How do you balance work and life in Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives? Ask management consultant Akshay Mehta, WG’18, who finds time for a new baby, studies, and a heavy travel schedule.

Wharton EMBA students juggle a lot. For Akshay Mehta, WG’18, the juggling involves school, a busy consulting career, lots of travel, and a baby. While he has a full plate, Akshay says that it is all “doable.” The key is having a good strategy in place.

“I’m younger so I thought about going to a full-time program where I would only focus on school, but I didn’t want to dilute my professional experience. I also saw the value of going to school with more experienced classmates and applying what I learned in class to my job,” he said. He came to Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives in San Francisco as a Fellows student.

As for what his life is like as an EMBA student, Akshay explained that he and his wife welcomed their first child during his second term in school, he travels for his consulting job three to five days a week, and he spends 15 to 25 hours a week on school work.

Akshay and his family
Akshay and his family

Akshay’s Advice for Managing Work-Life Balance

Be Transparent

The most important factor, according to Akshay, is to be transparent with the stakeholders in all parts of your life, which includes personal, professional, friends and family. “My wife and I had a conversation around how we would manage having a baby while I am in the program and came up with a plan. I also tell her my schedule in advance so we can find times to connect. I don’t want her surprised by anything or to feel like she isn’t a priority,” he said.

Develop Flexibility

Another factor is recognizing that you can’t plan for everything. “You can’t design your week like an architect because you need flexibility. In Term 3, I was juggling a very important project at work at the same time as a big assignment was due at school. I had to shuffle what I had planned to address the changing priorities and get everything done,” he said.

Find Support

Akshay’s strategy at work involves developing and mentoring the next leadership team. “It’s important to build the right team and put in the time to coach them well so they can manage work streams with minimal oversight while I am at school,” he said. At school, he calls teamwork “critical.” “Be transparent with your study team and let them know if something comes up at work or home and you need support. Then, in the next assignment, do more than your share. Everyone is busy and needs support from time to time. By being honest and proactive with your classmates, you build trust and they will provide that support.”

Use Commuting Time

Living in San Diego, Akshay uses his commuting time to San Francisco to focus on school work. “I read through cases to ensure I’m prepared for class discussions. I often discuss school work with other classmates on my flight. The idea is to be efficient while traveling for work or to school.”

Create Boundaries

“It’s hard for ambitious people to say no, but lack of sleep takes a toll. You need to learn to create boundaries and be thoughtful about what you can and cannot do,” he said.

Reflect Back

Akshay continually reflects on the strategies that have worked and those that haven’t been as successful. He explained, “If something didn’t work out, I think about why so that I can continue to refine my strategy. Honest reflection is critical to improving your time management skills.”

Posted: December 7, 2017

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