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Observe more. Ask questions.

This past fall, I celebrated my college reunion, marking ten years since I began a sales career as a technically-minded, people-person. In that time, for me, I realized, it has always been about creating new things. My entrepreneurial attitude is central to this, whether I was conceptualizing and bringing a new international graduate experience to life or building a mobile app designed to capture and monetize local business loyalty. Yet, a key aspect to this has always been missing: risk. I have maintained a safety net. In hindsight, my decision to launch my own business two years ago was a tacit admission that I needed to embrace risk in order to define my own future, my own success, and ultimately my own impact.

Formed in 2016, InQwired LLC, is my boutique management consulting firm and creative outlet where non-profits and small businesses can turn for sales and marketing talent. The experience of starting InQwired has been eye-opening. While I continue to operate it, the biggest challenge continues to be the very definition of this business and translating the ideas and goals into a cohesive, coherent message. What is the nature of the work and how do I position myself within the market? How do I build out a team to scale operations while delivering an exceptional service? What kinds of work can I take on and which jobs are better referred to others?

Oddly enough, the things I help others accomplish are exactly the things on which I need to focus. The more I delve into owning and operating this business, the more I realize the limits of my own business literacy. This, coupled with a tremendous desire to become a sales and digital marketing authority, has led me to the conclusion that pursuing an advanced business degree is both fitting and timely. My clients and I would both benefit from the breadth and depth afforded by the comprehensive curriculum of the MBA, which will help future-proof my career and my value.

In the pursuit of building a business, I would personally benefit from both the knowledge gained (e.g. finance, organizational strategy) and bolstered (e.g. sales, operations). In part, the safety net mentioned previously had been the talent I surrounded myself with while in previous organizations. The full-time MBA will not only give me the platform to learn and demonstrate new proficiencies in business, it will allow me to contribute my perspectives and bond with a dynamic, diverse, and collaborative cohort. There is something to be said for going through a full-time cohort program, especially for an entrepreneur. The camaraderie and shared experience can be a powerful way to inspire and discover others with similar passions to drive the creation of new enterprises.

The UConn MBA experience will instill in me a renewed sense of courage — a boldness — necessary for defining and taking a business to market. The business ideas I bring can be refined through various course work and potential opportunities like CCEI. The program also provides the opportunity to find like-minded individuals and maybe future business partners.

Through CCEI and the summer intersession, I envision forming a small team and going through an accelerator-like experience to hone the right strategy and structure, produce thorough market research and financial analysis, and capture the necessary talent. As I have engaged with more prospective clients, I have discovered there is a need beyond traditional consulting services — a just-in-time expertise or agile talent, still project-based, that they can turn on and off when they need. This experience will allow me to incubate and validate those ideas, building a sound but nimble foundation.

Beyond these next two years, I plan to continue pursuing lifelong learning. While the concept has always been ingrained in me, it has only taken on real meaning in the past year, mainly that I need to take it upon myself to read more, observe more, and — this is the part I had yet to internalize — create more. As an extension of that, I want to develop myself into a thought leader and someone who can contribute to the broader body of knowledge. An aspect of this is building a personal brand and making sure I have an appropriate outlet to reflect and author my own content and to be my genuine, curious self.

Why UConn specifically? Attending a public research university in Connecticut will allow me to better understand business, yes, but also in the context of our State political and social climate. Anyone can take their career to Silicon Valley or Austin or Seattle, but perhaps a worthier endeavor is right here in our local communities. I have resided in the greater Hartford area, calling it home for over ten years now, and I think there is a real need to problem solve right in our own backyard — to distinguish Connecticut’s business environment and give people a greater reason to call this place home.