Pivot from engineer to go-anywhere manager

You stand out at what you do, but it’s not all you can do. Reetika Bhandari (MBA09) dazzled in her early technical roles, but she wanted to break into bigger projects and leadership. Not wanting to use the same skill in the same way for her whole career, she dug into an MBA. Her Iowa degree zigzagged her into new positions, boosted her confidence, and answered her questions.

“It was about discovering myself,” she said. “My MBA degree gave me more confidence and made me able to say, 'This is what I want to do and this is what I don’t want to do.'"

You’ve got secret cross-functional superpowers.

Was she capable of being just as successful in other areas as she was in engineering? Reetika suspected she had barely even tapped some of her best skills. An MBA showed her those interpersonal talents were a certainty—and gave her the skills to use them in new areas.

“In my job, I wished there were other strengths I could leverage,” she said. “I thought the MBA would give me an edge from the business and leadership side of things and put the whole picture together.”

Learn it at night, use it by day.

From day one, Reetika was unwrapping her new knowledge at the office and putting those tools to work. Even today, she keeps a class handout at her desk that coaches on the difference between debate and discussion. Though Reetika started the program believing specific classes, like project management, were what she needed, she discovered lifelong lessons in unexpected classes.

“After my finance classes, I’d go back to work and I’d have a meeting and think, ‘That is what I learned!’ I could understand different opinions much better, read my company’s balance sheet much better,” she said. “And I still use that (leadership and team material)—more so now than at first.

Maybe you didn’t know it yet, but you’re what a leader looks like.

When you’ve had a chance to test yourself in the classroom, trying new stuff at work doesn’t seem as risky. With the degree done, Reetika felt resume pride and workplace confidence.

“An MBA allowed me to be myself, to be more open,” she said. “I moved away from some of the technical work and I’ve gotten more happiness and satisfaction. I’m in a leadership position where I work with technical people, but I do not do a lot of technical work myself. I can use my communication and team building.”

You won’t find leadership and team skills in a virtual classroom.

The internet is amazing at a lot of stuff—shopping for jobs, paying bills, finding cat photos. But Reetika wanted the peer and professor interaction and the motivation of a “real classroom experience.”

“You don’t get the same feel for the material or learn as much in a virtual classroom,” she said “Being in a classroom doesn’t compare to anything else. There was a lot of help given to me, even after the courses are done.”