A Global Perspective: An MBA@UNC Student in Hong Kong

When Lauren Abraham was offered a management position at TransPerfect Translations International, she had 48 hours to decide whether or not she would accept the offer. While she was eager to move into such a role, the job would require her to uproot her life and move to Hong Kong. Ultimately, Abraham decided that the opportunity was too valuable to pass up. Two weeks later, she was on her way to Asia.

Taking a management role in Hong Kong was certainly a beneficial move for her career, but Abraham knew she still had gaps to fill in her business acumen. Abraham graduated with a liberal arts degree and had no formal business education, but she was confident that an MBA would be the last missing piece to her professional puzzle. However, she needed a program that could seamlessly fit into her life as a full-time working mother living abroad. She also sought a reputable program based in the United States that would round out her extensive experience in the corporate world. When she found MBA@UNC, an online program delivered by one of the nation’s top-20 business schools, she knew she had found her match.

A Rigorous Education

With prestigious faculty and a curriculum based on UNC Kenan-Flagler’s highly ranked full-time, on-campus MBA program, MBA@UNC gives working professionals like Abraham the ability to earn a top-quality business education online. In fact, Abraham admits that if the program were not as flexible and convenient as it is, it would have been impossible for her to pursue an MBA degree. She can attend classes in the mornings from her home in Hong Kong, before her children wake up or she has to head to work.

Frequent travel is also an inevitable part of her life, and MBA@UNC allows her to take her schoolwork with her and attend classes from any place in the world. Not only that, the coursework has made aspects of her position with TransPerfect easier. In her current role, she manages a team of 10 professionals. Courses that focus on management skills as well as psychology and human behavior have given her new insight into effective leadership and communication strategies. “I think the classes have given me a new toolbox of skills and knowledge to help me take my team to the next level,” Abraham said. “My work experience has also helped me to be able to relate to the class discussions and provide valuable contributions. Having classes with more experienced professionals has made the class discussions much more dynamic than simply sitting in a lecture and listening to a professor.”

Bolstering Strengths and Overcoming Weaknesses

Specifically, Abraham cited a course called Leading from the Middle as being highly valuable and applicable to her work. She noted there are many challenges that come with being a remote mid-level manager, and this class helped her learn how to be more present, accessible and motivational for her associates.

Her favorite course, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Developing Economies, has spiked her interest in new areas of business opportunity she never had considered before. MBA@UNC has also helped Abraham to fine-tune skills that are crucial to her professional success—such as time management. She says she has become an expert in this respect, especially as she attempts to balance her family, her career and her education from one day to the next. Abraham also noted that all of the presentations she has made and public speaking experience she has gained in MBA@UNC have made her much more confident in these areas.

“With the nature of the online platform, you are always on display, and you are always speaking up or presenting,” she explained. “It has served as really great practice. The ability to watch recorded sessions or to watch your own recorded presentations also allows you to go back and watch how you did, which was also a great exercise and learning tool.”

Unbreakable Bonds

Abraham has been continually surprised by some of the most significant rewards that she has reaped from her MBA@UNC experience. For one, Abraham has formed lasting connections with the program’s staff members. She cited her first one-on-one career session with Shawnice Meador, MBA@UNC director of career management and leadership development, as particularly memorable. “I have never had someone read me like a book the way she did,” explained Abraham. “She has really given me so much advice that I am so grateful for. She is continually supportive and an incredible, inspirational woman, and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from her.”

Initially, she feared it would be difficult to network in an online program, but she quickly learned that the bonds she would form in the program would be like no other. Abraham stressed that students are even more inclined to make the effort to connect in an online program, because the accessibility of online classes makes student interactions so convenient. For example, she and several of her classmates set up study sessions to go over challenging material for an analytical tools class. “Not only did it help us all to really understand the course content, but it became a social time too,” Abraham said. “We really connected. I also realized what incredible and diverse people I was able to study with. We all had so many different—and impressive—backgrounds to learn from outside of the course content.”

Taking the job in Hong Kong and starting a new life there may not have been the easiest decision Abraham has ever made, but it has given her a unique opportunity to see the business world from a different angle while still pursuing her educational goals. As Abraham continues to advance professionally, the global perspective that she has gained will give her a substantial edge in the corporate realm.