By Matt Brocks
Going back to school in my 30s wasn’t something I originally planned.
I studied business as an undergraduate and switched into an enjoyable consulting career after earning my master’s degree in industrial and labor relations. Yet my dad always told me that “your education is something that can never be taken away from you.” After some reflection on his advice and some prodding from a partner at my firm, I decided an MBA would be a great addition to my resume.
Given my education and experience, I only considered accelerated one-year programs. Kellogg’s One-Year program clearly emerged as the program for me thanks to my interactions with students and alums and my experience at Day at Kellogg (DAK).
As a 1Y, I recognized that time would be precious, and I wanted to ensure I maximized my time in Evanston. After giving some thought to how I would use my time in school, I landed upon a few guidelines to help shape my experience:
“Eat my vegetables”
I could have focused on Human Resources or Marketing and Supply Chain, topics I’d previously studied and applied in roles at various firms and clients. However, I felt not pushing myself to grow stronger in the areas I was weakest in would have negated the purpose of taking time off from a lucrative career. Taking MBA-level finance classes at a top program challenged and humbled me, but it helped me close the gap in my skill set, improved my ability to impact clients and strengthened my ability to reach my personal goals in real estate and hospitality investing.
Explore new areas of interest
It was while scanning the fall course offerings for a class that would fit my schedule that I came across Kellogg’s Real Estate Finance and Investments course. Most classes at Kellogg are agnostic of any particular industry (e.g. a marketing class at Kellogg might cover everything from dog food to banking to motorcycles), yet here was a class focused on a particular industry I knew virtually nothing about.
I decided to take this class for two reasons: I knew nothing about the topic and it enabled me to finish classes in time to enjoy an afternoon run before sunset.
Yet REF&I represented a turning point for me.
It turned me onto an industry that grabbed my interest and I could see myself pursuing in the future. It also reinforced the finance concepts that needed reinforcing (see “Vegetables” above). I continued to study real estate throughout the year and capped off the year by captaining the team that would represent Kellogg in the Kellogg Real Estate Venture competition (an invitational competition against other top MBA programs from across the world). This would not have happened if I never took the opportunity to explore new areas of interest.
Build my confidence and network to make things happen
I’ve often thought about running my own company (what type or industry is still TBD, but the desire is there). In an era when people switch jobs more frequently than some opt to visit the dentist, an era in when doors open (and close) with little advance notice, I believe two things are increasingly important:
(1) Having the technical skills and confidence to recognize and successfully act upon a given opportunity
(2) Having a network of advisors and friends to help test, refine and strengthen any concept or idea.
School and experience inherently provide the first, but it was my time at Kellogg that provided the second, in spades I might add. The Kellogg community is made up of a diverse group of students (and their significant others, known as “JV’s”), faculty and administrators from across industries, regions and backgrounds. We arrive in Evanston as strangers, but form incredibly strong bonds over challenging lectures, intricate case studies, travel experiences and other social outings.
This year provided the opportunity to meet and grow close to current and future thought leaders, CEOs and burgeoning entrepreneurs, and it is their friendship I will lean on and learn from as I continue to carve my own path.
Kellogg offered me an amazing experience, and the 1Y program gave someone like me the product offering that best met my needs to help capitalize on future opportunities. The time spent in Evanston was brief, but the guidelines I set for myself helped maximize my time and enabled me to enjoy a year that transformed the way I think and how I will interact with the world going forward.
Matt Brocks graduated from Kellogg’s One-Year MBA program in June 2015 with a major in Management & Strategy. In fall 2015 he will be returning to Deloitte Consulting, where he previously spent four years serving clients in the healthcare, technology and CPG industries.