Published: Nov. 4, 2022

From Business at Leeds 2022 | Full issue

John Helmers and Kristi Ryujin in the Rustandy Building.

John Helmers, left, with Kristi Ryujin, associate dean for graduate programs, in the Rustandy Building. Helmers completed his MBA at Leeds during the financial crisis; then, as now, global events made his graduate studies ‘a bit of a petri dish, a live learning lab for leaders.’

A strong job market can be a deterrent to seeking an MBA—why go to school when work is plentiful? 

As it turns out, a strong economy is an ideal time to upskill. When John Helmers (MBA’07) was telling his uncle he was thinking about grad school, “he said to me, ‘The timing isn’t important. You’ll never regret the investment in yourself.’”

Employers won’t be this aggressive in recruiting candidates forever, and when that stops, having the blend of skills, perspective and leadership training that an MBA offers will be that much more valuable. 

Helmers, director of graduate career management at Leeds, compared the classroom climate to the end of the 2008 financial crisis, which he called “a bit of a petri dish, a live learning lab for leaders.” 

“There’s still a lot of dust settling,” Helmers said. “For the next two years, there’s going to be a lot of lessons learned from the changing paradigm in work, in school and everything else. For employers, they want students who have those leadership skills, and who are learning from world-class experts who are equipping them for all the changes waiting for them after graduation.” 

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