How to choose an MBA program when you are successful

A Day in the Life of Gloria L. the President of a company that designs and makes medical devices

What I Do

My company is privately held with five people and was founded in 2011. We make medical devices that remove obstructions; technically, we outsource the manufacturing. I started the company in my second year of the MBA program at Babson as part of the entrepreneurship intensity Track (EIT) for which 25 of us were selected to participate. This enabled me to launch the company in the safe environment of the school while getting all the advice of faculty, office space, and funding before graduating with the MBA.

A major part of my role as president, especially in the early stages, was securing funding. Because of our small size, I do most everything: financials and budgeting, fundraising, strategic planning, some engineering, and interfacing with the outside world.

The other members of the organization include a research-and-development engineer, a quality engineer, and a sales and marketing person.

What I Enjoy Most

I love being my boss and leading the company in the direction I think it should go. I like performing a variety of tasks and constantly learning.

What I Enjoy Least

Fundraising. I did this in a weak economy, and it’s tough because I’m not a natural networker. What I’ve learned is how to be very smart about finding a targeted fit with [those from] whom I am seeking funding. Also, I have learned that selling is as much about trust, reliability, and honesty as about the business idea. Once I figured that out, I became more confident going out there.

Why I Chose This Career

After my surgeon partner and I had invented the device, he wanted me to run the business to produce the device while he remained as a full-time surgeon. This is why I went to business school. I had a lot of engineering design exposure but no real exposure to running a business. You can learn about running a business on the job, but when you are using other people’s money, you need to get it right the first time around.

Desirable Traits to Be Successful in This Career

Networking is a big piece of all business—from selling your idea to customers or potential employees to fundraising. Practice networking at every opportunity. MBA programs build in many such opportunities if you take advantage of them. Networking is not a skill you acquire as an engineer, and it is something I have had to learn very deliberately.

The ability to multitask and be pretty good at lots of things is more important than being really good at one or two things. A big-picture focus helps you step back and analyze, Is this where I thought we’d be? What do I need to do differently now?

Words of Advice If You Are Considering This Career Path

Get solid work experience before pursuing the MBA. Even if you think you want to be an entrepreneur, you need to work first. Everything in business school builds off of what you’ve done. I could not be doing what I am doing now without the knowledge from working at a company like Johnson & Johnson (J & J). I learned about the medical device industry as well as managing employees, dealing with regulatory agencies, and quality initiatives—all things J & J does with the highest standards. Even with the best MBA Healthcare education in the world, I would not want to be running a company without that base of work experience.

What I Did Before This (Including Pre-MBA and Post-MBA Jobs)

I started my career with the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency because they had funded my undergraduate study. Then I joined Johnson & Johnson Orthopedics as a Design Engineer for hip implants and instruments. After three years, J & J merged, which would have resulted in a geographic move, so I took a position at Gillette for one year, where I designed toiletry containers.

During this time, I also started working with the co-founder of my current company. He was and still is a practicing surgeon. He saw needs that led us to design a device together—the device we now have. That effort is what led me to business school.

Educational Background (Undergraduate, MBA, Other)

  • MBA, Babson College, Franklin W. Olin Graduate School of Business, Entrepreneurship, 2011
  • Master of Science, Stanford University, mechanical engineering (design), 2005
  • Bachelor of Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, mechanical engineering, 2004

In MBA Programs, I’d Suggest You Look For…

Choose specific programs that have expertise in what you want to do. Because I started looking at business schools after having a product idea and knowing I wanted to start a company, I looked for entrepreneurial concentrations or an MBA curriculum specialized toward that. Babson’s entrepreneurial program and reputation attracted me most of all, and I was lucky enough to be there when they launched the EIT program. I think people often pick a school just based on a name. You need to pick a curriculum that meets your goals.

A smaller size was also important to me [because of]my previous academic life. I knew the smallness would be more comfortable for me.

For me, the full-time, two-year program was the way to go. I wanted to be fully engrossed and get the full experience. There is so much learning in the integrated classes (not part of the evening classes), and in the team process, you get in a full-immersion program.