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Poker Power at Kellogg: A Conversation with EMBA Sandra Pope

Poker Power has partnered with the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University to teach female-identifying MBAs leadership skills through the game of poker. We were able to speak with Sandra Pope, an Executive MBA candidate and the VP of marketing at Fresh & Co, about her experience.

Poker Power (PP:) With the multitude of extracurricular offerings at Kellogg, what drew you to Poker Power’s program?

Sandra Pope (SP:) I thought the program was a unique way to pair leadership development with an activity. It seemed like the type of program that many women I know would want to do if they had the time.

PP: How has your experience so far differed from your expectations about poker?

SP: I had never played before and didn’t know what to expect, there’s a lot of strategy I’m still learning. The combination of leadership lessons and poker moves tie into one another really well; I’m enjoying the experience. The slide decks and videos are very helpful but the material goes fast, I wish the program was two weeks longer. 

PP: Do you see parallels between what you’ve learned in the course and your pre-mba work experience in marketing with brands such as Chipotle and Fresh & Co?
SP: There are so many parallels between what I’ve learned and components of my work experience. A few off the top of my head are decision-making, reading people, taking risks, and negotiation. 

PP: What is your opinion on the place of poker and soft skill courses in higher education?

SP: I think soft skills are very important and they naturally compliment the hard skills we’re learning in our core classes. Ideally, soft skill offerings would address the different needs of the student base: there could be soft skills specific to marketing or designed for women for example. It would depend on what the students find most useful.

PP: What advice would you give a young woman who wants to become an impactful leader in business and marketing?

SP: I would say find out what you want and go after it. If you have a goal in mind, you understand the rules and possibilities of that space. This helps you take smart risks effectively.

PP: Thank you so much for speaking with us, best wishes through the rest of your Kellogg journey!

SP: Thank you!

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