It was early 2014 and I was ready for a change. I had a background in tech but had spent a few years working at my family’s natural food business. It was time to think about my next move professionally. With uncertainty around what I wanted to do next, I thought doing an MBA would unlock some opportunities to change industry or career. It seemed like the perfect timing: I was single, confident at work and had the bandwidth to take it on. Plus, I was ready to work with a new peer set that would push me. I was thirsty for a new challenge.
Having spent about ten years in the professional world, a traditional two year program wasn’t right for me. I wasn’t ready to step away from my career for that long, and I would be at the top end of the experience range in the class. Executive MBAs were the next option. But, with many of the programs running evenings and weekends, I was worried I would spend the next two years in continuing to work in Chicago, tied up in classes during my free time. I wouldn’t be able to duck away on the weekends to Miami for some Vitamin D or NYC for a dose of the global vibe I loved. Plus that meant no geographic work mobility for two years. Evening or weekend MBA programs were too limiting for my professional and personal life.
An executive modular program seemed to be the perfect option. These programs involve intensive modules throughout the year with self-work in between. What if I did one of these programs in a location I wanted to further explore? I could use this opportunity to travel, see the world and get a fancy degree!
I immediately thought about internationally focused universities. LSE was the first school to come to mind. After some initial research, I found out about the Executive Global Master’s in Management. It wasn’t an MBA but the curriculum seemed similar. Three cities (London, Istanbul, Singapore), 7 modules and a more theory (rather than case-study) based approach. My background was mostly in small business and startups, and an understanding of theory was an area I wanted to develop. I was intrigued by this MBA alternative.
I reached out directly to Becky Coggins, the head of admissions, and she put me in touch with some students that were in the program at that time, including Michelle Velan. Michelle and I connected immediately, and I found out that the group doing the LSE program was very diverse from a gender, nationality and current career perspective. LSE offered more diversity than the MBA programs I was looking at. This diversity would help me see things differently, and question the way I have always looked at things.
At that point I had decided that the curriculum, program structure and peer set were a match. Everything moved really quickly from there. I was admitted and began the program. Along the way, I fell in love with London and decided I wanted to consider working in tech again. Fast forward to now, and I’ve moved to London, graduated and begun a role at LinkedIn. The Executive Global Masters in Management at the LSE was the first step in this transformation. It allowed me to get a taste for London, expose myself to a more global business mindset and build relationships with some incredible people. The degree helped me get a “foot in the door” at LinkedIn and other potential employers. Deciding to come to the LSE was the impetuous for my change geographically, professionally and personally, and it’s a decision I will always pinpoint as transformational.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Leila Uslander, Account Director at LinkedIn, works with companies to help them leverage the network to achieve their strategic objectives. She has broad industry experience across retail, food, tech and manufacturing with change management and digital transformation as the common thread throughout her career. In her spare time she likes to explore the world through food, share the wonders Chicago (her hometown) has to offer and strategise how she will balance life after she brings her dog to London. Follow her on LinkedIn.