Abhinav Airy: Ready for a Change? Enhance Your Career with an MBA

Coming back to the classroom after working full time in an industry can be a fulfilling and valuable experience for an individual looking for professional growth. Abhinav Airy (Crosby ’13) always knew that he wanted to pursue an MBA at some point in his career. After working as an engineer for several years, Abhinav spoke candidly with his manager and decided that pursuing higher education would ensure a fast-paced growth rate in his career. “Coming back to the classroom allows people to equip themselves with solutions and answers to problems that they have faced in the real world,” says Abhinav. “Therefore, I decided to go ahead and take the next step.”

When deciding on MBA programs to pursue, Abhinav began utilizing the many resources available through online servers as well as The MBA Tour. “Eventually, it came down to ten schools, and I applied to six of those. Then I used a spreadsheet to evaluate the best option for me,” Abhinav states. An MBA is an investment, and he knew that he had to determine what he was going to be investing in a program, as well as his return on investment. After running many calculations in worst, average, and best case economic scenarios, Abhinav decided that the Crosby program at the University of Missouri was going to provide the best return on investment for his career growth.

Once he entered the program, Abhinav decided to pursue a business generalist degree instead of a specific area of concentration. “I took classes that interested me or, in some cases, the ones that I felt I needed because of my lack of experience in that particular area,” says Abhinav. In today’s dynamic market setting, the needs of an organization are constantly changing and an MBA graduate should be capable of adapting to various roles and situations. Abhinav explains that he chose the generalist degree because it would help him build these capabilities. “[I believe] for a corporate/business/management strategy role, it is important that one has a well-rounded profile rather than a specific concentration.”

Abhinav currently serves as the Manager of Customer Services at DISH, in which he oversees the deployment of the customer service agents as well as all customer interactions. He was offered the job after a summer internship experience with DISH, where he worked with the direct sales operations team and took on multiple projects within the company. In regards to advice for current or future MBA students, Abhinav suggests, “Think about the bigger overall goal every once in a while, but look towards the milestones that will help reach that overall goal.”

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.