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Sarah Phillips

Leadership Catalyst and the Wisconsin MBA

by Sarah Phillips Tuesday, April 14, 2015

When you think about what it takes to be successful in business a few abilities come to mind. Usually strong communication skills and  calculated risk taking come to mind. Sometimes organization and negotiation skills fall into the category. However, the ability to lead is the hardest thing to master and most sought after skill that encompasses everything listed above and more.  

The Wisconsin School of Business recognizes this need and provides outlets for MBA students to practice and hone this skill. Recently my classmates and I attended a Leadership Catalyst session on Leading without Direct Authority by Dr. Mary Triana. This was a base course in how to provide and maintain motivation for employees/colleagues as well as how to address problems within groups; even when you may not have the direct authority over the team. Coming from the military and transitioning into civilian life I can attest to how important this skill is. Leadership was something I was taught from day one when I started college. The chain of command became something so easy to follow and always respected. If a colonel talked to you, you automatically stood up and gave them every ounce of your attention. To break this code of respect wasn’t even an option. So when I started my first civilian job without that cloak of authority which was my rank, the true test of leadership started. Right away I was assigned to lead teams with people that were way higher up on the pay scale as well as people who reported to me but had much more job knowledge than I. In order to be successful, every MBA graduate must learn how to lead and manage these types of teams. 

Having a great idea and assembling a team to bring that concept to life may be the first step in creating a successful business venture. But when money is tight, stress levels are high and the vision of instant success isn’t happening like you thought, it’s easy for emotions to get to you and your team. Leading your team through tough times is what makes success happen. By teaching its students how to work successfully in these situations, the Wisconsin School of Business really sets their MBA’s up for success. 

Sarah Phillips comes to the A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research after spending five years in the United States Air Force serving as a Nuclear Combat Commander in the 341st Missile Wing. She later went to work for Nestle Waters North America as a production line owner. There she primarily led improvements processes using live stream data that she analyzed from the machines. Sarah grew up in Chicago and attended Purdue University to receive her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Russian Language. She is looking forward to expanding her knowledge of consumer insights. In her free time she loves exploring the different places her career has taken her.