I graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering in 2005 and started working in a chemical manufacturing plant that same year. 

On my first day on the job, with limited technical competence and organizational awareness, I was assigned to supervise a team of technicians and interns. Our task was to troubleshoot the breakdown of an electric motor. This involved having to identify causes of the failure, produce remedial plans, and subsequently implement measures to fix the problem and undertake projects to prevent future failures.

While working as an engineer, I found myself fascinated by the inner workings of the company. For instance, I was curious about the management of its supply chain, the types of analyses that were conducted to develop, validate, and review business strategies, how incentives were designed to drive performance, and considerations that go into a project financing decision. Realizing my penchant for general management, I became increasingly interested in pursuing an MBA.

I was initially doubtful if I had what it takes to be an MBA student, but I applied to HBS nonetheless. In retrospect, my engineering background has, in fact, equipped me with several crucial skills that prepared me for the MBA experience:

A structured and practical approach to problem solving

The discipline I acquired to methodically think through problems has proved to be valuable. Breaking down complex problems systematically into manageable elements allows for effective solutions to be developed and prioritized.

A great attention to detail

Being meticulous with detail aids not only in attaining a better appreciation of the nuances of each situation, but also in gaining the capacity to discern the practicality and ease of implementation of potential solutions.

Technical problems in the manufacturing plant often require the combined effort of multiple disciplines and stakeholders to be resolved. My experience has taught me the ways to work and engage with all levels of the organization to address the root of problems faced and affect behavioral change to adopt novel solutions.

Most importantly, the humility to learn from others

To be effective in my role, I relied significantly on the wisdom, knowledge, and experience of others. Among others, this included technicians, peers, and suppliers. I am always amazed at how much I can learn from those I collaborate with. This outlook has served me well, not only at work or at HBS, but also in life.

That said, there are challenges that I have had to overcome. As an engineer, I have been trained to be risk-averse and to seek substantial amount of information prior to making decisions. In a business setting, however, managers are often faced with limited resources and time, and thus, dealing with ambiguity and making business decisions based on information available, even if it does not capture the whole picture, is a skill that I have had to develop.

Also, I realized that I would be slightly behind compared to my peers who come from more traditional business backgrounds in terms of having an appreciation of the fundamentals of business thinking. I found the HBX CORe program, that is delivered on the HBX online platform, to be a valuable resource for me in closing this gap.

I am grateful for the skills and experiences that I have acquired throughout my career as an engineer, and to the many people I have worked with along the way. They are the main reasons that I currently enjoy the privilege of being a student at HBS.