Lessons in Leadership: Reflections on Management Practice II and the BC MBA Experience
By Bill Duffey, MBA '14
I recently had dinner with two friends from high school who are also pursuing graduate degrees. With one in law school and the other in medical school, I couldn’t help but compare their career pursuits to my own. For a moment I found myself envious of the clean lines and benchmarks associated with their respective career tracks. There is no test at the end of an MBA program that indicates you are ready to manage or lead. You do not take a bar exam or boards, and are neither sworn in, nor handed a white lab coat upon finishing the program. So what happens during our two years in the halls of Fulton that prepares us to tackle new careers or qualify for senior management positions?
Beyond the cases and classes, frameworks and faculty-insight, I would offer it is being thrown in the proverbial deep-end during experiences like Management Practice II that prepares us for life beyond the heights.
The Management Practice II Experience
MPII or the BC MBA Consulting Project, consists of working to solve “real world” business challenges for “real life” clients. Consulting Project clients include start-ups and major multinational corporations, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Beyond managing relationships with team members, clients, and our “2nd Year Consultants,” for many, the work entails navigating new industries and functions. For students pursuing an MBA at Boston College, MP2 is the first time sitting second chair in the court room or assisting in the operating room. The difference here is you are actually sitting first chair and the nurse just handed you a scalpel. While perhaps exaggerated for impact, the analogy is valid in terms of the growth afforded by an applied learning experience such as this one.
Applied Learning: The BC Way
While the use of both theoretical and practical learning experiences is not unique to Boston College, I would offer that what separates this program apart is the school’s network and relationships. Throughout my time as an MBA student at Boston College, I have been consistently amazed by the level of access and exposure we are given in the program to CEOs and heads of industry. MP2 project sponsors are typically C-Suite executives and their commitment to the program is evidenced by their willingness to devote time and resources to make the experience rewarding for BC students. It is important to note, however, that the positive impact is not limited to the students. The performance of Boston College Consulting Project teams is highly regarded, and numerous client companies return year after year.
The 2nd Year Consultant (2YC) Program & Masters in Business Series
After completing the program in the second semester, students have the opportunity to continue involvement in the MP2 program by applying to be a 2nd year consultant. In addition to scouting and developing client projects, 2YCs serve in an advisory capacity to student teams. This applied learning opportunity, now as mentor and manager, is yet another differentiating facet of this capstone program. In an effort to add additional impact and value for all program participants, this year we are pleased to announce the launch of the “Masters in Business” series.
Throughout the year the 2YCs will be meeting with Presidents and CEOs from industries ranging from financial services and banking to dental insurance and baking. We have challenged each of these “masters in business” to distill their decades of experience into five key lessons learned along the way and we look forward to sharing these with you here.
That envy I spoke of following dinner with my friends was fleeting. In fact, I concluded it is precisely the ambiguity, complexity, and ultimately, the opportunity inherent to business that attracts me to it. While I may not be able to tell you exactly what I will be doing in 6 months or 6 years, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Regardless of my role or function going forward, experiences like MP2 have provided a confidence and set of skills forged by experience, which can be applied universally wherever I land. Henry Mintzberg once offered that, "Management is, above all, a practice where art, science, and craft meet." I’ll remember this next time I have dinner with my lawyer and doctor friends…
Bill Duffey is specializing in Business Analytics and currently serves as Director of the Graduate Student Association. Prior to Boston College, Bill managed eProcurement and Implementation for a Boston-based brand management firm. This summer he interned with TopSource in Quincy, MA as an analyst for their business development team. Bill is currently seeking a post-MBA position in strategy, business development, or general management.
Read the second article in this series, Masters in Business series featuring Richard Holbrook.