Making an impact in global retail with an executive MBA
By Lesley Vincent, Executive MBA Metro NY ’19
I remember arriving on Cornell University’s campus for my first executive MBA residential session in July. For a moment, the vivid memories of the incredibly improbable journey I took to get to Cornell flowed through my mind. I could see myself as a 13-year-old transformed from my mother’s child to her caretaker overnight; and as a 16-year-old having my last conversation with her and promising that I will carry on and seek the best education that the world has to offer.
Even though my mother only had up to a middle school education, she had faith in the ability of education above all else, to lift up even the lowest among us if we had the will to persevere. And that’s what I did. I persevered against seemingly insurmountable odds; from a small island in the Caribbean to this present moment standing in front of one of the most prestigious business schools in the world: Johnson at Cornell University.
The best mix of coursework and classmates
Over the years, I conducted a considerable amount of research on the top executive MBA programs. I knew that I wanted to attend a top program, but I was not sure which one. After attending the Cornell Executive MBA Metro NY open house in Palisades, New York, I had no question that this program was the right one for me. I chose the Metro NY program because it focuses on general management and offers relevant courses on business strategy and innovation. These are must-haves for anyone that aspires to not only lead, but also create new business models and rethink the old ones in the modern economy. I felt that this degree would be a great compliment to my technical background and I am already reaping the benefits. I am four months into the program, and I have already noticed an improvement in the way I solve department problems and identify new business opportunities.
One aspect that I like about the program is its bi-weekly classes on Saturdays and Sundays in beautiful Palisades. My classmates are from various professional backgrounds, so I have the opportunity to learn about other industries and new approaches to operating a range of organizations. This professionally diverse cohort and alumni network presents new opportunities and opens new doors that I never knew existed.
Applying knowledge to the real world
It’s not an easy task to choose just one favorite class in the Metro NY program, but I really enjoyed Professor Michelle Duguid’s Managing and Leading in Organizations (MLO) course. In MLO, we had extensive discussions about the management and leadership of modern global organizations that span multiple regions and cultures. Michelle did an excellent job selecting business cases that led to lively discussions around leadership, organizational design, diversity, culture, and strategy.
One of the most useful tools that I obtained from MLO was the Congruence Model. This user-friendly framework could be used to improve collaboration and performance of organizations and teams. This is an important skill for business leaders. As a global director, I interact with colleagues across various regions and cultures around the world and the Congruence Model is an invaluable asset to have in my toolbox.
Looking into the future
I have a strong background in technology and recently transitioned to a consumer-facing business role as the director of Global Retail Operating Solutions at The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC). At ELC, I am focused on growing and enhancing the global retail business using inventive new processes and digital technologies to merge the in-store and online channels into a seamless consumer experience. I have also invested time into understanding our consumers, brand identities, and the relationship between various business functions and how they could be strategically leveraged to create a long-term competitive advantage for ELC.
My career goal is to become a leader in global retail business operations, strategy, and innovation. In order to grow as a business leader in the retail industry, an MBA from a world-renowned university like Cornell is of paramount importance. This will allow me to understand and react to the changing paradigms in the global business landscape and thus help The Estée Lauder Companies maintain its leadership in the prestige beauty space.
I think that capabilities such as social commerce, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and omnichannel will play a huge role in the future operations of retail companies. The next generation of executives will need the right tools to bring all of these capabilities together to create exciting new ways to serve an increasingly more mobile, socially connected, and sophisticated consumer base.
My advice for any prospective executive MBA student is that this program is not a sprint—it is a marathon. If you endure over a period of 22 months, you will emerge a well-rounded business leader. Enjoy the journey, form lifelong friendships, and start implementing your new learnings gained from MBA classes from day one within your organization.
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- Making an impact in global retail with an executive MBA - November 17, 2017