“Day 1 ready” is a term that is repeated a lot during Hult’s MBA program. You may guess that it refers to being prepared to handle finance, accounting, or marketing, the so-called “hard skills” in business school. but it’s more than that. It means that the program is designed to prepare students to be effective decision-makers on their very first day on the job.

Watch for your soft skills!

According to research, the skills that employers look for the most in MBA graduates are interpersonal skills:

  • communication,
  • self-awareness,
  • teamwork

They are also known as “soft skills”. Employers have basically said “book smarts” are not enough to prepare people for a fast-changing and complex work environment.

As future managers, we will need to make decisions constantly. We will also need to be able to justify those decisions—and live with them. This is why we are constantly challenged to think about the consequences of our decisions and the reasoning process behind them during the program. Here are the two important questions we have been trained to ask ourselves: “Why did you make this choice?” and “How will this decision impact your environment?

The next step is to translate the answers into a feasible plan and appropriate actions. Let me tell you a story about how I applied this step to my professional and personal development.

How to improve your soft skills

Throughout my MBA program, I’ve been constantly seeking open and direct feedback from friends, colleagues, peers, and navigators (management consultants who provide coaching to students). I’ve learned to accept their comments, whether I agreed with them or not, without judgment. This can be very difficult at first. However, “practice makes perfect”.

This is a necessary, pivotal step in increasing self-awareness because how we perceive our strengths and development opportunities can be very different from how others see them. This makes feedback key. Without truly understanding ourselves, how can we deduce our values and motivations?

In the first Module of the MBA course, “Immersion,” we were introduced to the “Hult DNA” concept, in which we learned about 56 different themes, competencies, and skills that play a role in students’ development throughout the program. They can also be measured. At the end of Immersion, we were organized into teams and, based on the Hult DNA criteria, we evaluated our teammates. In my final evaluation, my peers gave me the feedback that I needed to improve my communication skills. I agreed.

Personal Development Plan

As a result, I created a Personal Development Plan (PDP) with actionable goals. One of them was to give a clear and concise presentation in front of my cohort. I started participating more actively in discussions to improve my English proficiency. I sought constant feedback from my classmates and professors. I ran for class representative, and volunteered to participate in every single group presentation. These actions helped me to improve my confidence within six months, and though they took me out of my comfort zone, they enhanced my relationships with my classmates. My PDP has become an ongoing plan to assess my communication skills, even after I graduate.

Hult is the ideal environment in which to learn how to develop your professional mindset, interpersonal influence, and become better at collaboration and self-awareness. These skills can help you develop into a leader who contributes to a positive and productive work environment, and one who communicate values and goals clearly. I know, because that has been my own experience. But even more than that, these skills will give you greater respect for the unique differences we all possess, without making them obstacles toward building a cohesive team that accomplishes great results.

Rafael Natali is a Hult Global Ambassador. He has a background in Information Technology with over 10 years of experience, and four as a manager. He is currently an MBA student at Hult’s London Campus, where he is enhancing his knowledge and business skills, while in the midst of a multicultural experience.