Rising Leader Reflects on Uplifting Experiences with MLT and Georgia Tech’s Scheller B-School
By Stephanie Landaverde
Stephanie Landaverde is an MBA Prep and MBA Professional Development alum attending the Georgia Institute of Technology Scheller College of Business. She has plans to start as a Senior Consultant at Deloitte after graduating and says a strong team of MLTers and Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business helped lift her to new heights.
I clearly remember my first MLT MBA Prep seminar. John Rice, Founder and CEO of MLT, was getting us hyped for our MBA journey. To get the crowd going, he asked us a few questions:
Who wants to be the next CFO?
Many hands raised.
Who wants to be the CEO of the next tech giant?
More hands raised.
Who wants to be President of the United States?
My hand went up. I looked around. I was the only one with my hand raised this time.
John turned to me and said, “You better make sure to get to know everyone in this room so they will donate to your campaign when you are ready.” From then on, my MLT cohort called me “Madam President.” They also agreed to help me when I was ready to run for office.
I was, admittedly, a bit overwhelmed. I had never had so many people rally behind me and support me like that. For the first time in my life, I did not feel the pressure of having to prove my worthiness or go out of my way to get people to believe in me. I was 100 percent supported, motivated, and empowered. Unconditionally. I came to realize that each MLT candidate is treated this way.
I was a very confident woman before MLT. But my confidence and certainty moved to the next level with MLT. The support I received was different. My conversations with other MLTers were always about how we wanted to change the world. We were focused on the future, knowing we could do anything.
I will not be intimidated by what I don’t know; anything can be accomplished with perseverance and patience.
With this certainty, the focus became executing our vision. Or, as MLT coaches counsel, it’s about trusting the process. As we all know, every MLT Fellow receives a list of assignments meant to prepare them for the b-school application and admission process. It is a long list, and it is time-consuming. But each task is intentionally designed to get individuals closer to reaching their goals, while helping each person to better understand their unique passions and options.
I especially appreciated that there wasn’t an unrealistic expectation for everyone to be fully ready to tackle all-things-business on day one of joining MLT. We all were given time, and we were equipped with resources to grow at our own pace. My personal philosophy morphed into this statement: “I will not be intimidated by what I don’t know; anything can be accomplished with perseverance and patience.” As I thought about my future, I had no idea how to apply to or how I would afford business school. I was, however, determined to succeed. With my MLT playbook and strong leadership network, I felt unstoppable. I knew I would find the right school.
I recall doing all my research and thinking about different schools. Being a Georgia resident, I was excited to learn that Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business had an MBA program. I made this discovery during one of the MLT MBA Prep seminars. I was amazed at Scheller’s hospitality. I could easily see all the work they invested into partnering with MLT, and hosting a group of more than 250 MBA Prep Fellows. It was clear to me that Scheller was committed to MLT’s goal to increase the number of African Americans, Latinx and Native Americans in business schools, and in corporate America. That was my first sign that Scheller might be the place for me!
MLT gave me the confidence and tools to achieve anything, and Scheller gave me the perfect environment to apply all I learned. Both helped me develop into a strong leader.
Among my earliest experiences on campus, I remember walking with Katie Lloyd, Assistant Dean of MBA Programs. We talked about my motivations, dreams, and plans. Like MLT, she encouraged me to be confident and not to worry or stress about my MBA journey. That was one of the conversations that helped to seal my decision to attend Scheller. Scheller gave me that same feeling of support, community, and trust that MLT made me value. I applied, and I was accepted!
During my time at Scheller, support systems have included my peers, the MBA program office, career services, faculty and staff. This support is extremely important, particularly since we are a small program. To be successful, every club, event, and initiative needs the participation of a large percentage of our community. It is great to see the Scheller community come up with new ideas and everyone saying, “Yeah, let’s do it!”
I am now close to graduating, and I can’t help but celebrate my journey! MLT gave me the confidence and tools to achieve anything, and Scheller gave me the perfect environment to apply all I learned. Both helped me develop into a strong leader. I am exhausted, and I am proud.
As I approach graduation, I am more focused on reaching back and lifting those communities that nurtured me. It is now my duty to share my knowledge. I get to remind every MLTer that if I could do it, so can they. Each and every one of them has the talent, passion, and dedication to achieve anything they are willing to work toward. I am living proof.
In three months, I will be an official MBA. And, I will be one step closer to running for President.