It took an MBA from American University’s Kogod School of Business to inspire Victoria Bulson’s career change. After entering the program as a commercial real estate researcher, she’s now flying high in her consulting career.
Before earning her MBA in 2017, Victoria had been craving a career change to reignite her personal and professional development. Real estate wasn’t for her. “That’s where I started and, thankfully for my sake, transitioned out of,” she says.
She’s now a senior consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton in Washington DC—one of her primary clients is the federal government—where she focuses on federal management consulting.
And it was during the MBA that she found her passion.
From real estate to a career in consulting
Victoria chose Kogod for a few reasons. The location of the school in the heart of DC was a big pull, alongside the caliber of the faculty and the opportunity to learn in small cohorts. That, paired with the hands-on learning style between peers and professors, matched what Victoria was looking for in a business school.
It was in the Kogod MBA program that Victoria’s career direction started to take shape. A consulting elective piqued her interest and led her to where she is today.
Kogod's MBA students can also take courses like Project Management, Management Consulting Practice and Methodologies, and Negotiating Strategy and Tactics, all of which further their consulting ability.
“That was definitely eye-opening,” she says. “I’d obviously heard of consulting; I knew people that were in consulting, but it's such a broad term that you don't fully understand what goes into the job, and the holistic aspects of it.
“The professor we had came into the classroom with years of consulting experience, and she had great insight into the realm of consulting and the kind of work that was really being done, and how to apply all the things that you learn in your MBA.”
Consulting was the change Victoria was after as it gave her the things she wanted from her post-MBA career. It's intellectually challenging and has a clearly laid out path for professional development—things her previous career in real estate didn't give her.
“I felt discontented and couldn't really see my trajectory going forward. I really wanted a career that I felt challenged by and intellectually rewarded for my work, and an area where the path for advancement is very clear and laid out.”
After graduating, she spent nearly three years as a consultant with Savan Group, before landing her current role as a senior consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton.
How the Kogod MBA developed Victoria into a consultant
There was one key aspect of the MBA at the Kogod School of Business that prepared Victoria for her career in consulting: the MBA immersions.
The immersions are three-to-four-day-long programs exposing students to representatives from both domestic and global businesses. Students work in teams to solve a real-life business problem and then present their findings to the rest of the cohort at the end of the immersion.
Teamwork is key, emphasizes Victoria. And the collaborative and hands-on nature of the immersions set Victoria up to work in a similarly demanding environment.
“I have colleagues from diverse backgrounds that really challenge the way that I’m looking at a problem or challenge the way I’m recommending the solution,” she says.
Read more Kogod MBA stories:
Meet The Kogod School of Business MBA Who’s Now A Nonprofit COO
Indian Engineer Becomes US Pharma CEO After MBA Degree
Life as an MBA consultant
It is important to feel appreciated in whatever field you go into. Victoria says she feels “really fortunate” to have found an industry where she is valued for the work she does: “I can honestly say that I love my job,” she adds.
And how about her personal development? “I'm constantly learning new things. And, by having the federal government as your primary client, you feel as though your work is very impactful. It's very rewarding.”
Victoria emphasizes that to be a successful consultant you need to focus on developing strong critical and analytical thinking.
“That’s something Kogod definitely helped me develop,” she recalls.
Looking forward, Victoria is aware of how careers can continue to change. As she says, “Even if you decide to move away from consulting, I think the industry gives you very transferable skills and has a broader range of knowledge that you can apply to a variety of industries.”