Learning to Break the Frame

As graduation nears, Laura Cushing, MBA Class of 2017 reflects on why incorporating fresh perspectives and shattering preconceived notions are a prerequisite for a transformative MBA journey.

In August 2015, I walked into a daunting hall crowded with 296 new faces. The people that would be my classmates for the next 19 months waited eagerly for the ceremony to begin and the first speaker to take the stage.

Professor Alejandro Lago walked up to the stage and posed a bold question to the audience, “Are you here to get an MBA or are you here to become a Master in Business Administration?”

I had never separated the two in my mind and was tempted to dismiss it, but I knew that he might be onto something. He went onto explain that an MBA was an accreditation on your resume and becoming a Master of Business Administration requires a transformational journey to take place. A journey that required breaking the frame before we were allowed to move forward.

IESE MBA Class of 2017 (Section A)

IESE MBA Class of 2017 (Section A)

As classes started, I quickly learned that there was not just one frame to be broken or on solely one occasion. My life leading up the MBA had subtly molded my experiences and influences into reference points. And they were at odds with my new environment.

In order to shatter the reality each of us held, it required the capability of recognizing a frame was in place and a willingness to remove it by incorporation of the new and removal of the old.

Incorporation of the new occurred every day I sat down for a team meeting, walked into a classroom to begin a case study or explored career paths. It insisted on making unsettling experiences the norm. Removal of the old demanded previous ways of thinking and bias to be checked at the door. It required acceptance for the things around you and an understanding that your life will be extremely different after leaving the MBA.

Fast forward 19 months to end of the program, and those fortuitous words of being a Master of Business Administration still ring crystal clear in my mind. The MBA was exhaustive, challenging, and pushes you to limits you didn’t know you were capable of and then asks for more. It’s built me into a firm believer that genuine transformation will never happen unless individuals are presented with or seek out what appear to be impossible hurdles. To unearth the capabilities we have held inside the entire time.

But the journey hasn’t ended. It’s actually just started and the MBA was just the beginning. A frame can only be removed if the person realizes there is something worth refocusing on.

Pre-graduation pictures with the team

Pre-graduation pictures with the team

Congratulations to all the soon to be graduates from IESE MBA Class of 2017!  


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Laura Cushing View more

MBA 2017


  1. That is a truly introspective statement. “Are you here to get an MBA or are you here to become a Master in Business Administration?” Too many people think that getting an MBA is simply a way to check a box. It’s really a way to master business and become a better person. Thanks for the post!

  2. Thank you Laura for sharing this wonderful post with us. Your professor couldn’t have said it better. Life is all about breaking the frame and accepting new challenges that push your limits. It is about absorbing new ideas and notions and infusing your own thought in these ideas. All the best for the future.

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