Dietitian uses Kelley Evening MBA to pursue marketing leadership

Some alumni of the Kelley Evening MBA Program use the degree to achieve a promotion with in their field, while others use it to springboard into a new one. Chrissy Arsenault, MBA’19, used it for both.

Twice.

When she first decided to pursue an MBA, Chrissy had been working as a registered dietitian for several years and felt she’d exhausted her career options. While impacting patients’ lives as a healthcare provider was rewarding, she lacked opportunity for skill development or advancing her career path.

“My managers were having discussions that, frankly, I did not understand,” she said. “With my science degree, I didn’t bring any business skills to the table. I felt clueless when they were discussing things like forecasts, operations, clinic utilization rates and client satisfaction measures.

“I thought earning an MBA would help me gain the business acumen to understand these tools and propel me into the kind of leadership role that would challenge me.”

“Not having a business background motivates you even more to earn your MBA. It gives you the technical skills to be good at your job, but also the business acumen and cross-functional leadership you need to be successful in the workplace.”

Chrissy chose the Kelley School of Business Evening MBA Program for its name recognition and strong alumni network. The latter would prove to be instrumental in identifying the career path she would eventually choose. Chrissy worked full-time and attended class in the evening and online. It was a lot to juggle, but she found motivation in the classroom.

“I chose the Kelley Evening MBA over a fully online program because it offers engagement with my classmates and professors, who provide real-life examples through guest speakers and case studies,” she said. “Working alongside very intelligent, competent professionals as my peers energized me to keep going. I learned something new from them every day.”

The most striking Kelley moment for Chrissy happened during the Seminar in Management Issues course, which is a weekend management simulation to help students refine their executive skills. Over the two-and-a-half-day learning module, Evening MBA students select leadership roles for a live case analysis of a business challenge. Working with a career coach, they lay the groundwork for developing their career management plans. Because she wanted to pursue senior management, Chrissy’s career coach suggested she select a senior vice president role or higher in the simulation. She chose president and CEO.

“I discovered the most important takeaway that weekend wasn’t the results of the case study; it was the feedback session,” she said. “I learned which leadership traits I should be mindful of and which strengths to capitalize on. Shortly after the simulation, I received three job offers for marketing-specific roles. I attribute those offers to having interviewed with a greater self-awareness that I gained from the simulation.”

Chrissy decided that a marketing role would best complement her dual interests in science and communication. Her work in dietetics could be repetitious, while marketing offers her creativity and diverse experiences.

“There are two sides to me: one who loves advertising, messaging, PR and consumer behavior and  the data nerd side of me who loves the numbers of forecasting, data analysis and evaluating market share,” she said. “The creative part was always missing in my work as a registered dietitian, and marketing really blends and marries those two.”

During her MBA, Chrissy accepted a role as an associate brand manager for SPLENDA at Heartland Food Products Group, a job that suited her strengths, experience and interests. Taking the advice of her Kelley career coach, she transitioned into a marketing role within a similar industry, rather than change her role and industry all at once. Still, it was an adjustment taking leadership in a new business.

Earning an MBA helps you understand the big picture. I’d never seen an income statement before I enrolled in the Evening MBA Program, and now, I’m exposed to that kind of information every day.

Chrissy Arsenault, MBA'19