Lauren Smotkin

Nationality: American
Age: 26
Last job title: strategic communications consultant in Washington DC
Previous degree: bachelor in journalism from University of Missouri

1. Why did you choose an MBA at RSM?

I wanted to make a pivot into business. Business is a good catalyst for change. Specifically for sustainability. RSM jumped out at me for its sustainability focus. I was also drawn to the international cohort. I did a semester in Belgium once, and I learned that being in a foreign place is a growth opportunity.

2. What expectations do you have studying for your MBA in a world in motion?

I come from a communications background, and now have a better understanding of what drives business decisions. I’m challenged by the course content and constantly have to readjust my viewpoints in the international business world. The core courses – traditional courses like finance, marketing and strategy– combined with sustainability have shaped how I’ll walk out into the world and influence others while we strive for positive change in the world of business.

3. How would you describe your RSM MBA experience?

In three words: challenging, eye-opening and fun. The people I’ve met are exceptional. It takes a specific personality to pick up your life, move countries, and pursue something to make yourself better. It’s a testament to the admissions office to bring these people in. Everyone has a great attitude. I benefit from this.

4. What has been the biggest adjustment for you while living in Rotterdam?

The Netherlands is amazing. But jumping back into school mode took some time. Getting back into doing readings at night, raising your hand and completing assignments in study teams… I had to get back used to it, but it was fine after two months.

5. In what way has the Personal Leadership Development programme (PLD) affected you?

It taught me to be more reflective of everything I do, both in business and personally. I believe there’s no growth without reflection. Having something like PLD built into the curriculum and woven in the entire year has been beneficial in shaping my mindset as a leader, and a growth mindset in my entire career. I’m trying to be a lifelong learner.

6. If you had to choose one Sustainable Development Goal, which one would you choose?

I think the smallest fraction of initiatives has been focused on SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals. But it’s so important. We need to create common ground among different people in a world as globalised as ours if we want to make meaningful progress and initiatives that stick.

7. Has your MBA journey changed your outlook on what your career will be like post-MBA?

Looking back at my notes from PLD earlier in the MBA, I didn’t have a good idea of what my next steps would be. I didn’t know my long-term goals. The MBA has given me focus and direction. I’m also more comfortable with taking things as they come, and feel confident that I can make decisions down the line to be the best I can be and lead teams successfully.

8. What advice could you give to people who are considering doing an MBA?

It’s all about the people, so an important part of choosing an MBA is the cohort you go through the year with. They shape your business career. So, ensure you’re among people who have similar goals with different perspectives. This comes along with an international MBA full of diversity. Be open-minded and say yes to everything. Then take it as it comes and make the most of what is given to you.