EMBA alumnus Lee Leibowitz, WG’13, shares tips to jumpstart your career when you’re feeling stagnant in your professional life.
Listen to Lee Leibowitz on the Reunion Radio Special.

When Lee Leibowitz, WG’13, returned to campus for Reunion Weekend at Wharton to catch up with classmates from the MBA Program for Executives, he also reconnected with EMBA Career Director Dawn Graham.

He stopped by the Sirius XM studio to chat with Dr. Dawn on Career Talk, her call-in career advice show on Wharton Business Radio, Channel 111. As Director of Service Line Analytics and Strategy at Penn Medicine, Lee provides health care leadership with analytics related to finance and market development to identify opportunities for growth and to improve resource allocation and efficiency.

He enjoys mentoring current students in Wharton’s EMBA program and sharing his experience and tips for professional development.

On the show, he highlighted four recommendations that have been key to his career success:

1. Consider getting a graduate degree

“Having a graduate degree helps you get to a next level in your career,” Lee said. “Having the demonstrated capability of learning and applying your knowledge and your experience to the current problems that you’re facing is a necessity.”

He emphasized that you have to consider your career goals and the next move you want to make when you’re deciding on what sort of graduate degree is right for you. For Lee, an MBA made the most sense.

Getting an MBA was always on Lee’s radar, but he recognized he was ready when he had reached a plateau in his job in his early 30s.

“My opportunities to grow and to learn seemed to be levelling off, ” Leibowitz said. “I needed something to really get me going, jumpstart my career, get my head back in a learning mode.”

2. Go back to school when the time is right for you

For some students, the decision to go to graduate school right away or wait until later in their career can be difficult — each has its pros and cons.

“There’s never a perfect time to come back to school.” Lee said. With a young family and a full-time job, adding schoolwork to the mix wasn’t easy but it was the right choice for Lee.

“For me personally, waiting was the best decision and it made the learning more than just about the textbooks,” he said. “I came back to school with real-life questions. My cohort, my peers in the program had real-life experiences.”

Having that experience made it easier for Lee to make the connection between the knowledge he learned in the classroom and how it applied to what he was working on in the office.

3. Build and maintain networking connections

Networking is paramount because “so much of work is the interpersonal components … working together, solving problems, fixing things, and that is all interpersonal,” Lee said.

“The best way to build relationships and meet people is to put yourself out there. Whether it’s finding somebody with a common connection and having coffee or identifying a potential industry or job, meeting people is the best way to learn and for them to get to know you.”

And once you’ve built the connections, Lee said you can’t forget about maintaining them. Juggling a career, family, and school can make finding the time a challenge, but technology makes it much easier.

“The good news is we live in an age with social media,” Lee said. “LinkedIn is a great professional tool to keep connected. People love to hear from you, I love to hear from people.”

Lee feels it’s always a good time to reach out to your networks — you don’t need an agenda, just take the time to learn about people and what’s going on in their world.

“Even if you’re not actively looking to make a change in your own life, [take] snippets of information about how people are approaching their own challenges in their job and apply that to whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish.”

4. Develop a “story” for your career

“I’m a big proponent of having a story,” Lee said.

During his time at Wharton, he made a career change — going into consulting as an experienced professional but without consulting experience.

“That was a challenge, but I had a story,” Lee said. “When I met with folks through networking, career counseling, guidance or interviews, I knew how to tell the story of why I was making the decisions I was making or had made in the past.”

Don’t worry if your story is not linear. “Being nonlinear is normal. You don’t always know where you’re (going to be) in five years or 10 years or 15 years,” he said. “It’s a journey. Just about everybody has a journey with pivots and changes along the way. Just being able to verbalize and tell your story is important.”

How do you develop your story? “Practice it, get input from other people who are around you and can help you form your story because sometimes you don’t see (it yourself).”

Adapted from a podcast that originally aired on Career Talk on Wharton Business Radio, Channel 111.

Emory Saia

Posted: July 2, 2018

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