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From Business School Reject to Owning Two Companies

From Business School Reject to Owning Two Companies main image

Being rejected from your dream school can either give your self-esteem a real blow or motivate you to work harder.

Nataliya Johnson in this instance, didn’t let rejection break her, it only spurred her on to achieve her goal.

She said: “I always had a crush on the idea of doing an MBA. I always knew that’s what I wanted to do, and that I was made for it.

“Somehow that didn’t get through to them [business schools].”

That was 11 years ago.

Today, Nataliya is the owner of two businesses.

We caught up with her at the London QS World MBA Tour to find out more about her story and her passion for business education.

She said: “Everything I wrote in my admissions essay, I decided to achieve in real-life after being rejected. It was one of my top school’s dean who actually said me ‘your goals are going to be really hard to achieve’.

“Well, I proved her wrong.”

Originally from Ukraine, Nataliya now lives in London and has accumulated over 17 years of professional experience.

Before applying to MBAs, she had already acquired a master’s degree in International Business Management from Kyiv National Economics University, participated in a Corporate Finance program at Harvard University and worked at Morgan Stanley.

It was after being rejected from her dream school, Stanford, that she decided to start two UK-based financial investment companies, Vasant Connect Limited and Vasant Capital, for which she was recognized as a global business leader by Catalyst UK.

So why do an MBA?

She said: “I love to study. My family and I have always loved education.

“At the time, I thought an MBA would allow me to build a career faster. I was always internationally-minded and ambitious, and I just wasn’t fully satisfied in my career. I wanted to learn real, commercial leadership.”

Nataliya tells us she’s been attending QS MBA-oriented events for the past two years, hoping to find another program she can “fall in love with” and apply to.

She said: “I always love to empower people. When I see someone talented, I always push them, I say ‘go, go, go!’. But now I want to make it more formal.”

For this reason, Nataliya now has her eye on EMBA programs. She believes an EMBA would allow her to fully develop her leadership skills and achieve her goal of starting a non-profit in a way that a regular MBA couldn’t.

She said: “I’m no longer romanticizing MBAs. I need a fresh start, something for someone who has already started a business and managed people. Plus, I want to keep working, so a part-time degree is really what I’m looking for.”

After meeting university representatives at the London QS World MBA Tour, Nataliya is now considering applying to two British business schools – something she wasn’t expecting.

She said: “I used to be very US, specifically Stanford-oriented. But after years of professional experience I definitely think London is the place for me, and today [the event] has helped.

“I have fulfilled many of my dreams, but not this one yet.”

Written by Linda Mohamed

Linda is Content Writer at TopMBA, creating content about students, courses, universities and businesses. She recently graduated in Journalism & Creative Writing with Politics and International Relations, and now enjoys writing for a student audience. 

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