The MBA Hub
Portland State MBA alumna, Yulia V. Smirnova, believes that regardless of where you get your MBA, the true value lies in what you make of the program. And maximizing her MBA experience here at PSU was definitely the focus for this 2007 graduate and e-commerce expert.
Now based in San Francisco, Yulia is currently the Site Experience Manager for Walmart.com US, collaborating with teams across the organization to enhance the online customer experience. She describes the ubiquitous group projects during the MBA program as a "grooming experience" for business, allowing students to apply their leadership skills and build consensus to accomplish a goal.
"The MBA was much different than my Bachelor's because it gave me the confidence that I can do anything," she says. "It also reduced the years it would have taken me to get to a certain level. I had access to jobs faster that it takes people years to get with only work experience or Bachelor’s.”
She notes that the MBA changed her life in another significant way: increased salary. After finishing her MBA, her salary doubled in a three-year period, due in part to applying the skills she honed in the Negotiations class and doing due diligence in competitive intelligence and market research.
While leadership development and course work played into her success, interacting with the local business community, professors and mentors proved to be invaluable.
"You have access to so many great resources as a student — CEO's and VP's, professors that came from the industry (Robert Harmon, Tim Clark, Melissa Appleyard) and people that you normally wouldn't interact with," says Yulia. "Plus, when looking for mentorship, internship or job opportunities while being a student, people don't see you as a threat yet so they really want to help you and provide access to projects, people, advice."
The conferences Yulia attended as a student, as well as events organized by the School of Business, introduced her to many people that she otherwise wouldn’t have been able to meet.
Five years after graduation, Yulia still strives to advance her skills through internal company leadership courses and boot camps, groups and networking. She is an active member of LEB Toastmaster’s Club at Stanford University and is a Certified Product Manager and Product Marketing Manager. She continues to attend conferences and events but now she attends as a speaker. So far this year, she has been a featured speaker at two industry conferences, most recently at an e-commerce summit in Brazil.
It's hard to believe that at one point Yulia wasn't even interested in pursuing an MBA, which she now describes the experience as “transformational.” Thanks to the support from friends and family, she made the decision to go back to school. Her advice for prospective students: just do it.
“Even if it looks scary, you can do it all. You juggle your priorities and become very good at time management, identifying opportunities for your future yourself and make the most of the program. If you do have a chance to get your MBA, just go through the program now because the opportunity might go away.”
By Mallory Miller: Mallory enjoys both the creative and analytical elements of marketing. Her primary experience is in digital and social media marketing. She will graduate from the Portland State full time MBA program in June 2013. You can connect with Mallory on LinkedIn.