April 3, 2013

The Real Value of a Business Degree

Post by:
Kristen Cuneo
MBA 2014 

My name is Kristen Cuneo and I’m a first-year MBA student at Boston University’s School of Management. My background is in nonprofit management. For five years after college, I taught self-defense and conflict resolution to girls and managed leadership development programs for teen and college mentors. I knew that the empowerment and transformation of girls I taught came in large part from the strong mentoring relationships my staff and I formed with program participants. As I looked to broaden my perspective of the world by going to business school, I wanted a school that placed a premium on strong, healthy relationships.

When you choose a business school, you invest in the value of all the past, present and future individuals of that institution – from students to faculty and administrators. When your personal and professional development is based heavily on what others bring to your experience, maximizing the value of this investment is critical.

At BU, mentoring is a pervasive and foundational element of the school’s culture. Professors, administrators, and peers are willing to listen, learn and teach. When Ken Freeman, former CEO of Quest Diagnostics, was named the Dean of BU’s School of Management, he stated, “What thrills me more than perhaps anything else about having the opportunity to be the dean of [the BU school of management], is the opportunity to help shape minds that will impact the future of the world.”  Dean Freeman is a remarkable teacher and leader, and he exemplifies how to build strong, healthy relationships and learning communities.

Dean Freeman chats with students in his office
Dean Freeman mentors every chance he gets. He makes himself incredibly accessible to the entire student body. Here are just a few examples:
  •  When he first arrived at BU, he moved his office from a spanning, magnificent office suite on the 5th floor to a modest, glass-walled office on the 2nd floor, just next to classrooms filled with students.
  • In the fall, I wanted to discuss some of my student development ideas and their alignment with the vision of the school. So, I simply scheduled coffee with him!
  • Earlier this semester, despite being halfway across the world, Dean Freeman video-conferenced into a student event to speak with audience members and invite questions.
  • At LinkDay, a one-day volunteer consulting event that connects BU MBAs with nonprofits in the Boston area to address a specific business problem, Dean Freeman was chatting with and thanking participants for their volunteerism – at 8am on a Saturday morning!
Dean Freeman interviews New York Times Senior Editor Adam Bryant at the BU School of Management during a recent installment of the Dean's Speaker Series

This fall, Adam Bryant of the New York Times’ “Corner Office” came to speak as a part of BU’s Dean’s Speaker Series – an initiative started by none other than Dean Freeman. The NYT Corner Office is a weekly column dedicated to sharing leadership lessons and insights from top industry CEOs. One major theme was the value of authentic relationships and being able to understand the true value you can get from a relationship. In a recent Corner Office column he interviews Ilene Gordon, CEO of Ingredion. Gordon states, “I’m not just hiring the person sitting there; I’m hiring the four people who mentored him. I don’t think there’s anybody who’s successful in their role today who hasn’t been mentored by somebody.” Gordon contends that you are the product of the people who mentored you; the people who you surround yourself with, from whom you learn.

At Boston University, you’ll find mentoring in every corner and level of this institution. I know an excellent value when I see one – I’m glad I invested!

Kristen Cuneo is a first-year MBA concentrating in Leadership & Organizational Transformation.  Professionally, she is interested in corporate responsibility and leadership development and training.  In her free time, she serves on the Board of Directors for Girls’ LEAP, cycles and practices yoga.
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