How an MBA is Preparing Me for Real-World Success

Building networks, skill development and solution-focused strategies

Anuja Gupta with three MBA students in a classroom
Anuja Gupta (right) and Bay Area MBA students (from left to right) Mansi Saxena, Eza Dsouza, Grace Liunita serve as student leaders in the Bay Area MBA program in San Ramon.

As a UC Davis MBA student, my journey has been much more than textbooks, lectures and assignments. It's been a transformative experience that goes far beyond the confines of the classroom.

While the academic curriculum has equipped me with a solid foundation, I gained exponential growth and development through extracurricular activities, leadership roles in clubs, engaging with guest speakers and participating in interactive forums.

Taking on Leadership Roles

One of the most rewarding aspects of my MBA journey has been taking on leadership roles within student clubs. These clubs offer a platform for students to delve deeper into their areas of interest, collaborate with peers and apply classroom concepts to real-world scenarios.

I've served as the vice president of product marketing of the Bay Area Product Management and Marketing Club, and the director of marketing and communications for Women in Leadership Bay Area (WiLBA) where I have organized networking, recruiting and speaker events.

In these leadership roles, I had the opportunity to co-host Elizabeth (Elle) Grossenbacher, product marketing lead at Cisco for a session organized by the Bay Area MBA Product Management & Marketing Club and Anchal Gupta, staff product lead at Walmart for the Women in Leadership Bay Area Manager Maker session.

The session with Grossenbacher focused on strategies for job search, interview and skill development strategies. She shared her insights including her journey of transforming to a product marketing manager from being a marketing generalist. She also shared about the significance of critical thinking during the hiring process, the influence of AI in product marketing, and concepts of go-to-marketing strategies, product positioning, and messaging. Grossenbacher also recommended resources like Sharebird and Product Marketing Alliance to kickstart the journey.

During the WiLBA Manager Maker session, Gupta shared her career path to become a seasoned technology leader. She shared invaluable insights for women aspiring to pivot into leadership roles—building relationships based on credibility and trust, continuous learning beyond conventional expectations, and fostering a solution-focused mindset to facilitate productive discussions.

Connecting as an MBA Ambassador

Another significant aspect of my MBA journey has been the privilege of serving as an MBA Student Ambassador for the Bay Area MBA program. As an ambassador, I've hosted prospective students and shared my experiences through in-person class visits and by serving as a panelist. This role has allowed me to give back to the program and has also been a source of personal growth and development, sharpening my communication and interpersonal skills.

MBA students with Alum Larry Liu in classroom
Anuja Gupta (front left) with UC Davis MBA alumnus Larry Liu, CEO of Weee! who delivered a guest lecture to Distinguished Professor Hemant Bhargava’s Tech Competition and Strategy class.

Insights from Industry Leaders

The Bay Area MBA program frequently invites industry experts, alumni and successful entrepreneurs to meet with students. Guest speakers have been crucial in bridging the gap between theory and practice. Their insights, experiences, and real-world anecdotes offer me invaluable lessons that complement academic learning.

Recently, we had the pleasure of interacting with UC Davis MBA alumnus Larry Liu, CEO of Weee!, an Asian online grocery delivery service, as part of the Tech Competition and Strategy class. During his session, Liu shared his insights into Weee!’s journey of becoming a successful venture including business strategy, product differentiation, competition and organizational structure.

Networking Nexus

Networking remains at the heart of any MBA journey, and my experience in the UC Davis Bay Area MBA program has been no exception. Throughout my two and a half years in the program, I've had numerous opportunities to connect with remarkable individuals through a variety of events organized by both student clubs and faculty.

One of my favorites is the fun-themed signature events that our student associations from the Bay Area, Sacramento and Online MBA programs organize each year.

Networking at the Graduate School of Management also involves interactive forums and panel discussions. Among the many events, one that stands out prominently is the Interactive Forum on Product Management and Marketing hosted by the Center for Analytics and Technology in Society (CATS) at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. The event featured alumni who have excelled in the field. The panel provided me with the opportunity to engage in thought-provoking discussions and also to network and cultivate meaningful connections with alumni.

My MBA journey has been more than just academics; it's been a journey of personal growth and connections. Leading clubs, chatting with guest speakers and mingling at networking events have all been pivotal. Now, as I step forward, I'm carrying more than textbooks and notes—I'm carrying stories, friendships, and lessons that will guide me through my career path.