Interview with Emma Foster, MBA Candidate at Columbia Business School

27 Oct 2017 1:37 PM | MC C (Administrator)

Success is such a personal concept – we all see and define it differently. How did you personally define your success?

For me, balance is everything. I’ve never been the kind of person who has one specific, be-all-end-all dream, and subsequently, I have a zillion interests and ambitions. While I do feel that’s what makes life so amazing, it also means I usually have about a million of those zillion things up in the air at any given time. I think that when I can manage to balance, let's say, 10 of those things up in the air, and still have a smile on, I can count that as success.

What advice would you give women who want to enter your side of the industry? What are your top three tips?

  1. Don’t take it personally

  2. Play to your strengths

  3. Know everything there is to know about everything

How have the personal and professional experiences in your life contributed to your success today?

This is a huge question, because I feel like success can’t really be measured in terms of ‘I’m successful today,’ but rather all the personal and professional experiences I’ve had so far have been sprinkled with moments of success. That’s hard to realize in our goal-oriented industry, but it’s the way life is, and it’s so important to stop every now and then in the midst of it all and celebrate the successes.

Can you share with us some of the challenges you’ve faced?

I reached a point last year where I was stuck. I wasn’t sure I wanted to move forward along the career trajectory I had set for myself, but I also wasn’t sure what else there was to do. So, I started talking to as many people as I could to figure out next steps. For me, it was applying to business school, where I am now,  and I think I made the absolute right decision. But for anyone, that moment of recognizing you don’t want to go down the path ahead, and making the decision to either pivot or run in the opposite direction, that's always the toughest, but also the most important part of working towards your goals.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?

Just because someone says you can’t do something doesn’t mean that you have to back down. You can always find a way to make your life what you want it to be.

Who inspires you and why?

Honestly, I’m amazed by so many people in this world that it’s hard to pick just one. But right now I love Cindy Gallop. She gives these amazing and totally inspiring speeches, mainly to women, where she talks about her career in the advertising world and the hurdles she overcame, and gives the best, no-nonsense answers at Q&As I’ve ever heard. I’m hoping she’d approve of my answers in this one!

How did you get involved at CBS? What is your ultimate goal and what do you need to take it to the next level?  What do you look forward to accomplishing at Columbia Business School in the next year?

I studied English and Art History in undergrad, and have always been more liberal arts inclined. But I needed a way to expand my horizons in the business world. I decided that business school offered me the concrete tools and connections to make that transition, and I applied!

I’m looking forward to so many things at CBS, but I think most of all, I can’t wait to experience as many different career paths as I possibly can. It’s so rare to have the time and opportunity to stop and actually decide what to do with our lives, I am not going to leave any rock unturned.

You can follow Emma on Instagram at @hamsterfeed

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