In five short years, Tiffany Munsell, JD, MBA’19, has moved from commercial manager at Rolls Royce to chief of staff to the CEO of Rolls-Royce North America and President of Defense in Reston, Virginia. She says she is a different leader than she was prior to earning her degree from the Evening MBA Program at the Kelley School of Business.
“I spent a lot of time developing my leadership skills at Kelley; finding where my gaps were, figuring out how I could grow.This included a 360 evaluation with my team to really challenge myself to be a better, more influential leader,” she says. “This has paid off insurmountably. It’s how I made a quick bump in five years to chief of staff. Without question, my commitment and the Evening MBA Program paid off to help me to be a well-respected and well-rounded leader.”
Tiffany began the Evening MBA as an attorney seeking greater business acumen. Her goal for earning the degree was to gain both the skills and credentials to grow into other areas of business beyond general counsel. “I hope this program provides me an opportunity to go from being a middle manager to being an executive,” she said back in 2018. As she assumed her new role, the groundwork she’d built in leadership continued to pay off.
“At Kelley, I took all the assessments about my personality and leadership style, and I can tell you from start to finish I have actual, raw data points to mark my progression. Even more than that, I’m more confident in my leadership abilities after the MBA,” Tiffany says. “I challenge myself and others to work on themselves as leaders. I find that teams actually seek out opportunities to work for me now because of how much I invest into trying to be the best leader I can be.”
From start to finish I have actual, raw data points to mark my progression. Even more than that, I’m more confident in my leadership abilities after the MBA.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe, it impacted many industries—particularly aerospace—and forced leaders like Tiffany to reconsider how they motivate their teams. Shortly after she joined the organization, Tiffany was leading the crisis management team—managing the flow of information and communication among local and global sites and company leadership.
“My legal background helped me understand risk management, and my experience in supply chain helped me understand operations. My unique background lent me to be a good fit and understand how the puzzle pieces fit together,” says Tiffany. “The biggest tools I used from Kelley at this time were leadership skills—being able to rise to the occasion, work with cross-functional teams, multiple backgrounds and disciplines while presenting well on behalf of the entire team.”
While some employees continued working on the factory floor, others were sent home indefinitely. There were many different demands and perspectives to consider. Tiffany’s organization had to find their place in the new normal.
“Part of what I have to do as a leader is to remain motivated and positive in the face of uncertainty, which is certainly challenging when you don’t know what lies ahead,” she says. “At the same time, I encourage my colleagues and superiors to remember that the old way of doing things is over – we must be agile and flexible with our workforce about working from home, returning to the office and addressing social unrest. Kelley has helped me find my voice and feel comfortable speaking out in all those scenarios.”
Regardless of the uncertainty in the job market now or in the future, Tiffany says a Kelley MBA is a credential that will always be useful, both during the coursework and after the program is complete.
“It’s valuable to have work experience going into the program and to continue working while you earn an MBA,” she says. “I liked the Kelley Evening MBA Program because it was critical to be able to apply in real time those practical lessons that I gained in class.”
Tiffany’s current role is largely leadership and project management, but during her studies, she led a procurement team in which she used every aspect of her degree.
“I used nearly everything Kelley taught me: marketing, understanding market dynamics, understanding my customer and the supply chain, on-time delivery and how that impacts pricing, the negotiations with my suppliers or financial aspects,” she says. “I managed a thin budget, and it was critical to understand the five-year implications of the bu
dget for the total buildup of our engine and rollout of financial performance.”
As Tiffany continues to engage wider teams at Rolls Royce, she appreciates the ability to learn from a diverse group ofcolleagues. In the Evening MBA Program, students work collaboratively with classmates in their cohort, creating interaction among professionals who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to work together. Tiffany is an advocate for adding a new lens to her perspective as a leader, whenever possible.
“One thing I liked about the Kelley Evening MBA Program is the integration of teams in every way possible. I believe working together in diverse groups adds a new, important dynamic and a depth to that kind of team engagement,” she says. “You want an MBA to be reflective of an experience you can take back to your workplace, and you can’t do that if it’s a homogeneous group. Kelley gives you diverse discussions and interactions you can apply in real-life settings.”