by Leslie Reyes, WH MBA ’08
“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” – Dr. Seuss
I could never have imagined the experiences that would shape me into the professional that I am today. From the excitement of my first business trip and being promoted into leadership to the challenges of conducting a difficult performance review and leading a global team through a digital transformation – each experience has taught me more about myself and my capacity to grow and change.
As the oldest daughter of Dominican immigrants, I learned the value of hard work at a young age. Education was the top priority in our household. As a woman of color, my parents always reminded me that I would have to work harder and longer to get ahead. I excelled academically and majored in Neuroscience as an undergrad with the intention of becoming a Neurosurgeon. Naively, I thought that I had my entire life mapped out. Of course, that was before realizing that a career in medicine was not right for me. I explored a variety of roles throughout my 20s ranging from clinical recruitment to editorial assistant to sales and marketing. At each place, I learned more about myself, what I liked and disliked, the colleagues I wanted to work with, leaders I wanted to work for, and most importantly the leader I wanted to be. I also traveled extensively and loved interacting with people from all over the world. When I decided to get my MBA, Wharton was a perfect fit.
My Wharton experience was transformative. The education and the toolkit that I received and the connections that I made opened more doors and presented me with more opportunities than I ever dreamed possible. While in business school, I was inspired to start my own IT staffing company. After graduation, I briefly worked at WebMD before deciding to re-launch my company as a Sales and Marketing Consultancy. When I wanted global experience, I joined GE Healthcare where I also learned to lead a 50-person team. Having gained corporate experience, I was ready for a change and joined an early stage biotech to build their first Customer Success team. By this time, I had started a family and wanted to focus on my young children so I returned to my consulting practice. The connections that I made at Wharton helped me grow my business and continue to expand my network.
So far, my professional journey has been filled with adventure and fascinating people and places, as well as unexpected turns and twists that caught me off-guard and forced me to re-examine my priorities and shift gears. I’ve learned my greatest lessons during my toughest times, when I was feeling uncertain about my next steps. Yet, I never stopped moving – sometimes forwards, other times backwards or sideways. Ultimately, life is about taking risks and challenging yourself to get out of your comfort zone and grow.
“Kid, You’ll Move Mountains. Your mountain is waiting so get on your way” – Dr. Seuss