The landscape of modern business demands leaders who possess not only technical proficiency but also a deep understanding of the human element that propels industries forward. Hence, the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management is breaking the mould in an era where “big” is often equated with “better,” standing as proof of the power of personalised learning.
The school’s intentionally small class sizes foster an environment where each student is not just a face in a crowd but an individual with unique aspirations and potential. The impact of such a personalised approach can be seen in the tangible successes of Vanderbilt Business’s alumni, who are thriving everywhere — from the bustling streets of New York’s financial district to the entrepreneurial hubs of Silicon Valley.
This is precisely why Jaehwan “Jeffrey” Lee from South Korea joined its ranks. He decided to pursue the full-time Vanderbilt MBA programme, which ranks 25th in the US (Financial Times 2023). Lee has been making the most of his Vanderbilt experience by boosting his personal growth while building a strong professional network made up of like-minded students and expert faculty. “All of my professors are incredible,” he says.
“Accounting with Professor Erik Olson is great for understanding the basics of accounting. I admire his passion and teaching style. Communication class with is very helpful to me, who still has stage fright. Finance with Professor Nicolas PB Bollen taught me the basic concept of finance. I enjoyed Statistics with also — a great class for both practical and basic concepts for managerial statistics. Lastly, I love the concept of Leading Teams and Organisations class with Professor Tim Vogus.”
The relationships forged with these professors weren’t confined to the classroom. Lee recalls engaging in discussions after lectures, where insights flowed freely. This is the level of attention Vanderbilt Business believes each of its students deserves, as it lays the foundation for leaders that industries seek today — the kind who embody humility, proactivity, and a deep sense of responsibility, standing as pillars of support for their teams.
“Vanderbilt students are humble leaders, which mirrors our culture of ‘competitive but not cutthroat’,” confirms Sue Oldham, Associate Dean, MBA Operations. “Our students are incredible leaders but also leaders who are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and serve alongside their team in whatever role is needed.”
The Leadership Development Programme (LDP) plays a pivotal role in cultivating the essential competencies needed to step into such leadership roles. It is supervised by Faculty Director Professor Vogus, who is nationally renowned for his exceptional teaching skills and groundbreaking research in enhancing healthcare delivery safety and promoting neurodiversity inclusivity in workplaces.
The LDP is an immersive experience interwoven into students’ academic studies, job search, and extracurricular activities. It was designed to provide them with a process that can be tailored to their unique needs and goals — from stress management and conflict resolution to reflection and overall confidence.
“The programme has a complete staff and 42 external executive coaches who are here to help you design your personal blueprint for leadership,” explains Associate Dean Oldham. “Being able to practise your leadership skills in the classroom and as a leader in a student club is how you practically take what is learned in the classroom and apply it.”
The Career Management Centre takes practical application up a notch by ensuring each student is given the chance to network with reputable recruiters and thriving alumni in their desired fields, industries, or locations. It is also dedicated to giving them the coaching and tools required to ensure their applications result in offers. “They gave me great advice and helped me chart my long-term professional path,” says student Lee.
Indeed, the Centre excels in helping students transition seamlessly into the professional world — the proof is in the numbers. Over 500 companies have a recruiting relationship with Vanderbilt Business; 85% of Vanderbilt MBA students from the Class of 2023 reported that university resources connected them to their accepted, full-time offers; and 97% of the Class of 2022 received a job offer within three months of graduating — which explains why the Business School ranks 17th in the US and 21st globally for Career Services (Financial Times 2023).
There are plenty of support services reserved for international students here as well, such as workshops, frequent check-in activities involving staff and faculty, cultural programming and more. The school even provides guidance to those in need of securing loans and financial support beyond merit-based scholarships. A few years ago, Associate Dean Oldham teamed up with a company-sponsored student from another country to work on a funding option with the university credit union.
Despite being obligated to return to his company back home, he chose a non-traditional path, engaging in a pro-bono project with the credit union. This allowed him to research and propose an innovative funding model for future international students.
“This student was able to experience the work environment in the US, leverage his newly learned MBA skills to create a solution to a very real problem, and step outside his comfort zone by putting himself in an unfamiliar environment and new team to push his personal learning and growth,” says Associate Dean Oldham.
This story demonstrates the immense impact individuals can have when they receive the right support. Vanderbilt Business exemplifies this, offering tomorrow’s business leaders a learning environment rich in resources and mentorship. To learn more about admissions, click here.