Why a MBA / Leadership Development Program (vs. direct hire)?
An LDP exposes you to a number of experiences that you may not have as a direct hire. The ability to see different areas of the business while you rotate allows you to make a more informed decision on where you want to go after graduation. Rotation also strengthens your business acumen, networking skills, and mental agility.
You also get exposure to many leaders and will have a strong community of other LDPs from Day 1 who understand what you are going through.
Also, an LDP gives you the space to be really thoughtful about the skills you want to develop and the support to actually develop them.
What are the key advantages / disadvantages of being on a MBA / Leadership Development Program?
A key advantage is the breadth of experiences you accumulate, plus the ability to meet many leaders across the business. Another one is that you can try out many things in a safe space e.g., different business, a leadership approach, etc.
The disadvantage is that because you rotate, the depth of knowledge you may acquire may vary or you may only be able to grasp the surface. Also, by the time you may be more comfortable with your role, you need to rotate.
How does the MBA / Leadership Development Program fit in your career goals?
The LDP has enriched my work experience tremendously as I developed new skills that were gaps for me.
I have had the opportunity to lead highly visible projects and enhance my presentation skills. Moreover, I was able to put in practice what I studied during my master's. This program also allowed me to work in a global setting which was something I was looking to do. Overall, in a short period of time I gained new skills and strengthened others that will help me become a stronger HR leader and will help me continue to advance in my career.
How strongly did you weight the location of the program?
It was a decisive factor for me given that I was moving with my husband. If the location had not suited us, I would not have joined the LDP.
What to look for in a MBA / Leadership Development Program?
You want to look for a program that gives you the opportunity to see different areas of the business. This can be through the rotations, networking with leaders, and exposure to interesting projects that will accelerate your learning.
You also want to look for a place that is committed to talent development and gives you access to trainings, conferences, networking events, etc.
Finally, a program that gives you the ability to lead in a safe space to fail fast and learn from it, as this will help you grow both professionally and personally.
Can you summarize the recruiting process you went through and how look it took?
When I applied for the internship program in October of 2015, it took about a week to hear back and an interview was scheduled for the following week. I had a half hour phone interview with an HR Director. Three days later I had a one-hour video interview with another HR Director. The questions were based on Credo, Leadership Imperatives and were behavioral based in nature. A few days later I received an invitation to participate in an in-person event "Discover J&J" to learn about the company and meet with other HR leaders. A week later I received an offer. All told, about a month.
What were the required skillsets and prior experience and how were they evaluated (behavioral interviews, case studies, assessment center, panel interview, etc)?
We were required to have at least four years of work experience and being enrolled in a Master's program.
What they were looking for was the ability to think critically and how we have used data to solve problems or inform our decisions. Other skillsets were learning agility, curiosity, collaboration, and overall display of EQ traits.
This was evaluated mostly through the interviews and during the Discover J&J event where we had to solve a team business case.
What advice and tips can you share with those interested in MBA Development Programs?
Be clear about what you want to get out of the program. Even if you are unsure about what you want to do on the other side, look for a program that will offer you an opportunity to develop skills that you have been looking to develop.
Talk to alumni in the program and learn what their experience was like; finally, pay close attention to the culture of the company and reflect whether that is a type of environment that will allow you to thrive.
What does you average workday consists of?
As an HR Business partner my job consists of ensuring the business I support is functioning properly from a culture and people perspective, so that we can meet business goals. I am typically attending meetings with the business leaders to know how the business is doing and where they need my support. This can be from an organizational design, coaching, or talent management perspective. Understanding the problem allows me to work on solutions, whether it is a training, a reorg. plan, etc. I also have broader projects that I work on to strengthen some of our HR practices and these range from culture, to strategic workforce planning, DE&I, etc.
What are the major challenges or obstacles you have encountered during the program?
I think one of the biggest challenges was adjusting to the corporate environment. Navigating the matric and the size of the company was a bit daunting. Our company is quite large and there are many resources available, but as a new employee it takes time to take it all in.