Why a MBA / Leadership Development Program (vs direct hire)?
I was interested in Leadership Development Programs for three primary reasons. First, many LDPs are rotational, and as someone who wasn’t yet sure about my function of interest, rotational programs provided the opportunity to try different functions while building a variety of skills and learning about different parts of the organization. Second, most LDPs have structured development and mentorship programming. I was excited about the opportunity to continue developing my leadership skills in a formalized setting, even after business school. Finally, being part of an LDP cohort provides a built-in network as you re-enter the workforce. I’ve found the cohort in Liberty’s Corporate Development Program, and the extended network, invaluable as I’ve navigated through my rotations.
What to look for in a MBA / Leadership Development Program?
When evaluating LDPs, I would recommend learning about rotation / role assignment, development programming, mentorship and sponsorship opportunities, and post-program job placement. Rotation / role assignment will help you understand the variety of experience you get expect to gain and the level of input you have in that process. Development programming, as well as mentorship and sponsorship opportunities, helps you understand how you can expect the company to invest in your growth and development. Finally, learning about the post-program placement process is important to ensure you understand how you can expect to find a full-time role and build your career beyond the program.
What were the required skillsets and prior experience and how were they evaluated?
In LDPs, especially rotational programs, you’re expected to enter new teams, get up to speed quickly, and solve complex problems. One key skill is the ability to collaborate successfully. Building trust, incorporating different perspectives, and leveraging your relationships and resources will likely be critical. Another skill is the ability to communicative effectively. In the Corporate Development Program (CDP) you work with stakeholders from across the business and at all levels of the organization. Strong communication skills are essential for alignment, buy-in, and relationship development. Finally, it’s important to demonstrate analytical thinking and your ability to problem-solve around complex and potentially unfamiliar issues.
I found that these skills were evaluated through a combination of behavioral and case interview questions. I experienced several different case formats, from hypotheticals and brainstorming questions to written cases.
What advice and tips can you share with those interested in MBA Development Program?
In addition to understanding the specifics of the program itself, I would recommend learning about career pathing post-program. What types of roles do LDP graduates typically end up in and how does the company view career development overall? I would also evaluate culture fit; regardless of whether you’re interested in an LDP or not, I think culture fit is an important factor in finding the right company for you. Finally, I would consider your tolerance for ambiguity and change. Within LDPs, you’re usually moving through different groups or functions and may not always have a clearly defined path forward for the problem you’re solving.
What are the major challenges or obstacles you have encountered during the program?
The biggest challenge I’ve encountered in CDP is the learning curve in each rotation. Rotating through different functions and parts of the organization has forced me to learn quickly to get up to speed in each new rotation. However, I’ve been able to take learnings from each CDP rotation into my next assignment and this has not only made it easier each time but also highlighted how much I’ve learned throughout the program.