Should You Do an MBA? Interview With A Stanford MBA Student / Successful Entrepreneur

Should you do an MBA? Is an MBA worth it or not? What's the value of an MBA? We're here to help you work it out!

Doubts are common in the MBA application process because it's such a huge investment in your future. It's hard to know the real value of an MBA. But while everyone is more than happy to give their opinion on MBAs, who should you actually listen to?

We thought it was high time that we shared some inspiring MBA stories! Daniela Bahamon is an entrepreneur who built a sustainable luxury fashion brand in Paris, and is headed to Stanford GSB in the Fall for even bigger and better things. 

Interested in more content like this? Let us know! We want this channel to be as useful as possible to anyone on their MBA application journey.

Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:

“Worst comes to worst, you're exactly in the same position that you were and best comes to best, you get into the school of your dreams. And even best of the best, you get into the school of your dreams and you decide that you're still not going because that's not the path that you wanted to go!”

If you've landed on this video, chances are you're considering pursuing an MBA. I'm Angela Guido, the founder of Career Protocol and today I'm going to help you answer that question. If you're new here, this is the Career Protocol Channel where, every Monday, we talk about business school admissions tips and on other days we talk about other cool things. Today is another day. So, we're talking about: Should you get an MBA? It's a question that people grapple with right up until the moment they hit submit. Actually, some people, like our special guest today, struggle with it even up until the moment they arrive on campus. At Career Protocol, we're all about helping our clients discover and share their inspiring stories. So we thought it was high time that we started sharing some inspiring MBA stories on our YouTube channel. Today, I'm talking to you women. Women who are already successful, already have a great life, but are asking yourself, “Is there maybe more that I want for my career?”. And if you're asking yourself that question, it's probably leading you down the road to consider an MBA. Today, I'm joined by an incredibly successful businesswoman and rising Stanford GSB student Daniela Bahamon. Let me let her introduce herself to you.

Daniela: My name is Daniela Bahamon. I’m originally from Colombia. I have been living in Paris for the past ten years and I am an entrepreneur. I launched my company five years ago because I wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine, which was to build a fashion brand. Even though I'm not a designer and I never worked in fashion, I took a leap of faith and tried and I was able to successfully build a business out of this dream that I've been working on day and night for the past four years.

Why Would A Successful Businesswoman Pursue An MBA?

“Worst comes to worst, you're exactly in the same position that you were and best comes to best, you get into the school of your dreams. And even best of the best, you get into the school of your dreams and you decide that you're still not going because that's not the path that you wanted to go!”

If you've landed on this video, chances are you're considering pursuing an MBA. I'm Angela Guido, the founder of Career Protocol and today I'm going to help you answer that question. If you're new here, this is the Career Protocol Channel where, every Monday, we talk about business school admissions tips and on other days we talk about other cool things. Today is another day. So, we're talking about: Should you get an MBA? It's a question that people grapple with right up until the moment they hit submit. Actually, some people, like our special guest today, struggle with it even up until the moment they arrive on campus. At Career Protocol, we're all about helping our clients discover and share their inspiring stories. So we thought it was high time that we started sharing some inspiring MBA stories on our YouTube channel. Today, I'm talking to you women. Women who are already successful, already have a great life, but are asking yourself, “Is there maybe more that I want for my career?”. And if you're asking yourself that question, it's probably leading you down the road to consider an MBA. Today, I'm joined by an incredibly successful businesswoman and rising Stanford GSB student Daniela Bahamon. Let me let her introduce herself to you.

Daniela: My name is Daniela Bahamon. I’m originally from Colombia. I have been living in Paris for the past ten years and I am an entrepreneur. I launched my company five years ago because I wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine, which was to build a fashion brand. Even though I'm not a designer and I never worked in fashion, I took a leap of faith and tried and I was able to successfully build a business out of this dream that I've been working on day and night for the past four years.

Why Would A Successful Businesswoman Pursue An MBA?

Angela: So you may be thinking, “Daniela, you've already achieved a dream that a lot of people have. You've built your own brand, your own business, and it's conformed exactly to your values, exactly to your esthetics. You've already achieved the end goal of what most people aspire to in their careers. What more could you possibly want? What value could an advanced degree in business possibly hold for you?”. And again, if you're like most women considering business school, that's probably one of the big questions you're asking yourself.

DB: For me, it manifested many of the things that I miss that I want. I miss being with other people. As an entrepreneur, it can be a lonely journey. I miss being inspired and challenged by different points of view. Having worked in fashion for the past four years, you sort of get just the same information all the time. I miss a different attitude, a more positive attitude. I gave myself the chance to explain to others and thus explain to myself why was it that, after successful milestones in whatever it is that you were achieving, you were still looking for something else and something crazy happens? Is that when you start trying to convince someone else? You start realizing “I better agree with what I'm saying, because if I don't, then it won't work and I won't be able to convince.”. And you start looking for these real answers within you. So for me, I realized that I wanted to have a bigger impact. That what I was able to achieve on my own, that I have a desire of transformation that is beyond the product in itself and that I have matured professionally in a way that I can see how the things that used to be very important are not my main motivators today. And if I want to seek those new ones, then that requires – for me – a whole new set of leadership skills. It means also just business confidence overall. It means being exposed to new ideas and the resources, having the opportunity to tap into resources, to test those ideas, to double check, to confront them and then to have the community that will support you into making that happen.

AG: Daniela had a lot of the same reasons that most of our clients have for wanting to pursue an MBA. They're looking for something more, and it's usually more in the realm of impact. It's wanting to be able to help more people through your career, or design more amazing products, or build bigger and more exceptional companies. It's wanting to go far in your career, into a path of leadership that might be less attainable or take a lot longer to arrive at without an MBA. If you follow Daniela's advice, if the MBA is even a possibility on your horizon, your first step is to start progressing down the path. To start considering how does it fit into your life? Which schools might you like to apply to? And then how can you begin actually constructing your career game plan and your rationale for getting an MBA in the first place? And as you go down that path, you'll start to develop clear and compelling reasons for yourself. Even if they're not exactly clear when you start the journey, as Daniela explained, once you get into conversations, it starts to become very clear to you why the MBA is, in fact, the thing that you really want. Once you've even begun down this journey, however, a lot of interesting things are going to happen. What most of our clients discover, even those who are in supportive environments surrounded by at least a couple of MBAs, what they discover is that they encounter resistance from different places in their lives. Even if your parents have always supported you in what you've done and your friends and family, believe in you, applying to business school can sometimes bring out things about you that people have assumed or that they believe are true of you, that that maybe really aren't.

DB: And quite surprisingly, I woke up one day – after the world went into shutdown due to coronavirus, but still – woke up one day and told myself “Remember that idea that you had had deep, deep in your heart, that you wanted to pursue a degree in advanced education, in business, and have that experience and meet all these people and hopefully to some degree and some extent of your capacities change the world for a bit for the better?”. And it seemed absolutely crazy. Not only for me, but for everyone around me because, well, I'm thirty-two years old. So absolutely everyone thinks that – thirty-one turning thirty-two – and everyone thinks that time already went by. And also, most people around you just are comfortable putting you in the box that they see you at that time. So I had had – before being an entrepreneur – I had had a career in multinationals. I was very happy. I worked in perfumes and cosmetics. I was developing new product launches. So my vision of myself is I have had two different lives in my life, professionally, and I can have a third and fourth and a fifth, but it's definitely hard to tell everyone. So I decided that I was going to try it out because what do you lose? And worst comes to worst you're exactly in the same position that you were, and best comes to best you get into the school of your dreams. And even best of the best, you get into the school of your dreams and you decide that you're still not going because that's not the path that you wanted to go.

AG: It's really good advice. In the end, nothing great is accomplished without the courage to dare. And for a lot of women, even initiating the MBA application process takes a ton of courage. You have to break out of preconceptions about yourself. You have to break through the ceiling that you've set for yourself. You have to really see beyond the ceiling that other people have envisioned for you as well. So, for a lot of people applying to business school and, in my experience, especially a lot of women, it feels a bit like an uphill battle every step of the way. Then there's the GMAT, there's the recommendations, the essays, the resume. It's really a lot of work, even just to submit a quality application to one school, never mind multiple schools, as if you hang around on this channel, you know, we really believe in. I could see a million things about how to keep your stamina up and about how to keep going when things are difficult, but I have a feeling that Daniela might put it a little bit better than me.

DB: While I was doing the process of application, I told myself, well, actually, even if I at the end I don't apply, because there is a nerve-wracking moment, it's a nerve-wracking process. You’re six months trying working towards one specific date in which you know that you will be getting an answer. But all of those times in between, I kept seeing what were the milestones that I could achieve of these two weeks, of this one month, of these two months of these three. And for me, it was being able to explore why it was that I have, in my heart of hearts, this inkling, like this gut feeling that that's something that I want to explore.

Dream Big, Ladies

AG: It's still true that women represent less than half of business school populations across the world. And it's not because there are fewer capable women leaders out there, or fewer women capable of doing well in the GMAT, or fewer women who really belong in the most important places where business decisions are being made. It frequently comes down to a question of courage and commitment to yourself and a willingness to take a risk. There are, of course, a lot of conflicting opinions out there about whether you need an MBA or whether you should get an MBA or whether you're better off without one. In my experience, those arguments are frequently being made along experiential lines. So, people who have MBAs say “Go for it.”, and people who don't have MBAs say “Meh, an MBA is a waste of time. You don't need one.”. In the end, you really can't listen to anyone else's opinion, even mine. I'm incredibly biased. I have an MBA and it changed my life for the better. Now I work extensively with MBAs and it's a group of people that I love to empower because they're all up to incredible things in the short and long term of their career. So suffice it to say that you don't need an MBA to be successful. You don't need an MBA to achieve your career dreams. But if you're considering an MBA, then you probably owe it to yourself, at least to try. At least to see what happens if you apply. And you can always decide not to go. But let's hear one last piece of advice from Daniela about why you really need to aim high.

DB: So I got into Stanford GSB and I am 90 percent sure that I'm going to Stanford next quarter. I never thought that Stanford would accept me, actually. I thought it was the least probable school and it ended up being the school that I had the best match with. And I feel I feel surprised and proud and flattered and scared. But I felt compelled to try it out and to dare, even though that meant many difficult conversations. In my case, it meant speaking with my company and my team and letting them know that I would probably be passing either the company or giving them my duties and maybe not coming back. It meant changing my life situation, telling my husband that we're moving, that we were moving to San Francisco with a nine hour difference. But it also meant facing many of my fears. But also, sort of facing or listening to this inner belief that you have when you're a kid, when you think like, yeah, I can jump that high or nothing bad’s going to happen. So at the end, I told myself, what's the worst that can happen? Just try.

AG: The really cool thing about being a minority wherever you go is that you always have something unique to contribute. You have a perspective, a of point of view, a creative idea, energy that is unmatched by the rest of your group, by the rest of your case team, by the rest of your cohort, by the rest of your MBA class, by the rest of your management team, by the rest of the founders team. You're going to be different wherever you go. That's something you're going to want to embrace right now and really just make peace with it, because it's not only something you can't change, it's actually the source of what you have to offer from now forward in your career as a business leader.

DB: I feel very different to many people that I have applied and many people that have gotten in, and yet the conversations that I have had with current students, alumni and the cohort that I would be joining, are all very rich and inspiring. And I can see how I would grow by just being next to them. So, if I'm going to be different to most of the people around me any day anyways, I might as well be different to everyone else in the MBA as well, but building on like the tools and the weapons that I want to tackle the next dream that I have, even if it's still a question mark.

AG: We just love our people so much at Career Protocol. It's just such a pleasure to share the stories of the people that we believe in and that we're supporting in achieving their dreams. I hope you've really enjoyed this conversation. Before we sign off, I'm going to give you the chance to get to know Daniela just a little bit better. Her business is exceptional. It's a role model to follow for anyone seeking to go into entrepreneurship in an environmentally sustainable way, that also creates a social impact. If you like this video, please, please give us a like and a comment. If this kind of content is useful, we'll do more of it but I would just love to hear from all of you what is adding the most value to your MBA journey. I'll see you next time.

DB: I'm wearing a piece that is a celebration of life. I designed this piece. It's part of our 2021 collection for the brand that I launched, which is called Maison Alma. It's the House of the Spirit. It's French and Spanish: maison / alma, Because I am Colombian and I have been living in France for the past 10 years. And I wanted to create a luxury fashion brand that would speak about the values of a continent whose perspective is often disregarded in luxury spaces around the world, which is Latin America. I grew up throughout different countries in Latin America, and I fell in love with our diverse cultures, our references, our architecture, our vision, our values. And having lived for 10 years in France, and working in the luxury industry and working with creative powerhouses, I realized that we had something very powerful to say. And I asked myself, well, who's going to tell it? Who's going to tell this story? And if I can be a spokesperson for that then I believe that I could move the needle. In French it’s called move the needle. So I decided that I was going to leave a very comfortable job on which my visa and my livelihood depended for Dior, and launch a company despite me having no experience in this, and Maison Alma was born. We believe that artisanship and Latin American design has such a powerful message for the world in terms of sustainability, in terms of respect of nature and in terms of human values of transmission.

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Angela Guido

Angela Guido

Student of Human Nature| Founder and
Chief Education Officer of Career Protocol

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