Chelsea Schmidt, MBA’21, likes a challenge.
When she felt that she’d begun to plateau in her role in commercial channel marketing, she knew it was time to try something new.
“I like to bite off way more than I can chew, and I could chew what I had really well. The Kelley Evening MBA Program opened my eyes to different career paths and opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone,” said Chelsea.
A lifelong learner, Chelsea always knew she wanted to pursue an MBA, and the Kelley School of Business was on her radar. As she gained greater professional experience, she found that the Evening MBA Program fit her interests and work schedule. A friend had recently completed the part-time, top-ranked program and provided positive feedback.
Chelsea confirmed her employer’s support in pursuing her MBA and ensured her personal obligations were ready for the commitment, which she acknowledges can be a barrier for some.
“So many of us—especially women—see this challenge of earning an MBA as a big, scary, daunting task. It’s a significant commitment, but we make it much bigger in our minds than it truly is,” she said. “Once I had a friend start the program, I knew it was realistic. I adjusted my life and moved from Evansville to Indianapolis to attend the program in person. I made it happen, and I’ve experienced so many benefits personally and professionally from being here.”
Part of moving out of her comfort zone was identifying areas of business in which Chelsea didn’t feel as strong, such as the analytics and financials. When an open position in resident product management opened up at her company, Allegion, Chelsea again felt confident to take on more challenges.
“I felt the MBA would put more tools in my toolbelt, and this new role met a lot of the criteria I was looking for: greater exposure to supply chain management, sourcing and engineering, including more exposure to the analytical side of the business,” said Chelsea. “The Kelley Evening MBA widened my scope of opportunities. Before the program, I felt like marketing was my only path. The program has given me more confidence to try new things and get out of my comfort zone.”
Chelsea says the lessons learned at the Kelley School are directly applicable to her work at Allegion.
“I’m taking a global sourcing class, and I’m working with global sourcing at Allegion for the first time. There’s a lot of timely impact happening there,” she said.
While she planned to grow the areas in which she had less experience, Chelsea says the Evening MBA Program helped her zero in on her strengths and take greater advantage of them as a leader. While she becomes more proficient in business analytics and financials, she says her greatest takeaways are in interpersonal relationships and team building.
“I took a couple classes on organizational behavior, which have been the most beneficial experiences for me,” she said. “We learned how to work better with people as individuals by understanding how they prefer to work, how to play to their strengths and how to be more productive as a team. Those are things I put into place the next day at work and can already see the benefits. That’s what’s so cool about this degree — you can implement what you learn the very next day.”
Along with her skill set, Chelsea grew her network. Despite moving to Indianapolis so she could earn her MBA in person, the global pandemic forced the hybrid online and in-person Evening MBA Program to go fully online, reducing her face-to-face time with fellow students. Regardless of the distance, Chelsea says she has made several professional contacts and lifelong friends from the program.
“After working through projects and grueling weekend assignments together, you don’t see these people just for two years,” she said. “They are contacts for job opportunities down the line, and some of them truly become your friends.”
As she finishes the last year in the 24-month program (her final quarter is scheduled to include in-person classes), Chelsea says she’s evolved as a person and as a professional.
“I’m much more prepared and confident for what my future holds, as opposed to where I was two years ago. When people learn I’m earning my MBA, they always remark that it’s good to get it now, because it never gets easier to fit into your life as time goes by,” she said.
It’s not about your MBA, but your future after the MBA.”
As she prepares to graduate, Chelsea reflects upon how many women are—or aren’t—pursuing an MBA and all the career opportunities it brings with it. More women earning MBAs leads to greater representation in leadership and more professionals realizing their career potential.
“When I think about women in management—not just at my company but across Indianapolis—we won’t help feed that pipeline if we don’t have more women enrolling in MBA programs,” Chelsea said. “I encourage women to consider that earning an MBA is creating a societal shift toward more professional options in their careers. Take that step. It’s not about your MBA, but your future after the MBA.”