HEC Montreal alumna Lori Weiss reflects on the soft skills she gained on her MBA one year on.
Now that it has been exactly one year since I graduated from my MBA, it is a perfect time for some post-MBA reflections on all that I’ve taken away from it. I can honestly tell you that it was a worthwhile program that left a lasting impression, though you may be surprised to learn why.
It is not the coursework and lessons that I deem valuable and lasting in my memory. More importantly, it has been the following soft skills that I gained throughout the program have transformed me into a competent business professional:
Almost every single class had a public speaking opportunity. Until the MBA, it had been years since I was asked to present material before a wide audience, and yet, here I was doing it week after week. As they say, practice makes perfect, and you are most certainly guaranteed a lot of public speaking practice throughout the program. Post-MBA, I can confidently speak before a crowd, a strong asset for any businessperson.
Furthermore, the MBA brings together individuals from different countries, professional backgrounds, and cultures. Yet, the constant teamwork forces you to come together for a common goal, to overcome these barriers by using communication skills. I can now manage a diverse team using my written and spoken communication skills, simply because I had the experiences I had during my MBA.
Similarly, when working within a team, someone must step up as leader in order to avoid chaotic situations. Time after time, I found myself carrying the torch, and utilizing my leadership skills to ensure that all parts to the whole would be complete. While before I may have shied away from a position like this, I learned that I was good at keeping the team organized and my colleagues appreciated my management. Now, in my post-MBA career, I am not afraid to step up at work and in other activities, asserting myself and using the leadership skills I developed throughout the MBA.
The MBA also provided a platform for self-discovery. With such a wide range of courses that are required, it was a chance to learn what I liked or didn’t like and what I was good at or wasn’t. Without that, I never would have known that I should focus on the fields of marketing and strategy, but avoid finance and accounting. Additionally, I am grateful for my entrepreneurship elective which forced me to think into the future for myself and any industry that interested me. Being able to do this midday, without the distraction of a full-time job is something that I owe entirely to the MBA experience. Now, whenever I have a business idea, I am prompted to think of questions about its significance in the future.
From the beginning of the program, we were presented with networking opportunities. They included alumni events, company visits, breakfasts with business executives, etc. Furthermore, the administrators of our program never stopped emphasizing the importance of meeting new people and making a strong positive impression in order to optimize our job prospects. I took this message to heart and got involved in as much as I could during the MBA. I even took a week off from my intensive year-long program simply to volunteer for C2-MTL, a local high-profile conference in Montreal. But it proved to be worth it because I ended up meeting one of the speakers who I kept in touch with and later offered me a post-MBA job opportunity! My networking did not stop at the MBA, though. I continue my networking efforts on a regular basis. It has been a great way to connect with my local community, make new friends, develop my professional circle, and again, practice my communication skills.
The MBA program throws more work at you than you are capable of handling, or so it seems. It feels like an impossible task to take on your regular coursework, along with any other extracurricular activities. And yet, if you opt into this, you somehow get it all done. This is how I learned to manage my time wisely and carefully organize my responsibilities. I was also constantly trying to fit fun into my schedule, rather than simply become a slave to my coursework.
So in the end, it has been the development of my soft skills, and not the hard skills gained from my MBA courses, that have helped me to advance my professional career post-MBA.
About Lori Weiss
Lori Weiss received her MBA from HEC Montreal, where she was awarded the Global Citizenship Scholarship for her Campus Abroad trip to Russia. She is now working in Santa Monica, California as Inbound Sales Manager for Single Grain, LLC, a digital marketing agency. Prior to pursuing her MBA, Lori acquired five years of work experience as a Communications Manager for a Canadian Immigration law firm. Lori enjoys blogging and maintains her blog, Lori Weiss, MBA, where she talks about business, Silicon Beach, and her life on the west coast.