This is the second of several posts in our Women of the EMBA series, celebrating the many strong and active women enrolled in the Texas Executive MBA program working to advance their education, build solid leadership skills and open themselves to new opportunities in the world of business. Each post will feature an interview with one of these women, focusing on what led her to the Texas Executive MBA program and highlighting her experience in the program thus far.
Name: Sabrina Duncan
Graduating Year: 2013
Hometown: Barranquilla, Colombia
Current City: Austin
Undergrad Institution: Northwestern University
Undergrad Major: Industrial Engineering
Current Job: Supply Chain for the Americas Region at Continental Corporation
How long has it been since you were last taking classes? How does it feel?
It has been 7 years since I last took classes in school. I need to admit that I was scared at the beginning because I could not imagine myself going back to studying, reading books and writing papers after not doing it for so long. But surprisingly, the classes are a good mix of discussions and assignments and it’s a much more interactive environment than I expected. A plus too, is the fact that the topics we discuss in class apply to issues we have in our current jobs or in life in general. Everything makes a lot more sense than when I was an undergrad!
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at this time? Were you always planning on coming back to school?
Engineering school was hard for me, so no, when I completed my undergrad I thought I would never go back to school. But I’m glad I gave it some more thought. My dad has always emphasized that if you don’t keep learning you fall behind the curve. Trends keep changing the world we live in and work, and school is the right place to keep you current. It seems like this was the perfect time to pursue an MBA given where I am in my career in that I’ve been in my current job for 2 years and felt comfortable in taking on additional challenges.
What made the Texas Executive MBA program the right fit for you?
Its reputation and its format. The UT and McCombs brands travel well globally so picking the school was a no-brainer. Of all the options McCombs has available the Executive MBA format was the better fit for me. I live in Austin but commute 50 miles to work, so it would have been hard to leave work during the week and make it on time to class. Additionally, the Executive MBA program is a shorter program in duration.
What aspect(s) of the program stand out most to you as a student and how so/why?
How varied the curriculum and student body are. The way the curriculum is setup allows for studying multiple disciplines in the business field in such limited time. There are also a wide range of electives to take if you wish to specialize on a specific subject. With regards to my class, it’s amazing how many different backgrounds, industries and cultures we have represented. It’s truly fascinating to engage in discussions with such a diverse audience. Lastly, I have to say that another aspect that I love about this program is how easy the administration makes life for you! Pretty much all of the administrative nuances are taken care for you. The staff is extremely helpful.
What are your goals moving forward? How will an MBA help you achieve those?
The answer to this question seems to change as weeks go by. Originally I enrolled in the program because I was looking for a stronger business background that would enable me to continue growing in my current company. With headquarters on the other side of the ocean it becomes more challenging to succeed and make huge leaps in the corporate ladder. However, after a month into the program I begin entertaining the idea of starting my own business. With all the opportunities that McCombs has to offer I feel like it would be a pity if I didn’t take advantage of all the resources to get started.
How do you feel you have grown as a leader since you started the program? Are there certain things that have contributed to your growth or any big accomplishments/learning moments you can highlight?
I would have to say that the biggest contribution the program has made to my leadership skills is confidence. Since day one, during the intensive seminar your confidence is put to the test when you are asked to interact in multiple activities with 64 other students that you have just met. It’s a great feeling to find yourself surrounded by so many bright students and respectable professors and be able to contribute with your own experiences. This program too is like taking an aptitude test. You get to know yourself really quickly and this allows you to bank on your strengths and work on your weaknesses as a leader.
Anything else you would like to share?
Before applying I was very intimidated by the average years of work experience that the Executive MBA is known for. I thought the 7 years I had couldn’t compete. I recall meeting with Dr. Burrows to review my resume and he encouraged me to apply. I am very glad I did because I might only have 7 years of experience, but in this program everyone has something to learn and something to teach. Your classmates and professors will definitely challenge you, but you will also get an opportunity to share your point of view and spark some interest.
We wish Sabrina the best as she pursues her academic and business goals. Can you picture yourself sitting in a classroom filled with talented professionals like Sabrina? If so, you can learn more about our Executive MBA program by visiting www.mccombs.utexas.edu/mba/EMBA.