Tiffany Shaw, MBA’08
Chief Operating Officer, FORCE Communications
Kelley Biz Blog: Tell me about why you chose to get an MBA, and how did your Kelley education help you as you moved forward in your career?
Tiffany: After joining the workforce, I knew I would need an MBA (the credentials) to ever be considered for the type of role I thought I wanted (brand/product manager). I hadn’t taken the steps toward obtaining that goal because I was not in a financial position to quit working to go back to school full-time. It wasn’t until I spoke with a Kelley faculty member that I realized I could go back to school to get a highly-regarded MBA, while still working. I remember the conversation clearly… she said, “If you don’t do it now, you will find other reasons not to do it in the future.”
My Kelley education has been central to my career success. My undergraduate degree was also in business, but it wasn’t until I had practical business experience that I truly understood how business works. The technical knowledge gained through Kelley, coupled with case-based application allowed me to “practice” in the class room and apply in the real world. In two of the three companies for which I have worked, I have depended on the knowledge I gained through my Kelley MBA to navigate various business decisions. While not my favorite subject, the finance and accounting knowledge I gained while completing my MBA has been most beneficial.
Kelley Biz Blog: Why was an MBA important to you?
Tiffany: An MBA allows you to think like a business leader/owner, even before you are in the position to do so. While the core subjects are similar to those you cover at the undergrad level, how you apply those learnings through cases and projects is much different. The importance of an MBA, I believe, is different for each individual. It is very dependent on the role you are in today and the role you are seeking to achieve in the future. Based on those factors, each individual student likely takes something different away from the experience. When I was at Kelley, we were taught in a way that allowed each of us (a diverse student group) to find appropriate value in the education.
Kelley Biz Blog: Do you have a Kelley moment? (A moment that stands out in your time with the Kelley School).
Tiffany: A few moments stand out during my time at Kelley. One was when my cohort team (small group assigned by zip code to work together on all projects during “core” classes) started to work well together. We always got along really well personally, but I remember when we hit our stride and understood each other’s strengths and what we each brought to the team. By sticking with what we did well, we were extremely efficient--which was necessary at times--but when we took on roles within the team that were outside of our immediate comfort zone(s), we were able to really learn from each other and grow as individuals.
Another Kelley moment is really a compilation of moments that I would classify as non-traditional learning experiences – whether capitalizing on opportunities to network within the Indianapolis landscape or participating in GSCIE (global supply chain immersive experience) – the ability to learn outside of the traditional classroom setting and impact local businesses allowed for a heightened educational experience.
Kelley Biz Blog: What is your advice to other women aspiring to move up and succeed in the business world today?
Tiffany: Don’t wait for the right time, perfect moment or nudge from a peer or mentor to take action toward improving your career.
You are in control of your professional journey.
Make the time to invest in your future—whether through formal education or other valuable activities, such as time with mentors, networking or informational interviews.