Javier Angulo, MBA’20
My first week back on campus for my second year is an exciting time: catching up with old friends and making new ones, usually accompanied by, “How was your summer?” It is amazing to hear what my classmates were up to this summer – product management at big tech companies in the West Coast, weeklong assignment in London for a consulting project, designing digital strategy for a Fortune 150 subdivision, and even a post-internship trek to Machu Picchu! As I continue to answer this question myself, one theme keeps coming up: senior leadership thought process.
During my summer internship, I had the opportunity of being part of a working group which consisted of half a dozen Executive Director Level leaders. I was not only presenting my recommendations, but also we were building the project together and I got to see how these leaders approach a complex problem, what questions they ask, and equally as important, what information they discard. While a challenging experience, it was certainly the highlight of my summer. These insights are nothing new and are topics we put in practice during the MBA Program, but seeing them put in action masterfully, was impactful. Here, I would like to share three:
- Don’t fall into the trap of details. I was a bit surprised (and sometimes frustrated) when I saw these individuals discarding some of the work I had prepared. I quickly realized, however, that when spending weeks researching and studying a problem, it is easy to fall into the trap of being swamped by the details…I did. Rather, these professionals leverage their experience to quickly pull together the most significant variables, see the big picture and deliver results.
- Anticipate questions. These leaders have been working together for some time and have built trust, an important ingredient to challenge each other to improve the product. Knowing this was also coming my way, I prepared the sessions with my immediate team by examining the work from leadership’s point of view to anticipate any potential questions, doubts, or concerns.
- Foster curiosity. There are several business tools out there to answer the “why?” question in any endeavor, sometimes this can be very mechanical. In this case, it was fun to see the natural curiosity of these leaders, really digging deep into the root of the problem and assumptions of the situation. Through their inquisitiveness, I was able to capture how invested they were in the issue at hand.
I would like to know your thoughts too! What trends or lessons have you learned from senior leaders you’ve worked with?
*Javier spent his summer at Cummins, Inc. in Columbus, Indiana as a Business Process Transformation Portfolio Management Intern. In addition to his MBA, he is also pursuing a Master of Science in Information Systems from Kelley.