A Conversation with Northwestern MSC Alumnus Brandon Oelling

Brandon is the founder and CEO of Woobot.io. He previously spent 6 years at Appirio.com in the sales and technology industry where he played a pivotal role in helping customers adopt and implement cloud technologies like Salesforce.com and G Suite by Google Cloud. Brandon is currently on the Northwestern MSC alumni executive board and assists with event communications.

At what point in your career did you enter the MSC program?

I had been out of school for about 16 years, but I was surprisingly excited about a graduate degree. I had never thought about a master’s program, but I was working with a previous graduate of the Northwestern MSC program from the early ‘90s, who suggested the program to me and thought I’d be a good fit.

Before I entered the program, I was a consultant, and while I was very interested in the role communications played in my current position, I wanted more. I’ve always been in the technology and product space, but I was feeling stuck, and I wanted to move from an individual contributor focused role to a leadership focused one.

Why was Northwestern MSC the right program for you?

Since I was working in a global organization and leading people over large distances, there was a lot of content in the MSC program that was relevant to me. The coursework is very applied and timely, which I like. Also, I came to the program to fill in a gap of skills I didn’t have – having found that soft skills are just as important now as the standard technical ones.

What is something you’ve learned that has made an impact on your professional and/or personal life?

I’ve learned that supervision, management, and leadership go hand in hand, and I am now able to better delegate and collaborate with a team that spans the globe. The Northwestern MSC has a unique academic and applied curriculum that really helped me target and improve myself and my relationships with others in a way that has influenced both my personal and professional life.

It all comes down to the way we communicate with others professionally and in our personal relationships that sets the table for how we view and navigate the world.

How have you grown from the program?

I came out of the MSC program with what was a renewed sense of empathy for others. In a leadership heavy role, you have to build trust with the people you work with. It’s easy to want to take over and fall back on the skills and habits you have, but a good leader works to make sure that people are supported and have the resources they need to succeed. I also see this in other MSC alumni that I talk to. We’re convinced that the reason the Northwestern MSC is so successful is how it’s delivered. Empathy is a skill that is difficult to foster, and this is a program that helps you identify and grow it.

What helped foster this empathy?

The content and the quality of the lecturers, case studies, and assigned readings was a phenomenal start. We were also asked to interact with our cohort to work through this content to examine and understand the myriad examples of leadership styles and apply it to our own work. It was a great way to see what the theory says and how that actually translated within our various workplaces, which is unique to the Northwestern MSC program.

What was your favorite aspect of MSC at Northwestern?

The way the program is set up brings each cohort together in various settings – especially outside the classroom. Being together every Saturday is especially helpful, but everyone also stays in touch during the week as well, so we could always pick right back up where we left off. We all leaned on each other and in turn created some great memories and relationships that will last a lifetime.

What advice would you have for anyone considering the MSC program?

Ask a lot of questions and make sure you seek out a conversation or two with an alumnus. Our alumni network continues to grow, and we always have opportunities for prospective students to engage with and get the support they need while they make such an important decision to further their careers and their lives.

2 Comments:

Posted by Penelope Johnson on

Great article from Brandon Oelling. I am always impressed when I interact with Brandon. He is super smart but also funny and generous with his time! Great job, Matt Peyton, on the interview!

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