Navya Manningi wanted to differentiate herself from her colleagues in education, and the Iowa MBA gave her that strategic edge.
Pivot from specialized to sky’s the limit
For Navya Mannengi all roads lead back to Tippie – and it started with earning her BBA in Finance and Management.
Yet like many others, she found herself working outside her original field of study. She discovered a passion for people and programs as an undergrad through her involvement in organizations like Women in Business, Dance Marathon, the Honors Program, and the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. This led her to a role in education first as an Admissions Counselor at Drake University, then in International Student Services at Iowa State University.
After a few years, she saw the Iowa MBA as a bridge back into business.
“When I was looking at my career growth, I knew that I wanted to bring in a strength that other people on my team didn’t have,” she explains. “I also wanted to get a degree that gave me a toolbox of skills and not just one skill that would push me into one position. I realized that an MBA was the right choice.”
Right program, right time
Initially, Navya was looking at traditional, full-time MBA programs. Then COVID hit – and her perspective shifted.
“I knew a ton of schools were going remote, but I still wanted to attend a good school, be close to family, and have the flexibility to be able to work and do classes,” she explains. “Since I already loved Tippie, I looked into the program – and it all added up.”
Even without the in-person element, the program’s value was still evident. And in a post-COVID world, there’s once again the option to attend class in Iowa’s Des Moines and Cedar Rapids campuses.
“I was really looking forward to the networking aspect of an MBA program and meeting my classmates. I was pretty bummed out to miss that,” she admits. “But since the curriculum was project-based and discussion-led, not just lecture slides, I got the substance that I needed, even though it was virtual.”
Making space for an MBA
In the midst of COVID, while still working full-time, Navya found a way to fit the Iowa MBA program into her schedule. Her efficient approach to time management is one worth following.
First, she had a critical conversation with her supervisor. Together, they made some adjustments to Navya’s schedule to accommodate her educational goals. They agreed in advance that if the work still got done, her schedule could be more flexible.
Secondly, she also prioritized rest and self-care. Even without the demands of children or a family, finishing the program in 2 years wasn’t easy. Luckily, Navya found ways to organize her time.
“I had to make sacrifices, but in the end, they were worth it,” she says. “I did homework every weeknight, and blocked time off on my work calendar to study. I even managed to reserve Saturday & Sunday nights for me-time, so I didn’t go crazy,” she laughs.
Onward & upward
While still in the program, Navya landed a promotion to Director of Student Success. She credits the Iowa MBA with helping her differentiate herself from her peers and stand out in the hiring process.
“Even during my interview, I was answering questions with a very strategic plan because of what I was taught,” she says. “And since I also earned a Marketing Certificate, I mentioned improving marketing and engagement numbers as well. It gave them confidence to hire someone with that skillset.”
She now has her sights set on an entirely new career in IT/tech, an ambition she hopes to pursue in the next few years.
“The MBA opens doors to many industries and many fields. I don’t think I could transition from education to IT without having an MBA on my resume.”