Navigating the higher echelons of the business world isn’t easy. Three Maryland Smith alumni stopped by Van Munching Hall on Monday to share what they’ve learned along their professional journey.
Speaking with Dean Prabhudev Konana of the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business during the latest Smith Executive Speakers Series event, Qualcomm’s Akash Palkhiwala, MBA ’99, Sasmit Dwivedi, MBA ’99, and Nate Tibbits, MBA ’01, spoke about what it takes to succeed in the business world and what students should know before they enter the workforce.
All three said their experience in Maryland Smith’s Full-Time MBA program helped prepared them to face uncertainty and tackle important issues in the field. Palkhiwala, Qualcomm’s chief financial officer, said the business industry has changed dramatically from when he graduated from the Smith School, but that his educational background remains relevant in his day-to-day duties.
“It’s the intangibles and soft skills that you are equipped with during school that can be applied to any situation,” said Palkhiwala. “When you become a CFO, you’re never truly ready to deal with it or know how you’ll react to certain situations. Those are things that you have to learn through experiences.”
Tibbits, senior vice president, global government affairs, public affairs and corporate responsibility, reflected on attributes that he believes companies should be looking for in prospective employees and why they’re important to organizational success.
“Companies should be looking for the following three things: Humility because no one is as smart as they think they are, and empathy because it’s hard to understand what people are going through at any given moment,” said Tibbits. “The third attribute is intellectual curiosity because I want people who are going to help me grow as a leader and make me want to continue learning.”
Dwivedi, senior director of investor relations, encouraged students to leverage their college experience by recognizing the potential they have to take more risks and learn from mistakes before entering the workforce.
College, he said, is the moment to discover answers to some of life’s biggest questions like, “What do you want your day to look like, where do you want to live and who do you want to be surrounded by?”
Asking questions, he said, is an incredibly important skill to develop because it serves as a point of distinction among employees. Those who dare to ask more questions in the workplace are the ones who leave a lasting impression.
“The value you bring to the table depends on the questions you’re willing to ask,” said Dwivedi. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions – the worst someone could ever do is make assumptions.”
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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.