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Mahesh_TuragaMahesh Turaga EMP 100 began his Executive MBA journey in the Fall 2014 quarter. As he gears up for his second quarter, these are his reflections on his time so far at Kellogg.

Orientation week is finally here.

That was my thought on a nice sunny day in August as I drove to Evanston to attend my orientation weekend at the Kellogg School of Management. Lot of mixed emotions were going through my mind: excitement, nervousness, and above all, a feeling that after months of waiting, it was finally happening.

After getting my acceptance in June, I eagerly waited for the program to start. I was finally going to Kellogg for my executive MBA!

As I was making the five-and-a-half hour drive to Evanston, I was still trying to wrap-up everything at work before the full live-in week at the Allen Center. While I did spend quite a bit of time trying to finish all the pre-readings, I still felt I could have prepared more by reading all the books that were sent to me.

Kellogg started classmate introductions before we arrived by inviting us to join the EMP 100 LinkedIn group. As we started networking, some of the earlier LinkedIn conversations helped break the ice, and in no time some of us felt we knew each other for a while. It was one of the most friendly and energetic groups of people I have met.

The first day we were introduced to various aspects of Kellogg, including the case environment and quantitative environment. During the presentations and lectures, the interactions among EMP 100 were lively. By the second day, we felt that we had developed strong bonds. By the end of day two, it was clear to me that I made the right decision to come to Kellogg.

On day two, our study groups were announced. This was the moment some of us were eagerly waiting for, to see who we’ll spend two years closely studying, debating and solving problems with. Prof. Keith led a few fun team-building exercises and we started to get to know the members of our teams. At Kellogg, study groups closely support each other throughout the two-year rigorous, yet fun, academic journey. As we debated and discussed the case questions, it was clear that we were learning a lot already, including how to interact with a cross-functional team of diverse backgrounds, how to lead and how to listen.

By the middle of the orientation week, it was clear that this week was going to be one of the best weeks of our lives. The last day of the orientation was the highlight of the week, a Hollywood-inspired “Kellowood” award ceremony for students. It celebrated the good memories we shared throughout the week.

“It was clear that we were learning a lot already, including how to interact with a cross-functional team of diverse backgrounds, how to lead and how to listen.”

The reason I chose Kellogg was for its vibrant, outgoing, collaborative culture that goes hand-in-hand with experiential learning. Orientation week surpassed all my expectations and I can already see a transformation in myself.

After my first quarter, I couldn’t wait to come back in January.

Looking back, orientation week set the tone for the rest of the quarter. Tackling four courses, including statistics, accounting, leadership and marketing was both demanding and fun. In statistics, we learned how we could make informed decisions in the face of uncertainty and insufficient data. Marketing class gave us an excellent framework for analyzing the phases of business planning and applying them to real-life situations. Personally, I loved the leadership course, which gave me insights into how successful leaders leverage their networks effectively, overcome biases and persuade others to follow their lead.

Our study groups worked closely together to tackle cases and assignments and we grew closer as a cohort. I believe the first quarter will have a special place in our EMBA experience. I look forward to more transformation in my second quarter!

Mahesh Turaga is the Director, SIMULIA Aerospace at Dassault Systemes, a technology software company and has been working with strategic customers in consumer products, aerospace & defense and oil & gas industries for 11 years. Mahesh lives in Cincinnati, Ohio and commutes to the Evanston campus.