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Why a MBA / Leadership Development Program (vs direct hire)?
The key difference between a Leadership Development Program and a direct hire is exposure. From a business perspective, the purpose of an LDP is to find and develop the future leaders of the company and so it’s important that you’re exposed to the opportunities needed to be a strong leader.

An LDP exposes you to different groups in the company, different functions, and different challenging problems and situations. You’ll build relationships and network with many people, including senior leaders. At Liberty Mutual, senior leaders don’t just act as mentors for LDP participants, they act as sponsors. A mentor gives you career advice, while a sponsor advocates for your advancement.

This exposure (combined with your strong performance) enables you to develop and rise faster in the organization than you might have otherwise as a direct hire.

How strongly did you weigh the location of the program?
Location was very important to me. My wife and I are both from Boston and have family in the area. I went to business school knowing that I would be coming back. It was also important for me to be at HQ so that I could meet face to face with leaders throughout the program.

What to look for in an MBA / Leadership Development Program?
It might seem obvious, but when evaluating any LDP it’s important to make sure leadership and development are core to the program. From a leadership perspective, you want rotations/assignments that allow you to demonstrate and build on your existing leadership capabilities while giving you the opportunity to flex new leadership styles. From a development standpoint, you should look for programs that will give you the space and support to grow in challenging environments. A strong LDP will help you build the foundational skillset and company network needed to be a corporate leader and then once the program ends, put you in a true leadership position to see what you’ve got.

What were the required skillsets and prior experience and how were they evaluated?
Liberty Mutual doesn’t require prior insurance knowledge or experience to be successful in CDP. You’ll want to show intellectual curiosity and the ability to make data driven decisions, but ultimately the most important skillset to have is executive presence. Executive presence is all about your impact on those around you. You want to be able to demonstrate that you have strong emotional intelligence and that you can carefully balance both confidence and humility in your leadership. Executive presence is evaluated throughout the entire interview process from how you walk through your resume to how you communicate your stories for behavioral questions.

What advice and tips can you share with those interested in MBA Development Program?
“A goal without a plan is just a wish” - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. You need to have at least a general understanding of where you want to go and what experiences you’ll need to get there. Every company is different and every LDP is different. Focus less on the product and more on the culture and opportunities. You want to find the best environment to help you achieve your goals. So, ask lots of questions, talk to current participants and alumni of the program and most importantly follow the best path for you.