Carey students participate in strenuous MBA Leadership Challenge

Utilize the skills you’re learning in the MBA program to solve a simulated real-world business problem in the MBA Leadership Challenge.

five students standing smiling for photo with Johns Hopkins banner in background

Johns Hopkins Carey Business School’s Center for Innovative Leadership offers a two-day MBA Leadership Challenge to help prepare full-time and Flexible MBA students to lead through high-pressure and fast-paced situations.

Working in small teams, Johns Hopkins MBA students are presented with a business challenge that mimics real-world organizational problems. Students work together to come up with a solution and are then evaluated by a Board of Directors based on the quality and effectiveness of how the proposed solution addresses and manages competing pressures from a variety of stakeholders.

Over the two days, students receive coaching and direct feedback from their peers and Carey coaches on both an individual and team level. Carey faculty will also present short research briefs on key teamwork and leadership concepts prior to the simulation to help students develop their plans.

We heard from current Flexible MBA student, Jose Escallon (MBA ’25) on his experience in the challenge. Escallon currently works for Lockheed Martin Space as a Radio Frequency Engineer.

Q: Why did you choose to participate in the MBA Leadership Challenge?

Escallon: The MBA Leadership Challenge was an opportunity to test the skills and knowledge I have accrued throughout my MBA classes and experiences. The challenge offered an intriguing test case that stimulated the business leader within me.

Q: What skills did you learn throughout the experience? 

Escallon: The major takeaway from my experience was to lead through a crisis. Case study circumstances put our team in a position to either divert attention or take accountability. The key to guiding my team through these difficult, unclear, and challenging circumstances lies in my value system. Clearly defined values such as integrity, honesty, and agility influence the team’s ability to unite, communicate, plan, and execute. A strong value system will guide the team and enhance team performance. An unclear value system will lead to confusion, unpredictability, and unsatisfactory results.

Q: How was the direct feedback and coaching beneficial for you individually and as a team? 

Escallon: The direct feedback was incredibly constructive and honest. The coaches created a space to openly reflect on individual and team performance. The opportunity to detect similar patterns of confusion and incoordination across individuals allowed me to realize how important interpersonal, problem-solving, decision-making, and technical skills influence a team’s direction and overall performance.

Q: What challenges did your team encounter? 

Escallon: My team consisted of incredible individuals with vastly different backgrounds, knowledge, and expertise. Each person held unique perspectives and ideas on how to confront the challenge. My team successfully researched, understood the problem, and brainstormed solutions.

However, my team struggled to create an effective strategy for the creation and execution of the final presentation. Each person was assigned a task based on their expertise, but the team struggled to compensate for the team’s weaknesses. Leveraging your strengths is intelligent but compensating for a team’s weakness is wise.

Q: How will the skills you learned prepare you to work in a fast-paced environment? 

Escallon: The interpersonal, problem-solving, and decision-making skills are quintessential for the development and growth of my engineering team at Lockheed Martin. The engineering teams are always confronted with complex technical challenges that are difficult to communicate and plan. These skills will enhance my awareness and alignment with my company, team, and personal values. I will use these values as the foundation to guide my team to effectively communicate, plan, and execute.

Q: What was your overall experience in the challenge? 

Escallon: The overall experience was outstanding. I loved the opportunity to challenge myself to think and act like an executive for a large corporation. The ability to perform and reflect on how I handled the challenge allows me to refine the small nuances that I believe will make me a great business leader of the future.

The Johns Hopkins MBA Leadership Challenge at Carey Business School’s Center for Innovative Leadership is a two-day immersive simulation for full-time MBA students to learn practical skills for responding to a crisis in an organization and hone their innovative leadership for the future. Hear faculty from Carey Business School's Center for Innovative Leadership discuss the challenge.

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