Kenny Nicholas, MBA’19
When I started contemplating the idea of returning to school for an MBA and began to investigate different programs, I imagined how my life might look for those intense 22 months. As a father with three small kids I debated how my family and I would make it through the business school experience. After getting everyone on board with the idea of living the student lifestyle, we eventually found our way to Kelley. While this MBA journey has been a roller coaster ride, it has also been full of lessons in time management, teamwork, and communication. I have found there are three keys to successfully navigate the business school road with a family.
Set Priorities and Find the Perfect Balance I learned from experience in my career that if you don’t stand up for your priorities no one else will. I entered school determined to find the perfect balance and give priority to what mattered most at the moment. It was the same routine every time a new class started, being assigned to a group and synchronizing schedules to find a time when we could get together. In those meetings, I shared that I wanted to work around being home for dinner and my kids’ bedtime and that I leave one day a week for family time. Everyone respected these priorities, and I learned that one day to catch up and bond with my family made those long weeks a little shorter and kept me motivated to get through them.
Help your Family and Classmates Get to Know Each Other During Core, I spent more time with the four other members of my core team than I did with my wife and kids. When I introduced my team to my family it made all the difference. My family better understood our goals as we moved through projects. The friendship that came from these interactions made both sides more understanding when extra time was required for an emergency at home or for late nights at school. Inviting my family to be engaged in what I was doing in school helped them to feel included in the business school experience.
Your Successes and Failures are Their Successes and Failures Every member of my family is invested in my success as it will influence their future. Whether it has been a great test score or an invitation to a job interview, each time I tell my family it gets a little sweeter. The screams of joy and high fives of little hands are all the motivation I need to keep working hard to be the best dad and businessman I can be. On the other hand, when a presentation does not go well, or other plans go awry, motivation to get back on track comes from the hugs, kisses and “I love you Daddy” whispers. I have also found that my spouse is a source of sincere feedback – she knows me at my best and worst and is honest and thoughtful about how I can improve.
Kelley has made this an amazing MBA journey because it is the perfect place for a family. The Kelley Partners Club and Kelley Kids Club have been an excellent support network for my family as we invest in my career. Throughout the school year, especially during midterms, finals, and travels, these two clubs host events that give partners and kids a chance to share experiences and bond. While traveling in China for GLOBASE it was great to know that my family had friends in Bloomington to support them in my absence. Kelley also has a family atmosphere across the school. Among the students, there is not a sense of competition but a desire to help one another. There truly is a network of faculty, staff, students, and alumni that are willing to help you in any way they can.
Business school with three little kids and a newborn presents a unique adventure and we are loving it! As you learn to set priorities and find a balance, get your family and classmates to interact, and share your successes and failures with your family, you will have a much richer MBA experience and you will develop personal and professional skills that you’ll take with you into the next phase of your life post-MBA.