The Leading Independent
Resource for Top-tier MBA
Home » Blog » Real Humans of MBA Students » Real Humans of the Washington University Olin MBA Class of 2024 » Page 6

Real Humans of the Washington University Olin MBA Class of 2024

Image for Real Humans of the Washington University Olin MBA Class of 2024

Vitaliy Sharlay, Washington University Olin MBA Class of 2024

Age: 33
Hometown: Chernivtsi, Ukraine
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Political Science and Government BA & MA degrees at Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University, Ukraine.
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Four years as a local elected official, volunteer, civic activist, and six years as a public policy researcher in non-profit, public sector.

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I gained strong analytical and managerial skills over the years of working in policy research. As a civic and political activist, most of my professional experience is related to developing democratic practices in Ukraine. I worked with national and local officials on data-driven decision-making issues, such as designing and delivering research results to national and local officials. This experience motivated me to take steps towards the entrepreneurship and consulting industry that has more flexibility and is not obliged to strict government regulations. MBA to me is the step towards gaining in-depth knowledge in global business and joining a network of professionals.

Why did you choose Washington Olin? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Olin Business School was at the top of my priority list of schools, as a place that matches my career goals and academic interests. Its global engagement, career platform in consulting, and practice-oriented programs became primary reasons to select WashU Olin among other schools. However, the decisive factor for me was Olin’s Entrepreneurial Fellowship. My family and I were displaced because of the Russian war on Ukraine, and with the fellowship opportunity, Olin provided, I got a chance to find a safe place.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2024?
I bring to the class a non-profit, volunteering, public sector, democracy development perspective, which is certainly reflected in my personality with over a decade of experience. I understand business context in developing and conflict-affected environments. Additionally, as an international student from Ukraine, I serve as a cultural ambassador and share knowledge about my country’s history, current political, social  and economic perspectives, and personally verified information about the war in Ukraine launched by Russia.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I enjoy reading a lot, watching fantasy/sci-fi movies (Marvel movies, Twin Peaks and Colombo shows are my favorites), visiting museums, outdoor events, and sports.

Post-MBA career interests:
I will join the entrepreneurship and consulting industry to do things that I like and value the most – solving challenging problems and helping people.

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Collect as much feedback as possible from all of your friends, colleagues and family. I used to practice this a long time ago, and it helped me during the application process. Each feedback was a source of reflection about my experiences, values and future career goals.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would start my applications months in advance. Many application essay questions require reflection on personal experience and it takes some time to prepare.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
My inner introvert keeps telling me that he does not want to talk to people when it’s a ‘cold call’. However, speaking with admission officers, students and EducationUSA advisers were crucial in helping me to navigate my application process and set priorities, so I would not advise anyone to skip it.

What is your initial impression of the Olin students/culture/community?
WashU Olin’s community has an incredible entrepreneurial spirit and thriving start-up potential. Each year, some MBA students generate ideas, create teams, and launch start-ups that get support from venture capital funds. Moreover, the school has a broader network of different business communities that always welcome new ideas and provide support.

What is one thing you have learned about Olin that has surprised you?
The most pleasantly outstanding and surprising factor to me was the high-level administrative organization and faculty support during the Global Immersion, a six-week international study program on three different continents. Since the very beginning of the Global Immersion, practically all MBA students were engaged in all possible activities, which require incredible intellectual and administrative resources to strategize, prepare and execute. Olin’s graduate program office and faculty showed their best by organizing a coherent curriculum and global learning experience.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Since the very beginning so far, summer and fall semesters are packed with core classes. Very intensive curriculum, professional development and networking events push students to learn the most important thing in business – trade-offs. All students have to make choices and recognize what is important for them and keep attention on essential things they came for pursuing MBA.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I am excited to have this incredible opportunity to be among highly motivated and self-conscious people, who know what they want in life. School walls are vibrating with the energy of development and global connections.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
Right before the COVID-19 pandemic, I got my second promotion and didn’t have a chance to reflect on my future career goals. So, during the pandemic, I found some time to reflect on my personal priorities and set up my list of top schools to apply to.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.