The road to an MBA later in life can impact every single part of an executive’s life: from family to travel plans to financial savings.
So why do it? Because, as most EMBA program graduates will tell you, the rewards more than justify the sacrifices along the way. Take it from these alumni who took the leap each for their own specific reasons and all emerged with a diploma and an enhanced career trajectory on the other side.
After 25-years in an industry, it may seem strange to pursue an EMBA. But Gary DuBroc, an energy executive with a diverse array of top-tier management experience, knew there was still more he could learn from heading back to the classroom.
“I wanted an MBA program that satisfied two main criteria. First, I wanted a program with an in-depth, comprehensive curriculum that included finance, entrepreneurship, and operations. I was keen to focus on quantitative, data-driven, and scientific frameworks while harnessing the leadership, product management, and marketing skills that I have developed over the last 25 years. The second criterion was a worldwide/world class alumni base that will allow me to grow my personal network and open business opportunities across the world,” DuBroc says.
DuBroc chose the EMBA program at Tulane University. He earned his degree in 2010.
“Tulane exceeded my expectation in both areas,” he says.
With that world-class network and new academic insight into the skills he’d put into practice over the course of nearly three decades, DuBroc was able to achieve even more impressive results in the next phase of his career. He is now the senior operating advisor and multi-platform chairman for LaSalle Capital, a venture capital and private equity firm. He is also a highly sought-after thought leader in his industry and beyond.
For much of our careers, our ascent in the corporate hierarchy can feel confined to a narrow path. But it’s no wonder many rising executives get pigeonholed: it can be hard to visualize and predict broad industry trends when they are buried in the day-to-day concerns of their teams.
Sean M. Suggs worked for nearly a decade at Toyota. He’d worked his way up through a variety of roles but he knew that he needed more education to take a quantum leap forward in his career. He chose the Auburn University EMBA program.
“Throughout my studies, I received a broad understanding of North American’s impact to the global business market,” Suggs recalls. He received his EMBA in 2010 and quickly ascended to new heights at Toyota. “Today, as the vice president of manufacturing for Toyota’s Mississippi plant, I utilize my knowledge of organizational management, cost analysis and international business that was learned through the EMBA program to shape and advance the business goals of my team.”
Leadership in the business world is often dependent on our ability to sell ourselves. But that can be hard to do when we don’t believe the pitch.
For Kellie Boyd, a master’s degree in counseling did not feel like enough to take on a top role at a non-profit as she aspired to do. Sure, she already had the right background to run the social services side of things. But she was not yet confident in her business acumen. She sought out the Broad EMBA at Michigan State University—the same school where she had already earned her bachelor’s and her first master’s degree.
“I set out to go into the program, because I wanted to be a better leader,” Boyd, EMBA class of 2015 recalls. “I learned accounting, I learned finance, I learned about human resources, strategy: all of the things I needed to be a better business leader.”
After graduating from the Broad EMBA program, she took a leadership position with childcare non-profit First Children’s Finance, blending her newly-honed business acumen with her lifelong dedication to helping others in need.
“It has been very beneficial to me along the way to really merge business and human services because every non-profit has an accounting department, a human resources department. Everybody has to worry about finances, strategy, marketing, all of those things that make a business. So I find that there is just a beautiful partnership between human services and business,” she says.
But above all, returning to the classroom taught her to rely on herself as a business leader in a way she never felt comfortable doing before.
“The most valuable thing I learned in the MBA program was to trust myself. I went into the program very nervous, very unsure of my capabilities, and I learned throughout the process to trust myself,” Boyd said. “My experience with the program has been wonderful. I feel like my return has been self-confidence.”
Some people choose an EMBA because the academic environment gives them a safe space to gain fresh insights and put them into practice without a manager or boss breathing down their neck. For consultant Karin Ebbinhaus, the EMBA program at the Stockholm School of Economics gave her the opportunity to blend theory with real-world exercises.
“During the different courses, in-depth knowledge of theories and models was instantly applied in live projects in either my own or in other participants’ organizations. Going live with academic research contributed to an increased understanding of how a model or a new tool could or should be used,” Ebbinhaus says. “Numbers and figures that, for me, can be very abstract, became visual, actual and motivating … The practical projects which were part of each course gave a greater understanding of the different challenges that different industries and sectors face. Together with teachers and fellow participants, old problems were given new solutions where SSE interactively challenged current structures in light of digitalization and globalization.”
Every EMBA student will have to weigh the pros and cons of returning to the classroom. But recognizing one’s own career needs is an important first step in finding the right program and tailoring its curriculum for you.