Going Beyond the A Grade



“Are you in the game?”  I’ve been asking myself that in my Doctor of Business Administration program.  Like many of my doctoral student peers, I’m working full-time, taking care of life’s usual responsibilities, and trying to find time to exercise and socialize.  The “game” is challenging – lots of balls in the air!

One thing I know for sure – when I’m up at midnight on Sunday nights uploading research papers for the 1 am deadline, I am one competitive player!

I’m in the game.  Why?  I’m challenging myself to “go beyond the A.”

“Going beyond the A” is researching articles on General Motors and then, after several hours of reading,  switching gears to write my ethics paper on Target instead.  The more I read about GM, the more I could understand Target’s failure to heed malware warnings much more easily than GM’s failure to find faulty ignition switches.

I have spent considerable time thinking about how hard it must be for CEOs like Gregg Steinhafel and Mary Barra to track such huge mistakes happening at the lower levels of their large bureaucratic companies.  Is “ignorance at the top” an excuse from one’s duty to provide ethical leadership and avoid harm to customers?  It’s a question worth pondering well after getting my grade.

In going beyond the “A,” I often make assignments harder than necessary.  When I had to select a newsworthy CEO for a paper on leadership styles, I decided to pick a female CEO.  It was much tougher to research Marissa Mayer than Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.  Why?  Women make up only 4% of S&P 500 Chief Executive Officers.  Information on their leadership styles is sparse.  I hope that women studying business all over the world go beyond their A’s to change that.

I’m creating new learning opportunities and pathways of thinking.

Are you in the game?  Go beyond the “A.”

 Lisa Cook, Aspiring DBA Student and Senior Director of Career Services

 Originally published on LinkedIn, April 15, 2016