Learning from – and for – the Real World

by Amina Kasumov (MBA ’16)

I enrolled in Golden Gate University in April of 2014 with the hopes of obtaining my Master of Business Administration degree. I’m proud to say that as of April 2016 I am a Golden Gate University MBA graduate. In my time at GGU, I was able to explore many different facets of business through the diverse curriculum of the program, which gave me a well-rounded perspective on how to succeed in the real-world of business.

Though I obtained a great deal of value from all of the classes I was a part of and from the instructors that I was fortunate enough to be taught by, one class greatly resonated with me. In the fall term of 2015, I was part of a Management Leadership course taught by Professor Jeffrey Yergler. One of the learning outcomes of this course was to be able to “evaluate, support, and cultivate effective leadership approaches in organizational setting.” I recall one assignment where we were tasked with evaluating the significance of leading by example, and examining the approaches taken by certain companies in the process. For this assignment, I wrote about the importance of developing practices and maintaining a company culture that is consistent with the organization’s core values. I also reflected on the importance of leading by example, ensuring that values and actions were consistent from leadership to the lower ranks.

I was able to explore many different facets of business through the diverse curriculum of the program, which gave me a well-rounded perspective on how to succeed in the real-world of business.

The appointment of Uber’s new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, serves as a recent example of these issues. In the article that I saw in Recode,  he admitted that after over 12 years of being a CEO for Expedia, transitioning to this new appointment was a tough decision. He was also quoted saying: “I have to tell you I am scared.” What does this transparent response say about him as a leader? A frequently quoted management consultant, Peter Shaehan, explains that, “if you want a culture of creativity and innovation, where sensible risks are embraced on both a market and individual level, start by developing the ability of managers to cultivate an openness to vulnerability in their teams.” The tone that Khosrowshahi is setting in this early stage is already vastly different from what the company experienced with the previous CEO. It may be too early to tell what this new appointment will do for the company, but it seems that he is starting off on the right foot.

In the Management Leadership class, we also focused on similar hot topics in the news such as an article in the NY Times at the time about Amazon being a “bruising workplace,”  and participated in robust discussions about them. With students from different countries, different industries, and different levels of professional experience, we heard various perspectives on issues like these. One of my favorite things about this class experience was the insightful conversations that took place among the classmates. GGU’s diverse student body presents an opportunity for students to not only learn from the professors, but also gain valuable knowledge from the perspectives of their peers.

When I read about CEOs of world-renowned corporations stepping down or being scrutinized, or of decisions made by those in political leadership roles, I consider the classroom discussions that these events would inspire. I wouldn’t have been as able to assess these events the way I do today without the knowledge I gained in this course.

Another thing I appreciated about the classroom experience at GGU is how the courses are developed to provide valuable knowledge that can be applied to the real-world by evaluating real-world examples such as Uber and Amazon. In this class, many of our conversations were around the actions of CEO’s and other C-level executives of well-known companies—such as Toyota, Johnson & Johnson, GE and many others—and applying the theories we were learning directly to these examples.

Having completed my degree, I often think back on some of the conversations that took place in the classroom. When I read about CEOs of world-renowned corporations stepping down or being scrutinized, or of decisions made by those in political leadership roles, I consider the classroom discussions that these events would inspire. I wouldn’t have been as able to assess these events the way I do today without the knowledge I gained in this course.”

Dr. Jeffrey Yergler on the Management Leadership Course
“This course offers a unique approach to understanding who the leader is, the practice of leadership, and the impact of leadership on people and performance. By examining a number of leadership approaches, students are able gain specialized knowledge not only about which leadership approach would work best in a particular organizational setting but also the degree to which a particular leadership approach would be an excellent match for the student’s own exercise of leadership in their respective organizations.”

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