Girl Up’s Virtual Summit Empowers Thousands of Young Leaders

Girl Up Communications & Digital Media Associate and Quantic Alum, Naomi Naik, helps girls broaden their social impact skillset, apply STEM for good, and create policy change. This leadership program, founded by the United Nations Foundation, reaches tens of thousands of girls around the world. When COVID-19 hit, she knew their mostly in-person global leadership summits would need to adapt to the “new normal.” Her team worked diligently to create a virtual platform that gained the attention of many global leaders and was viewed by thousands of attendees. Here is her story: 

When the United Nations Foundation decided to go remote in March, I knew this would be a unique time that would present professional and personal challenges that none of us had previously experienced. Shortly after the virtual workplace pivot, UNF launched the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund through a virtual press conference with Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros. This fund pools resources from companies, philanthropies, and individuals to contribute directly to WHO’s work to prevent, detect, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of the last week of July, the Fund has raised over $225 million from more than 560,000 individuals, companies, and philanthropies. Although these efforts would not have been a priority without the virus, the ability for our organization as a whole to set this up in a matter of days after closing our physical office was inspiring enough for my own team to take some notes.

I manage digital and editorial strategy at Girl Up, a leadership development movement that engages, trains, and mobilizes girls around the world to take action to achieve global gender equality. Girl Up provides leadership training and gives girls tools to become gender equality advocates and activists. Through our programs, girls broaden their social impact skillset, benefit from a platform to tell their stories, and apply STEM for social good. Our girl leaders create real policy change at local and national levels, help raise millions of dollars to support United Nations programs that reach tens of thousands of girls around the world, and build community-based movements. Girl Up was founded by the United Nations Foundation in 2010, and continues to work across a global community of partners to achieve gender equality worldwide.

Most of Girl Up’s engagement with girls around the world occurs in-person, at our global Leadership Summits, STEM bootcamps, and professional development panels. We had to adapt this component of our organization ASAP in order to keep up with the times. By the third week of March, we had lined up panels and webinars for our community to hear from girl activists, global leaders, and professionals in the fields of gender equality, mental health, STEM, storytelling, and social justice.

These panels brought in over 2,000 attendees weekly, almost surpassing the number of girls we can usually host at an in-person event by tenfold. 

However, another challenge lay ahead: How would we host our annual Girl Up Leadership Summit virtually? The “Zoom fatigue” was beginning to set in, and not in an escapable way. We brainstormed how to create an interactive experience online that could increase our reach given the Summit was usually in Washington, D.C. and capped at 450 attendees.

Our team worked diligently for weeks, in the midst of also hosting a massive graduation celebration for the Class of 2020 and re-evaluating our curriculum with the new wave of social justice accountability. We made sure all of our programming would give girls a platform to speak on the current situation around the world when it came to the intersectionality of gender equality and socioeconomic barriers, racial justice, climate change, period poverty, and so many other important topics. 

And then the speakers began to confirm:

And so many more! We never imagined that going virtual would actually allow for our organization to catch the attention of global leaders and changemakers like these. And that lack of expectations, but overflowing aspirations brought in more than 80 speakers, 40,000 global attendees and quite a few new sponsors. 

Being a Quantic MBA student during this experience made me a valuable asset to my team as well. Using my supply & operations coursework to guide how we set up “flow” within the virtual platform, using my strategy coursework to work together with sponsors to optimize our partnerships, and using my data & decisions coursework to then analyze all the data post-Summit allowed me to put my education to true use in a high-stakes setting.

My story is not unique if you examine how many organizations have been forced to innovate. However, the impact of the 2020 Girl Up Leadership Summit is already tangible as girls have started 52 Clubs last week alone, signed up for five future virtual events, and been part of 3.6 billion social media impressions for Girl Up, just this month. One day, COVID-19 will be over, but the effect will be everlasting on all of us, especially our youth. It’s imperative we use these times to not only inspire and push ourselves to create something new, but also help this generation and generations to come find their passions to turn them into action.

The Quantic community can’t wait to see what’s next for Naomi, Girl Up, and the bright futures of the countless young leaders that they will continue to inspire to help make this world a better place.

Student Spotlight: A Deeper Meaning to Architectural Design

How would you define architecture? Steve Kredell, Principal Architect at McLeod Kredell Architects, has always believed that architecture is more than a simple building to shelter and protect its inhabitants. His innovative, sustainable and clean-lined designs have won countless awards. This year, he received global recognition when MKA was selected by Architectural Record as one of the top ten worldwide Design Vanguard firms.

Kredell’s passion for architecture started at a young age. His childhood walks with his father ignited his inspiration to look at the world differently. “He used to go out of his way to take me to look at what seemed to be very ordinary things,” says Kredell. “For instance, we looked at a lot of bridges when I was a kid. Through his eyes, I realized that there’s nothing “ordinary” or mundane about any human-made intervention. Those bridges weren’t just ways to get from one side to the other. They were beautiful in their own right, but, more importantly, they also enabled us to see the river, where we were going, and where we were coming from in a different way.  I believe this is what can be wonderful about buildings. They can help us see the environment and the world in a different way.” 

Photo courtesy McLeod Kredell Architects

This passion continued to grow and Kredell began collaborating with John McLeod, in the mid-90s, after meeting in graduate architecture school at Virginia Tech. The two created McLeod Kredell Architects, which is now built around the practice, teaching and community engagement of architecture. They believe, “Architecture grows out of its particular place and time–yet at its best it also transcends those limits. In the end, architecture should be inspiring–for the client, the architect, the builder, the passerby.”

This belief especially rings true now that the majority of people are spending more time at home than ever before. “We all need to ask more from our buildings – especially given the amount of time we spend indoors by ourselves now,” says Kredell. “We need to look at how buildings can be regenerative and how they can contribute to not just serving a need to house and protect us, but as part of a global environmental solution. But, we cannot lose sight of the fact that our buildings aren’t merely machines.  As our lives become dominated by screens and images, architecture has to continue to serve as a means to be connected to the natural world.” 

Connecting to the natural world has been a big initiative for MKA. The two architects bring a team of Middlebury College students to Penobscot Bay, Maine, for a weeklong design-build class each summer that results in such useful community projects like composting stations. It also has an ongoing partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Addison County and Middlebury College, where McLeod teaches, to design and build houses in the county for those in need.

“We believe that anyone and anywhere deserves design,” says Kredell. “We believe in spreading the wealth of architecture through teaching, working with private clients, partnering with communities, and building alongside students and volunteers. Good design should be for everyone. That’s a trend that I sincerely believe has to continue.” 

It was this passion for volunteering that actually led Kredell to pursue his MBA with Quantic. “My business partner and I started a non-profit program that brought community based designs to places and projects that typically wouldn’t have access to design. This opened my eyes to help me understand that we weren’t being as creative with the “design” of this new venture because we didn’t have an understanding of the nuances of a new business. I believed that Quantic’s MBA would allow me to be more creative and, really, to have a new experience and more well-rounded world view.”

As the world continues to change, so does the future and importance of architectural design. “We need to realize that architecture at its best allows us to touch the world in so many different ways. Just like those original bridges, architecture allows us to understand our world and nature in a more meaningful way. I think that’s more important than ever.” 

The Quantic community has no doubt that McLeod Kredell Architects will continue to push architectural boundaries and their designs will continue to inspire others to look at the world in a different light.

Student Spotlight: Dr. Matt Young Helps Those Harmed by the Healthcare System

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau. 

The ethos of pursuing one’s dreams and helping others along the way has been a guiding force for MBA Student Dr. Matt Young, M.D., J.D., CMQ, Esq.

Dr. Young certainly is realizing his dreams. He has already achieved national recognition in the fields of patient safety and healthcare quality, has been named a National Quality Scholar by the American College of Medical Quality, serves as a peer reviewer for the Journal of Patient Safety, has published in multiple medical texts, and, in his spare time, is a classically trained concert pianist. 

His next adventure? He is now one of the trial lawyers at the nationally renowned law firm Ross Feller Casey LLP, where he represents patients, families, and their loved ones who have been catastrophically harmed by the healthcare system, a cause that is extremely close to his heart. 

After Dr. Young graduated from Harvard Medical School, he became the eighteenth doctor in a family of doctors spanning three generations and two continents. However, after he lost his own father to medical malpractice, Dr. Young went to Harvard Law School, where he received his JD degree, and became an attorney and patient safety advocate. During his medical and legal training, he would learn that medical errors are one of the leading causes — if not the leading cause — of death and disability in the United States. “My father died as a result of medical malpractice, which has been shown to be one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality in our country. Now, I get to fight for so many families like my own who have suffered harm at the hands of our healthcare system,” he said.

Dr. Young describes Ross Feller Casey LLP as one of the best law firms in the country when it comes to representing plaintiffs in medical malpractice actions. “Their reputation, record-setting results, integrity, and team of talented lawyers and doctors make them an incredible powerhouse for plaintiffs. I look forward to helping catastrophically injured patients hold the healthcare system accountable. Ultimately, the pen is mightier than the scalpel.”

Dr. Young believes Quantic was definitely one of the nudges he needed to pursue this next chapter. “Plaintiffs’ work is in many ways an entrepreneurial endeavor. The Quantic MBA program gave me the courage and skills to make this daunting and dramatic career transition in the middle of a global pandemic. From a curricular perspective, it has great modules on key topics like entrepreneurship, marketing, and business strategy, the sunk cost fallacy, and calculating opportunity cost, which all factored into my decision to forsake my medical career and instead take care of patients in a very different but immensely important way.”

There was also an overflowing amount of Quantic peer support from his classmates. “I posted to our class’s Slack and asked my classmates for advice, and they gave me amazing advice and support about making this career change. I was getting real life and career advice from really accomplished people from three different continents and time zones all coming from diverse industries who had made multiple career changes themselves.” 

Overall, Dr. Young has been thrilled with the energetic and entrepreneurial spirit of the Quantic experience. “I thought the most valuable education I would ever get would come from spending 11 years at Harvard and getting those three degrees from their college, med school, and law school, at the cost of being saddled with a hefty amount of student loan debt; but never did I think that one of the most invaluable and transformative experiences would come in the form of a free online MBA. Without a doubt, my Quantic MBA experience has been just as valuable as the education I received at Harvard. Studying with Quantic has been an incredibly invaluable and rewarding experience and has helped me formulate a new vision for myself on how best to leverage my medical and legal training to help others.”

We are so excited to see how Dr. Young’s next chapter unfolds as he brings his powerful personal narrative and unparalleled professional training into the courtroom to fight for families harmed by the healthcare system. We are sure that as he goes confidently in the direction of his dreams, he will help countless patients and families find justice and peace.

Student Review: Top 5 Reasons to Love Quantic

A guest post written by MBA Student, Ong Shen Kwang:

On November 20 2019, I woke up to an email from Quantic School of Business and Technology: “Congratulations! I’m so pleased to notify you of your acceptance into the Quantic MBA – January 2020 class!”

I was overwhelmed with joy. Prior to the application outcome, I had heard about the school’s highly selective acceptance criteria and its average acceptance rate of only 7% per batch. Hence, I had never imagined myself embarking on this MBA journey. It came as a huge pleasant surprise.

My wonderful experience has passed by quickly. Since enrollment, I have now been on this MBA journey for close to half a year. I am so thankful to have been given this opportunity to be part of the Quantic community that I wanted to share my top five reasons for why I love this modern MBA so much. 

Reason #1: Learn From Anywhere

First, it provides a state-of-the-art digital platform for students to learn on the go. With a fully online platform, learners like myself are digitally enabled to access the portal anywhere, through our mobile devices. This is particularly advantageous for me as I spend about two hours commuting to and from work. Being able to learn on the move allows me to put my idle time into meaningful use. Also, with all learning materials being digital, I do not have to fret over carrying heavy books or having stacks of lecture notes with me. More importantly, this is a great commitment towards environmental sustainability.

Reason #2: Flexible Schedule

Second, I am able to learn at my own comfortable pace. As working professionals, managing our work and life commitment can prove to be challenging. Hence, having the autonomy to manage our own schedules is pivotal. Sometimes, if I knew that I would get busier over the following weeks, I would attempt to complete a few more lessons ahead of the recommended schedule. This allows me to keep up with the curriculum and stay on track. During the course of learning, we are also required to undertake several assignments and major examinations. The good thing is: these assessments are appropriately paced, and we are given a generous time frame to complete each of them. This is a huge relief for most of us, because then we need not fluster over meeting tight deadlines that could potentially compromise our quality of deliverables.

Reason #3: Interactive Learning

Third, the interactive learning and quality content help to reinforce our knowledge. In every lesson, we learn and apply new concepts through a case study that is built on an interesting and creative storyline. There will never be a time that you will feel disengaged in the learning – in fact, you will realise that you will keep wanting more!

After every major topic learned, there will be “Smart Cases” – a graded component of the MBA course – to test our knowledge. I particularly like this segment because it allows us to reinforce our learning by putting our fresh knowledge to test. There is also no limit on the number of attempts; so, we could keep challenging ourselves until we fully internalise what we have learned. In addition, summary notes, supplementary resources and exercises are readily available for us to download for reference. Essentially, it is a wealth of knowledge!

Reason # 4: Passionate Team 

Fourth, I love how the Quantic team is so passionate. Even though I live in Singapore, there was never a day I felt like a stranger to the Quantic team in the United States. Whenever I needed clarification – even before I got accepted in the MBA programme – the team was always there to promptly assist, guide, and patiently lead the way. As a Quantic MBA student, I am overwhelmingly grateful for the team. Their genuineness and passion to help the student community is the reason why I am so motivated to put in my best in this MBA journey – they are just like my family, and I feel like I could always have their back.

Reason #5: Dynamic and Engaged Community

Fifth, being part of the Quantic community is like living in a world without strangers.

On the first day of orientation on Slack, I got to know many of my cohort classmates that live across the globe. That gave me the networking opportunity to know them better at both the professional and personal level. We also frequently engage with each other on this platform, where we contribute new ideas, exchange our thoughts and share newsworthy articles to help one another to grow. It feels like there is an invisible psychological safety net for everyone to feel comfortable speaking up.

At this point of writing, it dawned on me that half a year from now, I will be graduating with a Quantic MBA and I look forward to that day. But I know that the completion of my MBA is not the end of my journey with the school. In fact, it will mark the beginning of a new exciting phase with the Quantic community, where I will continue to render support and contribute as an alum.

The Quantic Student Experience

Wondering what it’s like to be a Quantic student? To start, Quantic’s award-winning active-learning platform is much more than an app. As a student, you’ll engage with a global network of highly driven professionals who are leaders in their respective fields. You’ll have opportunities to discuss coursework and case studies and share perspectives with classmates virtually and in person at meetups and Executive MBA conferences held around the world. 

In addition to collaborating with classmates, Quantic students can take advantage of a variety of resources to help further their learning and prepare them with the skills needed to excel in today’s business world. The library includes membership to paid databases and you’ll have lifelong access to all courses — including those that have yet to be added to the curriculum so you’ll always be equipped with the latest in-demand skill sets. 

Quantic is committed to helping students reach their goals post graduation, too. To support you, Quantic has an in-house research advisor who can help guide your studies and make sure you’re getting the most out of your experience. And our resume and cover letter consultations ensure you’re putting your best foot forward with future career moves. Also, you’ll have access to exciting job opportunities through our built-in career network, Smartly Talent

Interested in the #ModernMBA? See what the Quantic experience is all about.

Blankets: Not Just for Snuggling

When we think of blankets, we often think of cozy nights and hot chocolate. But what if they had the power to change the course of healthcare technology, especially during the coronavirus pandemic? Executive MBA student, Olivia Lin, had this exact same thought. She wanted to combine her strong tech background and desire to create textiles with a purpose. Olivia and fellow EMBA student, Edward Shim, soon launched their start-up, Studio 1 Labs, specializing in cutting-edge textile technology. 

Their first product? A “smart” bed sheet that can be used in hospitals to monitor patients’ vitals. This has been crucial during the COVID-19 crisis because it continuously monitors for respiratory distress. The bed sheet detects respiratory patterns and transmits the data to a computer terminal for healthcare workers. With advanced data accuracy and analytics, this technology can also predict the onset of health decline and emergencies like apnea, heart attack and stroke.

Olivia is originally from Taipei, Taiwan and grew up in Canada. She studied psychology at the University of Toronto, and earned a Master’s and later a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of Waterloo. While studying psychology, Olivia was drawn to subject matter known as Human Factors, a field focused on the application of psychology in society.

When asked how and why she made the transition from psychology to starting a textile tech company, Olivia laughed — the transition even surprised her. She had a friend who worked in textile technology and saw how she combined fabric, art, and modern technology to create clothing with a purpose. This sparked Olivia’s interest and curiosity and she asked for her friend’s help in learning how to sew fabrics infused with tech. 

While completing her Ph.D., Olivia met Edward, and her hobby soon turned into a business idea as the two began researching the commercialization of fabric sensor technology. They had identified a growing trend in healthcare of using everyday objects as tools for monitoring vitals and felt that textiles might just be the perfect canvas for such a device. This kind of application had particular relevance to Edward, who, when serving in the military, sustained an injury which left him experiencing respiratory issues. He was well aware of the processes in place for patients to have their breathing monitored and knew there had to be a better way. Both he and Olivia saw a need for improvement in this space and after enlisting the help of a few more colleagues, Studio 1 Labs was born.

“There was a lot of exploration and experimentation and finally we found an application that really works,” said Olivia.

Studio 1 Labs’ fabric sensor bed sheets are a glimpse at the future of health technology. These sensors monitor a patient’s respiration pattern, location, movement, and prolonged pressure. The patient does little more than lie in bed and his or her vitals are measured and reported. This is especially important for elderly patients, who are less able to adjust their lives for doctors to gather the data they need to make an informed diagnosis and treatment plan.

Beyond product development, Olivia had also recognized the need to increase her knowledge of business and strategy. This is when she decided to pursue an Executive MBA. With Studio 1 Labs having locations in both Canada and Taiwan, Olivia was constantly traveling and Quantic’s mobile-first design enabled her to learn no matter where she was. 

“Being an entrepreneur, I felt like I had gaps in my knowledge and I couldn’t keep pace in conversations with executives and potential partners to the degree I needed to. I wanted more of the knowledge that would enable me to carry on and lead these conversations.” said Olivia.

Olivia’s impressive efforts in creating this business have not gone unrecognized. She was featured by Girls in Tech Taiwan 40 Under 40 and Studio 1 Labs won the Markham Board of Trade Aspire Startup Award in 2018. Outside of being the Executive Director of Studio 1 Labs, Olivia was a mentor for the City of Waterloo’s initiative, Girls in STEAM, a program that promoted tech and other STEAM careers to local girls to spark their interest at a young age. Olivia now lives in Taiwan, as she continues her rewarding (and challenging) entrepreneurial journey and helps to continue to #ChangeTheCourse of healthcare technology. 

Miya Miya: Helping #ChangeTheCourse for Future Leaders

We are constantly amazed by the innovative spirit of our Quantic students and alumni who are pioneering solutions for today’s complex challenges. It’s this same spirit that drives us to push the boundaries of online education — to make it higher quality, more accessible, and more effective. You may be familiar with how we’ve innovated in graduate school education with Quantic, but did you know that Pedago (the company behind Quantic) is launching another school? We are thrilled to announce that we will soon be launching Miya Miya, a platform enabling mobile education to #ChangeTheCourse for young students in need.

Miya Miya is a free, online, mobile-first school empowering disadvantaged Jordanian youth and Syrian refugees to obtain a high school STEM education and skills that are vital to their future career prospects.

This program aims to supplement classroom teaching for children and young adults who have been unable to access a traditional education due to hardship beyond their control. Like Quantic’s platform, the app-based curriculum uses active learning, in which students are prompted every eight seconds to engage. Because it is mobile-first, students can learn wherever and whenever they’re able to. 

The concept of Miya Miya was conceived as a digital curriculum delivery solution that caters to refugee children and youth, but will eventually be made available to all learners with content that is adapted to the national curriculum of host countries.

The program will run for a period of three years, and is in line with the Jordanian Government’s priority to tackle the low passing rate of ‘Tawjihi,’ the General Secondary Education Certificate Examination. According to a UNHCR report, only around 20% of secondary-school-aged Syrian children are enrolled in formal education, while the rest mostly work to support their families. Not attending secondary education prevents students from passing the final exam and receiving the necessary school certification to gain access to the job market, or study further. 

“We are delighted to collaborate with Dubai Cares, Questscope and the Queen Rania Foundation to make our breakthrough technology available to Jordan’s most vulnerable students” said Tom Adams, Pedago and Quantic Co-Founder and CEO. “Miya Miya is designed to be the premier solution for delivering Tawjihi-based instruction, and it works on smartphones.”

While Miya Miya will initially launch in Jordan, Pedago’s mission is to bring this affordable, accessible, and impactful education to all children around the globe. Through this school and other programs, we hope to continue to #ChangeTheCourse of traditional learning and help tomorrow’s leaders achieve their educational and career goals. 

Quantic Student Spotlight: Ian Saville

From art teacher to Facebook partner, Ian stresses the importance of finding your “common thread”

Something that most (if not all) Quantic students have in common is the desire to learn. Students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, with interests and expertise in everything from biotechnology, investment banking, and engineering, to start-ups, non-profits, and more. Some of these students, often with an insatiable sense of curiosity, wish to earn a degree in business so that they can transition into a new field. Moving from one industry to another can be difficult, but it goes smoother with the right mindset and guidance. This is the lesson that Quantic Executive MBA student Ian Saville learned and mastered.

Ian has changed career courses multiple times. In high school, he wanted to become a priest, but was also interested in math and physics. So upon entering his freshman year in college, he was set to double major in physics and religion at The University of the South. But, ever in search of a challenge, Ian opted for a major that pushed him out of his comfort zone: art. He realized that math and physics had answers that were too defined. He was drawn to art because there aren’t right or wrong answers, and that openness left room for him to problem solve and figure things out on his own. Upon this realization, he switched majors and completed his B.A. in studio art, and then earned his M.A. in Art Education from Columbia University.

“I think a lot of art making is about problem solving, coming up with unique expressions and novel ideas to address issues,” said Ian. “It’s challenging, and I like challenges.”

Problem solving is a big deal for Ian. It is something that has guided his career, influencing the various jobs he’s pursued. After college, Ian became a middle school art teacher in New York City because he felt it would help promote kids’ ability to problem solve and think critically. While he was passionate about educating kids, he realized that being a teacher wasn’t his true calling.

Ian then went on to become a career coach. He said that he wanted to help people reach that moment where they realize their potential and what they really want to be doing. He believes that if you can think about the underlying concept of why you are passionate about something, then you can find clarity in what you want to do. While he preached this concept to others, Ian realized that he needed to do this himself.

Ian needed to make a change — a big one. The thought of moving into a new industry can be an anxiety-inducing endeavor; there’s always the risk that what you think you want to do, won’t actually pan out in reality. It’s cause for some serious self-discovery and Ian heeded the call. He decided to meet with a mentor of his to find clarity. 

Ian’s mentor helped him recognize that there was one thing connecting all his jobs and interests — a desire to help people grow. Ian originally wanted to be a priest to help people, he became an art teacher to help kids, and he was a career coach to help people improve their lives. This commonality was the beacon Ian needed to figure out his next step.

“I think there’s something about career transitions and pivots where it feels really daunting, but once you understand what that common thread of your work is, it actually makes it a lot easier,” said Ian. “But you really have to do the work and reflect on it to get there.”

This realization may sound simple, but it is not easy to come to. It takes a great deal of patience and focus to truly take an objective look at yourself and figure out your strengths, weaknesses, and passions. Ian did not simply snap his fingers and figure it out.

“It took a lot of screwups,” said Ian. “I had a lot of really bad interviews in that process. It’s not like an overnight ‘aha.’”

Even though Ian had figured out what he wanted to do, he struggled to convey his industry-hopping in a way that was attractive to employers. Ian realized that he had been going about it all wrong, and that he was trying to hide and downplay his teaching experience instead of using it as a strength. He figured out that the main idea of teaching is “taking abstract concepts and turning them concrete.” By reframing his experience in this light, he discovered that his work had quite a few parallels to the tech industry.

It was in this reframing that Ian was able to land a job at Facebook, where he started as a Knowledge Manager before his current position as a Learning and Development Partner. Even at Facebook, Ian continues this idea of improving the way people figure out what’s important, out of an abundance of unnecessary junk, and builds knowledge pipelines to streamline the essential information.

“When we think about learning and development, there’s the need for learning and there’s the solution,” said Ian. “If we could reduce the amount of time between the need and the solution, then we are doing the right work.”

If you’ve been following this blog, you might sense a theme in the people we’ve profiled for Student Spotlights — they are all natural leaders. Ian is no different. In his career advising, he worked with executive-level clientele and learned a great deal about leadership. He believes that the key to being a good leader is consistency; consistent in how they delegate, ask questions, and create inclusive environments where everyone’s voice can be heard. Ian says that leaders need to think about the people they are leading and put themselves in their shoes.

“Be really empathetic to the people you are trying to empower or influence,” said Ian. “What do they want? What’s in it for them? Why should they care about your perspective?” 

Ian also believes that good leaders need to be conscious of what they do and don’t know. It is important to reflect on themselves and think about where they have weaknesses and who under them has strengths in those areas.

“Great leaders have the awareness of knowing what they don’t know and can bring in others quickly to fill the gaps,” said Ian. “A bad leader is someone who holds all of the pieces to themselves and feel as though they need to be in control all of the time.”

Outside of advising others and his work at Facebook, Ian stays occupied by looking for other problems that need solving — in one instance, finding a better way for kids to learn Chinese. So, he and his wife created a children’s music book that teaches Chinese. The idea for the book came from Ian’s wife, Peipei, who was born in Shanghai. She wanted their son to learn the language but they soon realized that it was difficult to find books that teach young children Chinese. Peipei and Ian accepted the challenge and recently published the book, Bao Bao Learns Chinese.

During this process, Ian’s knack (or perhaps, penchant) for problem solving came into play when he and his wife had to figure out a business plan, despite neither of them running a business before. While Peipei was the one who actually created the book, Ian supported her with the business aspects. Even though Ian was a novice in this arena, the business parts of launching this venture went smoothly, thanks to the knowledge he gained in Quantic’s Executive MBA program. Ian said that Quantic helped with the awareness of business principles and decision making needed for the success of the book. Ian and Peipei, who works at Facebook as well, also used their combined knowledge of digital marketing to help launch the book.

Ian leveraging what he learned in Quantic to publish a book is something that reflects Quantic students as a whole — they are driven, self-motivated people who aren’t afraid to tackle new challenges. These students actively seek new opportunities, such as continued learning and switching industries, in their quest to reach their true potential. While transitioning to a new industry may seem scary and difficult, Ian’s talent for navigating complexities and the discovery of his “common thread” allowed him to find his dream job. It’s a story we can all learn from and ask ourselves as we broach any major career change — what’s my common thread?

Ian with his son, Miles

Quantic Student Spotlight: Amy Dalton

Quantic students are often initially attracted to the program for its flexibility and affordability, but there’s something deeper at play that draws people in — particularly those of a certain mindset. To truly be successful in the program one must be highly self-motivated, disciplined, and passionate about learning new skills. Amy Dalton, a Quantic Executive MBA student and Senior UX Designer at GE Aviation, has these traits in spades. Like many Quantic students and alumni, Amy’s resume credentials are impressive, yet they don’t convey the full scope of the accomplishments she’s had outside of her “standard” job description.

As a UX designer, Dalton has built her career in a male-dominated field and has placed an emphasis on attracting and empowering other women and girls to enter this line of work. Though she’s been met with obstacles in her own career, she has never stopped advocating for herself and others. From public speaking engagements, mentorship, charity work, and founding an award-winning program for GE Women, Dalton’s drive to improve her career prospects and those of others is something worth acknowledging. 

Dalton is from Toledo, Ohio and studied journalism at Ohio University. However, she was more interested in graphic design and after graduating, decided to pursue user experience (UX), eventually leading to her current position with GE. While her inevitable trajectory doesn’t directly apply to the degree she earned, Dalton said that her background in journalism has been incredibly valuable in her career because “communication and the ability to write well is such an important part of any job you have,” and it allows you to come up with ideas and communicate them clearly and succinctly.

This knack for communication is evident in her multiple public speaking engagements. Dalton was a guest speaker at the 2019 GE Women In Science & Engineering Symposium, the keynote speaker at Early Career Women Collective’s Co-Create Live 2019, and a guest speaker at New Orleans’ FrontEndParty. These experiences not only reaffirm Dalton’s ability to command the attention of a room, they are a testament to the value that her words and actions bring to others. In short — her words of wisdom are in high demand. 

Further proving her leadership abilities, Dalton was the recipient of the 2018 GE Women’s Network Empower and Inspire Award, which recognizes women across the 280,000 person company for outstanding work and engagement that supports the Women’s Network (WN). As a Co-Lead for the WN, Dalton is committed to supporting women in STEM fields. 

“I have a passion for bringing more women and girls into technology because it’s always been a struggle to achieve gender parity in the field,” said Dalton. “I’ve been in it my entire career and there are relatively few women in the field — and for those who are in it, there are a unique set of challenges we face everyday.”

Dalton said that getting more women into STEM fields starts early, “it’s about exposure at a young age to spark their interest in it.” This is why she helped start GE Girls Camp, a week-long free STEM camp for 12-14 year-old girls. During the camp, girls learn to code, are introduced to robotics, and can even learn about cybersecurity and other in-demand sectors of the industry. The importance of early involvement serves as a pathway for young women to envision a career that they may not have otherwise pursued. 

Dalton isn’t just working on opening doors for young minds, she also started a program aimed at empowering women in the GE Women’s Network called Bragging Rights. Dalton initially had the idea to start the program after meeting a few of the GE interns. Even though they were just out of high school, they had accomplished amazing things and few people in the company knew much about them. This experience mirrored another observation Dalton had had — too few women spoke up about their accomplishments in the workplace. This had implications for career progression too, as she learned that women are often less likely to seek acknowledgement for their work than men. In fact, men are four times more likely to ask for a raise than women. Bragging Rights became a forum to enable and encourage women to openly and proudly share their accomplishments and challenges in life and in their career. These stories have become powerful sources of validation for those sharing them and inspiration for others involved in the program. Bragging Rights, which started at Dalton’s hub in New Orleans, took off and is now available at nine locations and still expanding. Dalton describes the program as “inexpensive but so effective” in its ability to provide women with the opportunity to grow their confidence and learn about each other.

“I think a lot of times women feel isolated and don’t have the natural tendency to put themselves out there as much,” said Dalton. “If we as women band together and understand each other’s skill sets, then we can help each other get promoted and put each other out there. We’re more likely to give kudos and talk about the person sitting next to us, than talk about ourselves. We’re more likely to lift that person up than lift ourselves up.”

Dalton is a natural leader. Prior to working at GE, she spent six years working at Ochsner Health System, where she held a management position for three years. While in this role, Dalton received the highest “employee engagement” score, a figure determined by how her direct reports rated her as a manager. Dalton received a score 20 points higher than the next highest score.

The key to Dalton’s successful management style? A more personal approach. She wanted to learn about the people she managed as much as possible, identifying their strengths and weaknesses. “If you spend enough time getting to know people and listening, really listening, you’re going to understand them enough to guide them,” said Dalton. “I focus so much attention on helping them be better at their jobs.”

This ability to listen, empathize, and understand others is perhaps one reason why Dalton is such a talented UX designer.  “When you understand things from the user perspective and you put importance on that, that’s when your product is going to be successful,” said Dalton. “When I’ve had an awesome product owner, it’s because they put the person first and understood the value of UX.”

In her senior leadership role, Dalton emphasized the need for executives to have, at a minimum, a basic understanding of UX and design. In our digitally-driven world, having the ability to view and build online experiences from the perspective of the customer is essential. Being well-versed across disciplines is one reason Dalton decided to pursue an Executive MBA with Quantic School of Business and Technology. By adding business acumen to her technical expertise, Dalton is positioning herself to take on bigger roles and broaden her invaluable influence on her organization — and if past experiences are any indication, she’s more than ready to take on whatever is next.

A flexible course schedule is something that initially attracted Dalton to Quantic as it allows her to spend more time with her two children.

Quantic MBA Student James Lu Morrissey on Higher Education and Making Forbes 30 Under 30 List

We sat down with 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient–and Quantic School of Business and Technology MBA student–James Lu Morrissey to discuss co-founding Mentor Collective, learning with Quantic, and disrupting the world of higher education.

Quantic learners tend to reflect the platform itself: innovative, disruptive, and equipped with a global scope. Those are just a few of the qualities that have led to three Quantic learners being named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 lists in the past two years.

James Lu Morrissey (MBA – August 2018) is a perfect example of this. Lu Morrissey’s personal experiences with international education inspired him to found his company Mentor Collective, an international online mentoring community. Lu Morrissey was born in the United States, but he attended elementary school for a couple years in Taiwan. Moving to a new school can be difficult for any child; moving to a new school in a new country is even more challenging.

Adjusting in school was made easier, however, by joining the school’s sports teams. There, he was mentored by his older teammates, who eased his transition and helped him find his place. At a young age, he began to understand that mentorship was critical to adjusting to and excelling in a new environment.

He also recognized the need for peer mentorship as an undergraduate student at Carleton College. He had several friends from international and diverse backgrounds, and he noticed that many of them had difficulty adjusting to college. There wasn’t always a clear structure like a track team with teammates that could mentor them.

“When adjusting to college, all students are a stranger in a strange land,” Lu Morrissey reflected. “You might be coming from Minnesota to go to NYU. That’s a very foreign experience.”

A lack of personalized support for college students is one of the factors contributing to a college completion crisis, particularly at public universities. According to Forbes, less than 60 percent of students graduate from public institutions in six years or less. Rising tuition and student loan debt coupled with the increasing necessity of a college degree for career advancement, often puts students who do not graduate at a serious disadvantage.

To solve this problem, Lu Morrissey and colleague Jackson Boyer co-founded Mentor Collective. Mentor Collective uses scaleable and transformative mentoring, through a format supported by technology and designed for large-scale application. Mentor Collective achieves this by matching students to mentors who have a similar background.

To that end, Mentor Collective has developed partnerships with more than 50 universities, including Penn State, Johns Hopkins, and Washington University in St. Louis. Through these partnerships, they’ve mentored over 35,000 students, resulting in an up to 9% increase in retention rates and 5x decreased likelihood of academic probation.

Working towards these results has certainly kept Lu Morrissey busy, but he has still found time to pursue a Quantic MBA. While residential MBA programs have a high opportunity cost, Quantic made it possible for Lu Morrissey to “continue running my company day-to-day, while having a flexible option to learn at my own pace.”

Furthermore, Lu Morrissey has found Quantic’s courses are directly applicable to running Mentor Collective. “I can complete a lesson, take what I’ve learned, and use it the very next day at Mentor Collective.”

Lu Morrissey also appreciates the flexibility and global perspective that Quantic offers. He tries to work overseas for two to three weeks every winter, and, with Quantic’s online platform, he doesn’t have to disrupt his learning schedule to travel. “I can do Quantic while traveling in Shanghai and not have any problems with time differences.”

Lu Morrissey also sees both Quantic and Mentor Collective as helping students receive the full value of higher education. Universities, with “massive endowments and very strong brands,” may not feel the urgency or need to innovate “in the same way as many other industries,” Lu Morrissey noted. “And that can come at a big cost to students. If a school is not making an impact on students’ lives, then it’s not fulfilling its promise.”

Like Quantic, Mentor Collective’s team is passionate about the students they reach. Lu Morrissey attributes Mentor Collective’s success rates in large part to his 24 Boston-based employees. Noting that his team is interested in social impact, he emphasized that “something unique happens when you collect a lot of very mission-driven, hungry learners and put them all in the same room.”