Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to have lunch with Mr. Jesse Tyson. Jesse is currently the President and CEO of the National Black MBA Association. Previously, Jesse led the Global Aviation business for ExxonMobil based in Brussels, Belgium. Jesse was in town to receive the Fisher College of Business “Pace Setter Executive Award”, which is the highest award our college could bestow on an executive.
Jesse’s story is one that is common and unique at the same time. Growing up in the segregated south, the lessons of his grandmother shaped his moral compass and drive for success. This drive took him to Lane College for a BS in economics and to Ohio State for his MBA. After Ohio State, Mr. Tyson began what would be a 35 year long career with ExxonMobil that would take him to dozens of companies and allow him to rise through the ranks.
Jesse’s career has truly been global and he encouraged students to take risks and develop international careers. This is his top suggestion for being successful in a large company. Jesse shared his thoughts on the evolution of diversity over his career and how he managed his career throughout. When asked about his 35-year career at ExxonMobil, he engaged and facilitated the group in a discussion about the positives and negatives of either staying at a company long term or short term. What was most impressive about Mr. Tyson was that he has demonstrated a career of service. He understood his obligation to Fisher and the university and he truly wants to pay his experience forward. I feel fortunate that such a strong individual is closely aligned with Fisher.
Coming into Fisher, my biggest fears were circled around being a “non-quant”. With my background in law and public policy, I had never taken an accounting or finance class and I haven’t taken a math class in almost nine years! I had nightmares about being singled out for not knowing about the intricacies of pivot tables in Excel or for forgetting how to determine whether two variables are independent of each other. What I found at Fisher was a welcoming community of students and professors from all walks of life who were more than happy to help.
The most “feared” first-year class is Data Analysis, a class that covers everything from statistical analysis, probability, regression, hypothesis testing and sophisticated excel functions. For a “non-quant”, I was sure that this class would require a significant amount of my time and energy. What I didn’t realize (besides the late nights) is that it would also be the class I would learn the most from. Every career panel and professional I have spoken to has specifically pointed out the skills that we develop in this class as an essential part of their job.
Where I have struggled, my classmates have been more than willing to help me catch up and fortunately our TA, Ryan, has gone above and beyond to help us understand the concepts. These experiences, even two weeks in, exhibit the atmosphere at Fisher. Encouragement is shared freely, ideas are accepted and risk is rewarded. These two weeks have felt more like two months, but I can already tell it will pay off immensely.