“Amrutha, can you tell us your opinion about Apple’s marketing strategy for the iPhone 11?”
Although I had a lot to say about the case reading, I quickly struggled through a response and then excused myself to the bathroom. Morning sickness had kicked in, and I still had three hours of class ahead of me.
In 2020–2021, I balanced a full time MBA and a pregnancy (not to mention a pandemic). The experience was bizarre and had its challenges, yet fulfilling at the same time. More than anything, it was a crash course in planning, prioritizing, problem solving, patience, and persistence.
In the spring of 2020, as the country and Babson College went into lockdown, my husband and I learned that we would be going into quarantine as a twosome but emerging as a family of three! I had started as a two-year, full time entrepreneurial MBA student in fall 2019, and I had nearly completed the mandatory core courses. My plan was to concentrate in marketing, and I was now gearing toward picking electives for the second year.
I leaned on the support of two experts to help me make a manageable plan: my OB/GYN and my academic coordinator.
From my OB/GYN, I learned that the first and the third trimester were likely to be more exhausting than the second. Based on this, my academic coordinator and I replanned my MBA path. While I endured nausea in private early in my pregnancy, I decided to overload with five subjects during my second trimester, and enroll in just a minimum of two subjects during my third trimester.
I decided to pre-plan as I knew this was the last time my schedule would be relatively predictable; once my baby arrived, she would dictate how I spent every minute of every hour!
The grand strategy matrix is a concept that was introduced in my Global Strategic Management class. I made one for myself to chart out and prioritize my academic and extracurricular interests, hoping to be strategic about where I spent my time and energy as my pregnancy and MBA progressed.
I was elected vice president of marketing for the Graduate Student Council for two years, and co-chaired the Graduate International Dinner. I also was elected as the communications chair for the Student Leadership Initiative Fund.
A silver lining of the pandemic was that so many events transitioned online. Each week, I’d short-list the events I wanted to attend, kept aside a large chunk of time to prep for classes, and kept working on assignment daily because I knew I could never count on being energetic if I put work off for tomorrow.
Undeniably, given that no two days are the same when you are pregnant, I had to miss out on team-based opportunities that required me to commit to long hours of meetings. One such example was letting go of an exciting design-thinking challenge with a company. Outside of schoolwork, I also had to miss out on weekly social hangouts with my friends!
My contributions to the community were recognized at graduation when I was awarded the Dean’s Leadership Award.
Once baby Ahiri was born in March 2021, I had another real-world chance to see what lessons from my MBA carried over to motherhood. There are three that stand out:
For me, pursuing an MBA while deciding to start a family was a fantastic way to upskill myself in all aspects of management. Achieving these two milestones in my life in parallel was a practical test for my endurance and grit.