Meet Charlie Madison, a full-time MBA student who will be entering his second year in the fall. Learn about his arts-oriented background, his career goals and what ultimately lead him to pursue his MBA at Weatherhead.
1.) What made you want to go back and pursue your MBA?
When I made the decision to pursue a graduate degree, I didn’t intend to pursue an MBA. Until recently, my longstanding career trajectory was to run a non-profit arts organization, and after years of working in fundraising and marketing, I wanted to flesh out my business acumen through a holistic and rigorous program. While applying for a couple of notable arts-oriented MBA programs, I realized the unique perspective I could gain from learning through a predominantly for-profit lens and expanded my applications to general MBA programs.
2.) Why did you select Weatherhead for your MBA?
Admittedly, I first learned of Weatherhead upon receiving an invitation to apply for free. I also received a similar invitation from Brandeis University, my undergraduate alma mater, way back when, so I decided that Weatherhead’s invitation was a good omen. As I researched more about Weatherhead, I grew enamored with the school’s intimate cohort sizes and its pioneering of Business as an Agent of World Benefit.
3.) Are you from Cleveland? If not, what do you like about the city?
I’m not from Cleveland – I grew up in a New Jersey suburb about 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia, went to college in the Boston area, and then lived in New York City for five years. While I ultimately consider NYC my “home,” Cleveland is a great! You can get from one end of the city to the other in less than 30 minutes, and while there isn’t a bottomless abundance of activities like in New York, there is still a ton to do. I particularly love biking the Canal Trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, meeting up with my classmates at The South Side or All Saints, and going to the museums just steps away from campus around University Circle.
4.) Talk a little about your experience at Dean’s Weekend and how it ultimately helped with your decision to attend Weatherhead.
I am so lucky that Dean’s Weekend 2020 just preceded stay-at-home orders by a few weeks, as my in-person exposure to Weatherhead and Cleveland gave me the confidence that I would not only learn a great deal in the Full-Time MBA program but enjoy a life in such an unfamiliar city. A couple of experiences stand out to me. My M&A [Mergers & Acquisitions] negotiations session led by Scott Fine piqued my interest both personally and academically. The case study involved Transdigm, whose Founder and Executive Chairman, Nick Howley, is a close friend of my boss’s husband and a donor I corresponded with in my position at The Flea Theater. I was comforted by the possibility of worlds colliding, but as importantly I was quite pleased with the hands-on, experiential engagement prospective students received. My second experience that stood out was my series of interactions with my classmate and close friend, Rachel Horvath. From our courteous introduction during a group lunch at the Jolly Scholar, to our extended conversation the next evening at Casino Night, I grew to discover that I could easily make true friends at Weatherhead, and I could collaborate with an exceptional cohort of up-and-coming business professionals.
5.) What are your career goals upon graduation?
Upon graduating from Weatherhead’s MBA program, I am determined to pivot my career into Data Science & Analytics. As my cohort was warned early on, I am aware of the difficulties of pivoting both my functions and my industry. But I have always been a data enthusiast – pulling new metrics to quantify impacts for grants, volunteering to parse through the receipts from a friend group vacation – and my first year in the MBA program solidified this appreciation. While my coursework at Weatherhead is providing me a solid basis for a career in Data Science & Analytics, I have a relatively larger learning curve compared to my classmates with more quantitative and technological backgrounds (e.g. Engineering, Computer Science). I have just begun weighing my options – a second graduate degree, certificate/boot camp, development program, or directly applying for entry-level analyst positions – and have received fantastic guidance from my professors.
6.) What advice would you have for someone with a similar background as you who was considering pursuing his/her MBA at Weatherhead but is on the fence?
My advice to anyone with a similar background as me, who might be on the fence about Weatherhead, is to go for it! My career trajectory is probably one of the most unorthodox of my cohort, let alone all of Weatherhead, but I am so glad I decided to accept my offer in the Full-Time MBA program. Regardless of your career intentions, the core courses are useful in developing a comprehensive business acumen, and the small class sizes ensure that your involvement is not only strongly encouraged but genuinely valued.
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