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Saying Goodbye to Imposter Syndrome: How an Invited MBA Alumna Transitioned from Marketing to a Top Five Business

Katelyn Powell Avatar
Imposter Syndrome

Hannah Rivers describes herself as “the fixer, the one who can figure it out.” From working in pizza shops and babysitting as a teenager to planning events for Google and Lego as an adult, she has always been a go-getter. But being a jack of all trades can often lead to imposter syndrome and questioning qualifications over experience. 

After graduating from Towson University with a degree in marketing and working five years in advertising and trade show sales out of Baltimore, Hannah took a job as a full-time event planner at Sparks, a global brand agency in Philadelphia.

There, she worked with well known brands like Google and Samsung to create immersive and visually-appealing event activations all over the U.S. After a few years of jet-setting to different events, a short stint at a commercial real estate firm, and taking eight months offline to travel the globe, she was itching for stability and career growth. 

Hannah Rivers Imposter Syndrome

Hannah had always wanted to live in San Diego or Austin, and the latter was closer. So, she packed her belongings, drove from the East Coast to Texas, and prepared to make a life in the state capital.

“I was so used to that lifestyle, being able to go, go go, all the time. I didn’t know anyone in Texas, but I knew I would find new places and new friends because I had done it before,” she said.

But following the life changing move, she was unsure of her place in corporate America – was she an event planner or a marketer? Could she be an executive assistant or a project manager? She wasn’t even sure what skills she needed.

Hannah took a job at an Austin-based company, Adlucent, quickly advancing from Executive Assistant to becoming an integral part of the Finance and Operations team. Though she was no stranger to change, this new role required a significant amount of finance, data analytics, and data visualization. To help level up her skills, Adlucent covered the tuition cost of the Invited MBA.

“I realized immediately that the Invited MBA is laid out in a way that makes it easy and fun to connect with people, learn, soak things in, and improve a variety of skills. You’re getting reading material, you’re getting projects, you’re playing decision-making games. I really enjoyed that it made business concepts easy to learn,” she said.

Hannah was able to take Invited MBA classes after work on Wednesdays and Saturday mornings, which allowed for her to still be employed full-time while completing her mini-MBA.

“The Invited MBA improved my financial literacy in just 12 weeks, which is what I needed to succeed in a completely new and unfamiliar analytical role.” she said. “I had taken finance and accounting classes before, but this mini-MBA was far more hands-on than any other college level program. The gamification was really rewarding because it gave me ownership of the concepts and was much more digestible than a lecture or reading assignment.”

After completing the accelerated business program and proving her enhanced financial literacy on the job, she received a raise but decided it was time to take a different path. 

She said, “I realized that even though I gained a better understanding of finance, I didn’t enjoy it – I’m a people person, not a numbers person. That’s not what I wanted to do with my life, and I needed that reassurance. Then I got a raise and a job offer in the same week.”

Hannah accepted a role as Resource Planning Manager at CVS Health, the largest company she has worked for and ranked number five in the Fortune 500 list. But she did experience some trepidation in the decision-making process.  

“I’ve always been the one that can do everything. When a problem comes up, people immediately say, ‘Hannah can do it.’ Even though I’ve done that my entire career, I’ve struggled with imposter syndrome and asking myself if I’m really qualified to be making these decisions or to take these roles,” she said.

Looking back now, Hannah feels that the Invited MBA has prepared her to pivot into a variety of roles, including the one at CVS, confident in her communication skills, business acumen, and project management abilities.

Hannah Rivers Imposter Syndrome

“The Invited MBA really helped me overcome that imposter syndrome. It’s easy to get caught questioning your abilities or experience. But I know now that I can do it,” she said. “Being exposed to people in my cohort from different industries and working together with them to solve real-life problems was so valuable and applicable to the real world. I feel confident going into this next phase of my life. I’m excited to narrow my focus and contribute to a larger solution at CVS Health.”

Thinking about the future, Hannah is confident in the network of other professionals she met through the Invited MBA. She believes the cohort-based nature of the program provides long standing benefits for alumni.

“I met incredible people in my cohort I was able to learn from and grow with. I still talk to them in a group text, see them at networking events, and it makes problem-solving easier with different perspectives,” she said. “You don’t have to have everything figured out on your own.”

When asked if she thinks her new role is “the dream job”, Hannah is unsure. Her interests and skills vary, but she’s sure of one thing – she is not afraid of the future. If anything, she’s actually more self-assured now in uncertainty. She’s confident that her skills and accomplishments allow her the flexibility to change careers or job duties. It’s an attitude she embraces every day, and now with even more confidence.

She said, “Learning is a lifelong process. Taking the Invited MBA set a foundation of skills for me to pivot into any career I want. That’s what I’ve done my whole life, and now I’m confident in the qualities and accomplishments I bring to the table, whatever comes next.”

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