as they work toward a common goal.”
In addition to connecting virtually, Online MBA students also have ample opportunity to meet in person through networking events.
“Anyone considering the Online MBA program should be confident that they will experience the same networking benefit,” Amine said.
3. Listening skills that enable conflict resolution
Kristina credits her communications courses with sharpening her ability to navigate sensitive conversations at work.
“Everyone thinks they can listen, but not everyone can actively listen to information and integrate it into their work well,” she said. “My communications training has helped in every aspect of my life.”
In a previous role as a clinical manager, she and her team struggled to understand how a C-level executive was making decisions regarding which patients to accept. After taking a strategic communications course, Kristina felt confident enough to call a meeting with the executive and listen more carefully to the reasoning behind her decision-making process.
“Rather than being two people in an email thread, we were sitting across a table trying to understand each other's reasoning,” Kristina said. “These conversations helped us build greater trust.”
4. Ability to bridge departments and functions
From Amine’s perspective, the generalist nature of Baylor’s MBA program makes students more versatile.
“Our curriculum equips students with the tools they need to plug and play in any function, company or industry,” he said. “There is a high demand for candidates who are ready to fit into any environment and learn.”
While Kristina gained specialized skills through her program, especially in classes related to her specialization, she found that the core curriculum has broadened her perspective and improved her value as a team member.
“After finishing my degree, I better understand the impact that even small operational decisions can have on colleagues and patient care initiatives,” she said.
Equipped with a broader lens, Kristina is more adept at speaking the language of colleagues across functions.
5. Technical skills to make a career pivot
“Our MBA programs form a launchpad for growing, moving up and pivoting,” Amine said. “The beauty of the program is that students like Kristina have the tools they need to move in a new direction and make an impact.”
Becoming a supply chain integration manager has allowed Kristina to combine her twin passions, healthcare and supply chain management. Leveraging the specialized knowledge she gleaned from her specialization in Global Trade and Supply Chain Management, she is well-positioned to navigate the complexities of vendor contracting in a new setting.
For Kristina, earning an online MBA required daily sacrifice.
“It is never easy to take time away from family,” she said, “but in the long run, this experience was an investment that is already paying off.”