5 Good Reads for Any MBA

One key to being a strong contributor in an ever changing world is to continue your education outside of the classroom.  Here are some great social science and business books to get you started:

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Besides being a very interesting read, this book really helped me understand the role that luck plays in success.  Through the stories of success and failure that Gladwell describes, I gained a new awareness for the importance of being open to the opportunities all around us, obvious and not.  Gladwell artfully details how small, seemingly insignificant details of a person’s life can have a profoundly transformative effect and what truly makes for outlying success is a combination of skills and opportunity, not all intellect or luck alone.

Streetlights and Shadows: Searching for the Keys to Adaptive Decision Making by Gary Klein

This was my assigned book for the class, so I have a particular bias towards it.  However, I credit this book with helping me evolve my decision making skills.  A lot of times management literature will camp out on the extremes of totally data driven decision making or totally instinctual decision making. This book discusses the pros and cons of each method and recommends a decision making framework that blends the best of both worlds.  Essentially, once we develop an expertise through methodical decision making practice, we can begin to rely on our instinctual cues, which is crucial to decision making in crises.

Talent is Never Enough by John C. Maxwell

Maxwell’s book makes the argument that raw talent is not the only determining factor for success in business or the workplace.  In fact, raw talent coupled with poor social skills or low self-awareness will often lead to negative consequences.  This book emphasizes that talent must combined with diligence and continual effort towards improving oneself.  A lesson that is fairly common sense, but cannot be reinforced enough.

Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality  by Dan Ariely

These two books discuss the human predilection towards irrational behavior.  Reading about Ariely’s experiments alone is interesting, but he couples his research with a commentary on how we can use our irrational tendencies to our benefit.  Or at the very least how understanding and accepting these tendencies will help us make decisions in concert with them, leading to less disastrous consequences overall.  Sometimes management books discuss these tendencies and the prevailing message is that we must figure out how to subdue them.  What Ariely describes is a much more realistic view of the problem.

The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman

I read this book at the very beginning of my MBA (back in 2009) and I constantly make connections between the concepts Friedman discusses and my classwork, professional life, and even personal life.  This book covers the history of the information age, the history of globalization, and more importantly the trends that are taking us into the future.  After reading this book, I felt grounded in the last 30 or so years of business history and I feel that I am somewhat equipped for what’s coming.  More importantly, I am now clued in to the trends and I can see how they are evolving as I follow current events in and out of the business world.

Rediscovering Columbia Through the MBA Program

Olivia Harrison is a first year MBA student. She grew up in Columbia, received her Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry at the University of Missouri, and decided to complement her technical background with soft skills through the Crosby MBA Program.

As a Columbia native and MU undergrad, being involved in community events is important to me. Columbia has a lot of activities I could participate in, so I have chosen to be involved in groups based on my interests in running, swimming, science, the arts, and community service. I run with the MU Running Club and Columbia Track Club, swim with a masters group at the MU Rec Center, participate in research symposiums at the Life Science Center, and attend events at the University Concert series and Roots N’ Blues Festival.

For me, choosing an MBA program involved more than looking at skills learned in the classroom. It included not only the ability to stay involved in Columbia but also to provide opportunities to use skills I learned in the classroom, attend new events, and become involved in organizations I never would have thought of on my own. For me, being involved beyond my “classroom” study groups comes naturally, so the anticipated time commitment and thought of possibly having to give up these activities made me nervous about starting the Crosby MBA Program. Now as I’m headed into my second semester, I realize I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only am I still involved with these activities, but I’ve also had the opportunity to try things I never would have done on my own.

As an agricultural economics grad assistant, which is outside of the business school, I am able to collaborate with professors in market research and economic development. I receive advice from my undergrad mentors as well as new ones, on numerous topics, such as the latest plant science research, and travelling and life experiences.

Through the Crosby Program’s many networking events, I’ve met Crosby Alumni and local business professionals and learned we have similar interests and are involved in the same organizations in Columbia! Some of the other MBA students and I have volunteered at the Central Missouri Food Bank and have more philanthropic events planned for this semester.

Off campus, I’ve learned about wine by attending a wine tasting at Top 10 Wines.  Some of my best memories are getting together with friends at Flat Branch, Uprise Bakery, Bangkok Gardens, and Sycamore. Recently, I joined a group of friends at the play, Momma Mia at Jesse Auditorium and attended my first art show at PS Gallery. Our networking skills came in handy as we mingled with other guests and even had the opportunity to talk to one of the artists about the inspiration behind her work.

I gave a lot of consideration before fully committing to a full-time, intensive MBA program. I didn’t want to give up the organizations I was already involved in, but the Crosby MBA Program couldn’t have been a better fit. I am still able to stay active in those organizations, but more importantly, I am getting to experience a whole new side of Columbia and make great friends along the way.

Exploring the Business World from an Engineering Mindset

At the Crosby MBA program, students can pursue a variety of concentrations and dual programs to tailor their career and personal aspirations. The flexibility of the program allows each MBA candidate to truly customize his or her degree from an array of options. Kyle Brethower (Crosby MBA ’13) decided to add an MBA to his undergraduate Industrial Engineering degree because he knew the MBA was going to help his future career. Kyle said that the MBA coursework enhanced his BSIE knowledge by providing a more holistic view of an organization and the decision making process.

While enrolled in the Crosby MBA program, Kyle took full advantage of the variety of opportunities that were available. One of these experiences was his summer study abroad experience in Ireland. In the classroom, he learned about the unique Irish business culture and policies that help grow their economy within the Eurozone. Outside of the classroom, Kyle worked on a consulting project for Ina’s Handmade Foods, a family run bakery and food supplier in Ireland. He had the opportunity to work alongside fellow MBA students from various places with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Kyle said he learned to lean on their experiences in order to positively impact the Irish company.

As a Crosby MBA student, Kyle also embraced outside-the-classroom activities which enhanced his learning.  He held a Graduate Research Assistant position with the Office of Technology Management and Industry Relations where he conducted market and prior art research for intellectual property created at MU. In this position, he took a leadership role in organizing a Tech Expo for the entire MU System that showcased technologies developed by MU to over 100 regional investors.  He also served as the CEO of the Crosby entrepreneurial society, C.L.I.M.B.

“The decision to earn my MBA coursework paid off when I started my career search,” said Kyle. He was able to confidently line up potential companies and select which one best served his career goals. Kyle currently serves as an Industrial Engineer at Garmin where he has the opportunity to work with directors in Receiving, Replenishment, Shipping, and Customer Repair. “The Crosby curriculum provided me with the skill set to evaluate the different initiatives and align my projects with each director’s goals and overall objectives of the organization,” says Kyle. “Prospective MBA students should look towards their coursework as an advancement to the next stage in their career. The MBA program they select should align with career goals as well as personal ones.”

Kyle participated in the Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering/MBA combination, one of the dual programs that Crosby offers.  This option allows current BSIE students to begin MBA coursework during their senior year of undergrad and graduate in only one additional year.