8 Qualities of Remarkable MBA Students – A Peer Perspective

This post is by Dr. Rodney G. Alsup from myeEMBA, a Blog designed to help MBA students live and work smarter while earning their MBA degree. Alsup has almost 30 years of higher education teaching and administrative experience, most of which is working with MBA students.

While reading a recent article by Jeff Haden, “8 Qualities of Remarkable Employees” my thoughts turned to the qualities of remarkable MBA students. I took the liberty of reworking Jeff’s eight qualities, modifying his wording so it applied to MBA students and created new qualities and descriptions when his wording would not work. Furthermore, I realized while writing that an MBA faculty member’s list of qualities will likely differ from those found on an MBA student’s list. With this in mind, the following qualities are those that I think make an MBA student remarkable in the eyes of an MBA classmate, MBA peer, or MBA team member. Moreover, I see these eight qualities as a starting point. I invite the MyeEMBA readers to add to the list.

Great MBA peers are “reliable, dependable, proactive, diligent, respectful, willing to share… they possess a wide range of easily-defined—but hard to find—qualities.” However, some are remarkable, possessing qualities that may not appear on admission criteria but nonetheless make a major impact on the experiences of other MBA students. The following is a list of those qualities:

1. They ignore course/team assignment boundaries.

Great MBA peers meet expectations by completing homework assignments or work assigned to them by team members. On the other hand, a remarkable MBA peer exceeds expectations and does more than complete homework assignments or team assignments.

When a team project is in jeopardy, remarkable MBA students recognize there is a problem and without being asked jump in and do what is necessary to complete the project—even if it is not their responsibility.

2. They are eccentric.

Remarkable MBA students are often a little different: quirky, sometimes irreverent, even delighted to be unusual. They seem slightly odd, but in a good way.

Unusual personalities shake things up, make class work more fun, and transform a plain-vanilla group of MBA students into a team with flair and flavor. People who are not afraid to be different naturally stretch boundaries and challenge the status quo, and they often come up with the best ideas.

3. But, they know when to dial it back.

An unusual personality is a lot of fun… until it isn’t. When a major challenge pops up or a situation gets stressful, the remarkable MBA students stop expressing their individuality and fit seamlessly into the team or the class.

Remarkable MBA students know when to play and when to be serious; when to be irreverent and when to conform; and when to challenge and when to back off. It’s a tough balance to strike, but a rare few can walk that fine line with ease.

4. They publicly praise…

Praise from a faculty member feels good. Praise from an MBA peer feels awesome, especially when you look up to that person.

Remarkable MBA students recognize the contributions of their peers, especially in group or classroom settings where the impact of their words is even greater.

5. And, they privately complain.

We all want MBA program, faculty, and student issues addressed, but some problems are better handled in private. Great MBA students often get more latitude to bring up controversial subjects in a group setting because their performance allows greater freedom.

Remarkable MBA students come to their peers or faculty before or after a meeting to discuss a sensitive issue, knowing that bringing it up in a group setting could set off a firestorm.

6. They speak when others won’t.

Sometimes MBA students are hesitant to speak up in class. Some are even hesitant to speak up during team meetings or breakout sessions. Speaking up, in this context includes both asking questions and answering questions, with a special emphasis on “when others won’t.” Sometimes they speak up when there is prolonged silence following a professor’s question or when discussing an assignment that it is clear to everyone but the professor that a majority of the class does not understand what is required.

Remarkable MBA students have an innate feel for the issues and concerns of their peers, and step up to ask questions or raise important issues when others hesitate.

7. They like to prove others wrong.

Self-motivation often springs from a desire to show that doubters are wrong. The kid without a college degree or the woman who was told she didn’t have leadership potential often possess a burning desire to prove other people wrong.Education, intelligence, talent, and skill are important, but drive is critical.

Remarkable MBA students are driven by something deeper and more personal than just the desire to complete an assignment or earn their MBA degree.

8. They’re always fiddling.

Some people are rarely satisfied (I mean that in a good way) and are constantly tinkering with something: reworking an assignment, adjusting a presentation, tweaking a PowerPoint slide. Great MBA students meet expectations.

Remarkable MBA students find ways to make their work or their team’s work even better, not only because they are expected to… but also because they just can’t help it.

I think remarkable MBA students possess these qualities. Have you encountered remarkable MBA students that have these qualities? Would you like to add other qualities?

Let us know in the comments.