Katelind Hays

Class of 2020

Hometown: Chesapeake, VA
Undergraduate University: University of Virginia
Class Year: 2010
Major/Minor: Sociology; American Government and Politics
Employer: The Josh Bersin Company
Position: Director of Marketing

What prompted you to return to school and earn an MBA?

I reached a point in my career in 2016 where I had quickly accelerated to a senior role supporting business executives. I was making recommendations to entrepreneurs about marketing strategies, budgeting, etc., that were rooted in my instinct rather than in an academic foundation. An MBA is a global credential. It's something that travels with you and is easily recognizable as foundational to the business acumen piece. I thought it was time to put some legitimacy behind my recommendations to my executives through an academic background, and an MBA made the most sense.

Why did you choose the William & Mary PTMBA program?

I'm a military spouse, and we were living in Norfolk, Virginia, at the time. The most important thing for me was that if I was going to invest my time and resources into a program, I had to make sure there was a tangible return on investment. I wanted the program to be highly rated, and it had to be accredited. As a military spouse, we are never in one place for very long, so it also had to have a reputation that went beyond regional geography. I grew up in Virginia and knew William & Mary as an institution that is well-loved throughout the state, but it's also recognizable outside of those state borders.

What were some highlights for you during the PTMBA experience?

From the application process on, William & Mary was a warm, collaborative, welcoming community that was invested in my success. I made what I consider lifelong friends in the program, and I think that was such a unique component of the PTMBA experience. We all pushed each other to work really hard, but it was in the spirit of collaboration and collective achievement, as opposed to competition. The professors really respected our opinions and our time, and they had a pulse on what was happening in the real world of business. They were able to translate their academic specialty into applicable lessons for us to then take and use on the job. It was a magical combination of a solid network, extraordinary faculty, and academic insights that changed everything for my career. The network, especially, has become one of the most valuable resources that I've taken away from the program, and I know my career would be drastically different without the people I met at William & Mary.

How have you applied what you learned in the program to your work?

The thing that the MBA gave me that I didn't have before was a level of inherent credibility. It taught me that everything in a business is symbiotic, and it increased my awareness around how the work we produce as individual contributors or departments fits into the overall success and future successes of a business. There is not a day that goes by that I do not use a nugget of wisdom, a tidbit of information, or a theoretical piece of business that I learned at William & Mary. Everything has come with a sense of clarity, and I feel like a more well-rounded, holistic business person because of the lessons I learned while I was in the PTMBA program.

What value has the MBA degree had on your professional growth?

I found that having the MBA was the gateway into many more conversations than I would have had during previous transitional periods. I think it's an immediate differentiator that organizations and recruiters associate with people who work hard, have a fundamental background in business, and embody the key attributes a company needs to remain competitive. In addition to all of the practical experience I had, it was just one more thing that provided a competitive edge. Moving into a new space, the MBA really lent me that legitimacy to then be in the rooms with the smartest people, to be able to track their conversations and understand the strategies behind what these business owners are looking to accomplish while remaining future-focused.



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