We hear from two graduates how studying an MBA helped them become innovative leaders and challenge the status quo in business
Challenging existing ways of thinking and doing, taking risks and developing innovative solutions – this is what it means to challenge the status quo in business.
For business leaders, adopting this ethos may be the secret to getting ahead. But where do you start?
We spoke to two graduates about how their MBA studies prepared them with the mindset, vision and leadership skills to think outside the box and advance their careers.
Developing an Entrepreneurial Mindset
Although some people may be born entrepreneurs, it requires work to develop a strategic and flexible entrepreneurial mindset to tackle today’s business challenges.
Having worked in startups throughout her career, Caroline Baten had an insight into growing business ventures, but she began to recognize areas for improvement.
“From my experience, I could feel that things were not strategically ideal within companies, but could not find the root of the problem. “I wanted to learn more about business so I could solve problems more effectively,” says Caroline.
That’s when Caroline decided to enroll in the full-time MBA program at Valerik Business School in Brussels, a program that focuses on molding entrepreneurial leaders.
It certainly had the desired effect because a few years after graduating, Caroline launched her own company, Dresser – an online membership platform focused on encouraging conscious consumerism through fashion rentals.
“The only reason I felt confident starting Dresser was because I had the foundation given by Valerik,” she says.
During the program, students participate in an intensive week-long business game in which teams compete to run the best company. Integrated management practice helps students understand what is needed to take a company to market and how to leverage the skills of your team for success.
“I have very good memories of that course. “This was when I first started feeling the entrepreneurial spirit,” says Caroline.
For Carlos Ramirez, an international student from Costa Rica, the motivation for pursuing the MBA was to advance his career and think more innovatively as a project manager, especially as the real estate development company he works for Was taking on bigger projects and expanding into new areas.
“The entrepreneurial mindset is about creating solutions within a company. “The MBA encouraged me to take risks, enabled me to have difficult conversations and manage the people around me,” says Carlos.
Focusing on creating a positive impact
With new obstacles constantly arising – sustainability regulations, the increasing urgency of the climate crisis and socio-economic challenges – creating positive impact in business is not as straightforward as it may seem. Business leaders need to challenge the status quo to think about new ways to create impact, while also growing their business and making profits.
In launching Dresser, Caroline is focused on combating issues with sustainability in the fashion industry by changing consumer habits.
“Our mission is to normalize rentals with the goal of reducing the negative impact of the fashion industry by increasing wear per item,” she says.
The business model of Dresser—just a three-year-old company—is built on scale. This means that as the company grows into new markets and works with even more brands, the logistics will remain the same. However, Caroline also knows the importance of adaptation.
“Once you have a vision, how you get there may be challenged, but don’t compromise the vision of the company,” she says.
To help grow their business and provide valuable experience for aspiring leaders, Caroline invited MBA students from Valerik Business School to launch a company project with Dresser.
“This is something I recommend to all fashion designers and business owners who are doing everything themselves. “There are a lot of motivated, talented, young people who want to learn and have great ideas to help the company,” says Caroline.
In the Valerik MBA program, students get the chance to work with a company and gain valuable experience as they work toward their career goals through a two-month Knowledge-in-Action Project.
facing new challenges
Risk-taking, challenge-hungry business leaders are eyeing new opportunities. However, it is important to be prepared with the skills and knowledge before jumping in blind.
“I knew I wanted to study abroad and combine my technical skills with a more holistic understanding of business. I wanted to be a great leader in finance, legal, marketing and commercial terms. “A jack of all trades,” says Carlos.
After enhancing his business expertise and entrepreneurial skills in the Valerik MBA program, Carlos was inspired to take a leap in his career. He co-founded a startup in Costa Rica called Indy – a platform to provide gig economy workers in Latin America access to financial and health solutions and benefits. He says the company raised over $150k in funding in its first year.
Carlos later chose to return to his career in real-estate at Garnier & Garnier in Costa Rica, and used his learnings to move up the career ladder to the role of Senior Project Manager. Her MBA studies and experiences leading a startup exposed her to new ways of thinking and gave her a broader perspective of the business, so she is better positioned to lead and innovate in her role as the company grows. Be in.
Carlos is leading Garnier&Garnier into larger projects in the residential and hospitality sectors. He is currently part of the team leading the development of the first Waldorf Astoria hotel in Costa Rica.
“The MBA and the experience of building a company taught me to look at my work and life with an entrepreneurial mindset and look for solutions and opportunities to grow,” he says.
During the Valerik MBA program, Carlos had leadership coaching sessions where he was able to explore his own leadership styles and understand how they aligned with his values.
“As a project manager, you’re the person in the driver’s seat to make sure things get done, but leadership also means getting along with your team, communicating and making it an enjoyable work environment, ” he says.
She added that studying abroad and being surrounded by such a diverse group was also extremely beneficial to her leadership development.
He concluded, “Adopting to a new country and being able to meet people of so many nationalities taught me a lot about innovative problem-solving and what it means to have an entrepreneurial mindset as a program.”