Kristen’s journey of change
For Kristen, change has been something she’s always thrived on. As someone who has been an international jazz-singer, actress, entrepreneur, blog writer, living and working in many different parts of the world, she’s no stranger to pursuing new adventures. Her desire to follow her passions and travel the world has allowed her to try many different careers and develop a diverse range of skills and experiences that very few could claim to share.
Now as an MBA graduate Kristen is using everything she’s learnt from those unconventional experiences to drive change as a Senior Consultant at Deloitte; working with clients across major programmes to rewrite the future, solving their complex challenges with sustainable, transformative solutions.
Kristen’s decision to return to studying full-time was characteristic of her desire to keep pushing herself and try new things. “Having originally applied to study Marketing & Strategy, WBS encouraged me to do an MBA and take things further, and it was the best decision I ever made”.
“Studying at Warwick changed my whole career. I went from entertainment to consulting. From living in Asia to working in the UK. It gave me the confidence and renewed my belief that as long as I apply myself, I can achieve anything”.
Be curious, take risks and put the work in. You’ll make leaps
After graduating with a BA in Theatre Arts from Point Park University, Pittsburgh USA, Kristen left her home in New York to travel to Bangkok in pursuit of a career in the performing arts. Self-described as “born in New York, built in Asia”, Kristen spent the next ten years performing as a resident jazz singer in luxury hotels across Vietnam, Thailand, Macau and Hong Kong. Whilst performing, she co-founded Broadway Babe (performing under this stage name in Bangkok) and Musical Theatre for KIDS.
Using her natural entrepreneurial skills and drive to create two entertainment-based brands, both leading to consultancy contracts, Kristen improved entertainment operations within luxury hotels across the Asia Pacific region.
In 2018, after 10 years working in arts and entertainment, Kristen decided it was time to do pursue something different and explore a new path. She felt returning to study and focusing on a more business-oriented route was the best way forward to build on everything she’d learnt.
I am more than just an entertainer; as an expat, I created several small businesses and in my free time I am interested in history, economics and politics. I wanted to stretch my potential and formalise these other talents and interests."
Keen to continue to upskill herself but also translate her existing skills into more of a consulting and business leadership role, she decided to pursue an MBA.
As someone with a love for different cultures, one of the most rewarding parts was the global diversity of the MBA programme. “With so many nationalities you get to meet people from all over the world. It opens doors, makes you more curious and able to look at the world differently” said Kristen.
As well as different perspectives, the MBA gave Kristen the exposure she wanted to explore different avenues, businesses, and careers. Her consultancy project helped her to hone and develop skills that she uses in her consultancy career today.
You have to be uncomfortable sometimes to drive change. Take risks. Have courage to start a new course or try a new path. Inspire others through your actions
“I did my MBA consultancy project with Aston Martin Lagonda, the luxury British automotive brand often seen in the James Bond films. My topic was to research the best practices of measuring marketing ROI in the luxury automotive sector and, based on my findings, to deliver recommendations to the firm. I was drawn to this project as having spent roughly four years working with luxury hotels as a contractor, and having enjoyed the international exchange module on Luxury Brand Management at SDA Bocconi, I was keen to further develop my knowledge of luxury brands. In addition, as an entrepreneur who has often overseen my own marketing, I thought it would be interesting to deepen my knowledge of marketing ROI and the varying metrics firms use to measure it,” said Kristen.
Because the project was carried out offsite, Kristen had the opportunity to develop and strengthen her client relationship and management skills. “Not being in the office meant I had to focus especially hard on building a good rapport, creating trust and managing the expectations of my client. The regularity, consistency and clarity of my communications was crucial.”
Finally, the consultancy project boosted her research and reporting skills. As the deliverable was best practices and recommendations on measuring marketing ROI for the luxury automotive sector, Kristen had to conduct both high level academic research as well as industry-based interviews. “It was crucial to fuse the information and present it in an easily readable and most importantly, actionable report.”
Despite the intensity of the programme, Kristen still managed to put her entertainment skills to good use at WBS by starting her own radio programme, ‘The MBA show” with fellow student Said Muhtadi. “It was a huge success with lots of guests on to discuss aspects of the course and student life. Every Sunday the cohort WhatsApp group came alive with comments and laughter. The show was something we all got to share, providing listeners with valuable stories, anecdotes and information to help them during their time at Warwick,” said Kristen.
All of these opportunities combined together to create a very fulfilling experience. “As part of the MBA cohort I was inspired to do more and be better in every way; everyone is open, curious and extremely driven. When I started at WBS I had major imposter syndrome. In the end I finished the MBA with a distinction. Every day I was learning more and growing in skills. It renewed my confidence.”
Going from an entertainment career in Asia to working in one of the biggest consultancies in the world is a big leap, but one Kristen made because of the MBA.
When it was time to think about next steps Kristen spent time with the WBS careers team to explore her options. “The careers team are really supportive and help to coach you to look outside of your comfort zone and consider all avenues with confidence,” said Kristen.
In the end it was a friend who encouraged her to apply for the role at Deloitte, and now Kristen is using what she’s learnt to inspire others to follow their passions; and practically in her career, helping clients to realise their ambitions through change programmes.
In life anything can happen. Be open and see where your journey takes you
In 2020 she co-founded The Modern MBA, a podcast and online community to support MBA students who have taken less conventional career paths to realise their ambitions, by providing insights, experiences, and career advice from people who faced the same challenges.
And as a Senior Consultant in Deloitte's Major Programmes team, she supports businesses and industry to solve complex, transformative challenges, including helping to reach global net-zero targets and create a sustainable future. Leading the delivery and lifecycle management of major capital infrastructure, Kristen creates a dynamic environment where she anticipates, intervenes and responds to challenges using a flexible and trusted process.
“If anyone is thinking about going for the MBA at WBS I would simply say go for it. If you can do it – do it. It’s simply the most amazing year. Just think about your priorities and know what you want to get out of it. Be open and give everyone, and every opportunity a chance. You never know where it may take you”.