There’s a little known secret about a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) degree: it’s not only for people in traditional business roles or undergraduate students from the business school. Just ask David Weinstein, MBA ‘20; after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts, David started his career in real estate as a mortgage broker. He then moved to a commercial lending company where he quickly climbed the ranks and eventually became CEO. After about two years of running the company, David joined Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business MBA program in 2019 and graduated this past year.
Now, David is a Senior Loan Officer and freelance financial coach with his own business. Below, David shares his perspective on employing soft skills in any area of business, learning from a diverse cohort, and using his Yeshiva Sy Syms online MBA experience to put his needs first.
Gaining Soft Skills with Real Results
When David became the CEO of the lending company where he had worked for a few years, he found that although he had been in the business for a while, he was in a little bit over his head.
“I felt that my career had moved ahead of my knowledge and my education. I was dealing with issues that I wasn't fully confident in, and I was forced to make decisions about things that I didn't really understand,” he says. “That’s what propelled me to look for a more business/finance-focused degree.”
He chose the Sy Syms School of Business because of its flexible hours, prime New York connections, and comprehensive curriculum. Though he gained a lot of technical skills from the program (specifically in marketing, social media, and finance), David says some of his most useful takeaways were the soft skills that developed along the way.
“The ability to communicate, the ability to break apart a business or an idea and say ‘Okay, let's look at margins, let's look at cost savings, let's break this down into its real components and discuss things openly and maturely,’ I think that's going to give us a lot of advantages in the real world. Honestly, I think that's more important than the technical skills,” David says.
David goes on to list a few of the other soft skills he gained throughout the program: a deeper understanding of how business relationships work, recognizing the effect that companies have on their employees, knowing how to hire effectively, and identifying opportunities for growth and improvement. All of this, in addition to the technical knowledge and vocabulary he mastered, has given David the confidence to present more frequently (on which he has already received positive feedback), collaborate with different departments, and be more open when he might not understand something.
“It gave me the courage to be able to grow,” he says. “I also feel like I’m a better decision maker not just when it comes to finance decisions, not just CFO decisions, but also human resource decisions, culture decisions, things like that. I think I'm definitely more knowledgeable and more aware of the impacts that all of our actions have.”
A Close Cohort With Diverse Backgrounds
With David’s background in real estate and finance, his approach to the MBA program was unique. But David wasn’t the only one whose experience strayed outside of traditional business; among his cohort were a couple of accountants, solo entrepreneurs, and even a family therapist. Fortunately, the Sy Syms curriculum is carefully designed to accommodate different industries and job titles with a big-picture mindset and real-world exercises.
“I liked the variety of people and careers. It definitely supplied lots to talk about during class—how each of us can view the same situation or the same case differently. It brought out a lot of the human side of business. I think that's great because that's where the world is going: it’s forward-facing and it’s relationship focused,” David says.
In one course, David and his small group had to create a fictional business plan from a case study. Although he and his peers all came from different professional backgrounds, coming together to build and implement a plan was a standout experience that taught him how to combine multiple areas of expertise and work together. This practice of collaboration, learning, and mutual respect is fundamental to the online MBA program and helps many cohorts become closer not just as colleagues, but also as friends.
“It was extremely helpful for all sides,” David explains. “You can get a reality from one person and see that it’s different from somebody else's reality, and you have to discuss and problem solve to make the two meet. It brought a robustness to the experience that I wasn’t expecting.”
Making Changes for the Better
At the end of his MBA experience, David has found that one of the best things the program gave him was perspective. He and his cohort took the knowledge and experiences they gained to reevaluate their situations and either change jobs, receive a salary increase, or pursue alternative paths that were more in line with their interests.
“I think the program helped people focus on their long term plans, whether it was to grow or to move into something else,” he says. “For me personally, it helped me home in on where I want to be and what kind of a career I want, as opposed to what I might just fall into. Everything is much more intentional.”
As work environments become more flexible and careers become less linear, David is looking forward to creating a structure where he can work on his own and explore new territories, specifically in financial coaching. With the Yeshiva community behind him, he’s already taking steps to achieve those goals.
“It's really because of the program that I’ve made any of these changes. Now, I understand what the long game is and understand what my needs are. It helped me realize that something else worked for me and it was within my reach. All I had to do was try.”
Empower Yourself to Achieve Your Goals
Wherever you are in your professional journey, you owe it to yourself to explore the possibilities of an Online MBA. Just like David, earning your degree from Yeshiva Sy Syms can help you find the resources, knowledge, and encouragement you need to thrive personally and professionally.
Contact an Admissions Advisor to start the conversation and see where an online MBA can take you.