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Welcome to the blog for the Wharton MBA Program for Executives! Postings to the blog features stories of the student experience, alumni accomplishments, and insights into the admissions process.

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Wharton EMBA Career Management Helps Students Grow in their Careers
October 27, 2011

Wharton Executive MBA students have a lot on their plate with school, work and personal obligations.  So why do they need MBA Exec Career Management Services?

“Everyone can benefit from learning how to manage their career over the course of their lifetime,” says Mary Gross, director of MBA Exec Career Management for Wharton’s East Coast program.  “Students may have a great job now, but they want to continue to grow in their career, so we help them learn to identify next steps and the actions they need to take to get there.”

Steve Hernandez, director of MBA Exec Career Management at Wharton | San Francisco agrees, describing their role as career coaches.  “Career management is not just about moving up the ladder or changing jobs, but rather the ability to determine goals whatever those may be and then to go after them.”

Continue reading "Wharton EMBA Career Management Helps Students Grow in their Careers" »

Posted by ExecMBA in Career Services , EMBA Program News , Wharton l San Francisco |Permalink |Comments (0)

Wharton | San Francisco Welcomes New Associate Director of Career Management Services
March 9, 2011

In January, Steve Hernandez joined Wharton | San Francisco as associate director of Career Management Services.  Now that he’s had some time to settle in, we asked him about his role at Wharton as well as what he has planned for our students. Here’s what he had to say:

Continue reading "Wharton | San Francisco Welcomes New Associate Director of Career Management Services" »

Posted by ExecMBA in California , Career Services , EMBA Receptions , Wharton l San Francisco |Permalink |Comments (0)

Wharton Executive MBA Program Helps Alumnus Turn Loss of Company into “Sweet” Opportunity
December 8, 2010

When Emir Kiamilev entered Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives at Wharton | San Francisco in 2005, he was running a successful tea company in Uzbekistan with yearly revenue of $7 million.  His goal was to learn how to successfully expand the company into other regions not only to grow the business, but also to mitigate the risks of political instability in Uzbekistan.

At first, everything was going according to plan. He based his family in San Diego where his parents lived and commuted to Uzbekistan once a quarter to apply the knowledge he learned in school.  He even used the tea business as the subject of a consulting project in one of his classes.

But in his second year, the worst case scenario happened – he lost the company due to political instability.  “In those countries, it’s hard to finance anything so it was a cash-based business in which we reinvested all profits.  I was married with three kids, but had no income and we were really down to nothing.  I got loans for school, but our whole lifestyle changed overnight.”

The “up side” at the time, he says, was the fact that he was in school and could access Wharton’s extensive network and dedicated career management resources.    After meeting representatives from Mattel, Inc., he was offered a position as a finance manager.  “I was excited because I wanted to come into a consumer products company and learn how Fortune 500 companies do business in corporate America,” says Kiamilev.

Kiamilev and his wife shared an entrepreneurial spirit and also wanted to start up a business.  Attending several gourmet food shows, they decided their market niche would be in confectionaries so they took online classes on topics such as how to make chocolate and even flew to Paris for lessons from a high-end chocolatier.

Ultimately, they decided to focus on caramels and in 2009, with $50,000 from friends and family, they launched Amella.  Their artisan cocoa butter caramels are now in more than 200 stores and high-end hotels and the couple hopes to break even by the end of 2010.

Kiamilev says, “It would have been much harder to start over without my Wharton education.  I’ve seen other friends go through similar situations and they could not recover.  But because of Wharton, I have the tools, knowledge and network to one day be bigger than I was in Uzbekistan.  The executive MBA program opened a lot of doors and is helping me be a better businessman.”


Posted by ExecMBA in California , Career Services , Diversity , EMBA Academics , EMBA Alumni News , EMBA Student Activities , Entrepreneurship , Financing the Program , International Activities , Wharton l San Francisco |Permalink |Comments (0)

Wharton EMBA Program Helps Alumnus Transition from Technology to the Federal Government
November 10, 2010

Attorney Andrew Jackson was working as a senior counsel at Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto, CA when he first started looking into executive MBA programs.  With a goal of stepping into a senior management position in the future, he felt that earning an MBA would be the best way to develop the necessary business skills for that type of role.

Jackson was particularly interested in Wharton’s EMBA Program and even considered flying every other weekend to Philadelphia, as Wharton | San Francisco had not yet launched.  Fortunately, the timing worked out and by the time he was ready to apply, Wharton | San Francisco was open and he was accepted into the West Coast program with sponsorship from HP.

In addition to the location, another consideration for Jackson was what the school’s environment would be like for him as an openly gay student. “I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but I hoped it wouldn’t be an issue since I would be with a more mature group of classmates,” he says.

Once he arrived, Jackson was pleased to find a “welcoming” environment. “I brought my partner to all of the events to which partners were invited and it was never an issue.  We did have a funny moment at a welcoming reception before school began where I introduced my partner to a fellow student and he asked what business we were in, but that was just confusion rather than intolerance.  I never felt any hostility and it certainly didn’t affect my ability to form meaningful relationships with my classmates.”

In fact, Jackson says that getting to know his classmates was one of the best parts of the program. “We were assigned study groups, but I would have picked each of those people out myself if I had been given a choice,” he says. “We really leaned on each other a lot in the program and still keep in touch.  And I met many folks in the program who have become significant professional contacts.  The relationships I made at Wharton have exceeded my expectations in every way.”

After he graduated in 2003, Jackson spent several years working his way up to more senior positions in HP’s legal department, focusing on an aggressive IT consolidation program that shaved 20% off of infrastructure costs and moved the company from more than 80 data centers down to five.  His work at HP brought him to the attention of a contact working in the U.S. Department of the Interior, which under the new administration had assessed its challenges and was looking for someone with Jackson’s background and consolidation skills.

“I was offered the job of deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of the Interior and as much as I liked working at HP, it was a position I couldn’t turn down,” says Jackson, who was officially appointed to the new role in July of 2009. Some of the bigger pieces of what I do now include working on strategy for a $1 billion IT portfolio and overseeing the restructuring of the National Business Center, which is a shared services provider for the department and federal agencies.  That group processes 300,000 paychecks every two weeks among many other things,” he says.

Jackson says that while the knowledge he gained in Wharton’s exec MBA Program was very valuable to him at HP, it is “100% applicable” every day at the U.S. Department of the Interior. He explains, “Everything I do is about making a business case for the changes I’m trying to drive through the department.  I’m not coming in with a political agenda so much as an effectiveness agenda.  I think about what I learned in my strategy and leadership classes all the time even though it’s been almost 10 years.”

He adds, “I absolutely love what I’m doing now.  It’s been incredibly rewarding, but I know that without my Wharton education I wouldn’t be here today.  The ROI for me on the degree is incalculable in a very positive way.”

Posted by ExecMBA in California , Career Services , Diversity , EMBA Alumni News , JD / Law Degree , Public Sector , Wharton l San Francisco |Permalink |Comments (0)

Wharton EMBA Program Helps Navy Officer Transition to Corporate World
November 2, 2010

After almost a decade in the U.S. Navy, Lieutenant Charles Pell was starting to consider other career options besides the military. However, leaving active duty and then spending two years back in school full time to transition to the corporate world wasn’t that appealing. He didn’t want to put his life in California on hold in order to find a new career.

Instead, Pell, who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and was familiar with Wharton -- and knew other officers who had attended Wharton’s executive MBA program -- decided to apply to that program at Wharton | San Francisco.

“I had absolutely no idea what area I wanted to work in after I left the Navy and knew that Wharton would provide me with exposure to a lot of different industries. And the other officers who had gone through the program said they got a tremendous amount out of the program,” he says, noting that he continued to serve as a naval flight officer while attending Wharton.

During the program, Pell leveraged the experience of his classmates to learn about their industries and roles. “It was really helpful to talk things out with my classmates and ask them for advice on career options. They had so many different experiences that I didn’t have because I had been in the Navy and that is in many ways a different world,” he says.

But just as he was really getting into the job search mode, Pell was unexpectedly called to serve in Afghanistan for six months where he coordinated air travel around the country for high-ranking U.S. and Afghan officials.

“Resuming at Wharton six months later wasn’t that disruptive relative to the overall disruption in my life. But it did throw off my career search because the plans I had made for job hunting were tossed around,” says Pell, who ended up graduating with the class of 2008 instead of 2007 as originally planned.

His first job after school was in investment banking, but he quickly discovered that he wasn’t on the right career path for him. So he left to work at a small, early-stage startup. “That was when having my Wharton classmates with real world experience in technology and entrepreneurship was really helpful because I could talk to them about the challenges and issues. And I realized exactly how much I learned at Wharton because I was filling all sorts of roles at that startup and was required to think about the business much more broadly than might have been necessary at other companies,” he recalls.

After more than a year at the startup, he turned to his classmates again for career guidance. “As I described the company’s strategy as well as my role within the organization, my classmates helped me clarify that it was time to leave,” says Pell, who last year joined, an enterprise cloud computing company, as a manager in the marketing operations and analytics group in San Francisco.

“I’m really applying the knowledge I gained at Wharton on a daily basis, particularly with the quantitative analyses that I provide. It is a work environment where it’s important to have a broader perspective. I need to be able to take a broadly defined problem, identify the business metrics I can bring to bear, perform the analysis, and present my conclusion in a coherent and succinct way to my business partners. Refining all of that is based on what I learned at Wharton,” he says.

Looking back over the past few years, Pell attributes his ability to transition out of the military and find a career that is a good fit for him to his Wharton education. He says, “If I hadn’t gone to Wharton, I probably would have stayed in the defense industry or a government contracting role. Wharton built on the foundation of leadership skills I learned in the Navy, and gave me the confidence and skill set to enter new industries and work at a higher level than I would have been able to otherwise. My Wharton education has definitely opened doors that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.”

Pell and son 

Posted by ExecMBA in California , Career Services , Diversity , EMBA Academics , EMBA Alumni News , Military , Public Sector , Wharton l San Francisco |Permalink |Comments (0)

From the Air Force to Consulting: Wharton MBA Exec Alumnus Transitions to Business Role
October 5, 2010

After years as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, Stan Allen was looking to transition into the business world. However, he didn’t have a specific type of position in mind nor did he have a sense of what jobs were available. To make it even more challenging, the feedback he got from headhunters was that the airlines were hiring “like crazy” for pilots, which wasn’t particularly helpful advice for finding a management position.

Although he did end up working for an airline as a pilot, he quickly realized that he was not on the right career path. To correct his course, Stan decided that he needed an MBA degree, but it couldn’t be from just any school. He’d seen too many other pilots fail in similar efforts to reposition themselves. Instead, he focused his efforts on applying to Wharton’s MBA for Executives Program in San Francisco.

Stan explains, “I knew I needed to signal prospective employers that I was diligent about starting over and to be seen as something more than just a pilot. I selected Wharton because of its brand and capability to transcend my resume and communicate to those employers that I was capable of doing something rigorous and different.”

After being accepted to the program, he began commuting from the Seattle area to Wharton | San Francisco while working full-time for the airline, part-time for the Air Force, and doing some property management on the side. “It was a big challenge to balance all of that and keep up with people 10 years younger than me,” he recalls. “But accomplishing all of those things was also part of the reward because it required a lot of teamwork and collaboration with classmates.”

And it was those classmates who ultimately helped Stan to define his career interests and goals. “I specifically wanted an executive MBA program because I wanted to sample what other successful people did for a living and figure out where I would fit in. My classmates were emphatic that I should consider consulting and they were instrumental in helping me prepare for interviews,” he says.

After going through Wharton’s on-campus recruiting in Philadelphia, he was offered a job as a consultant with Accenture. “I’m confident that the transition to consulting would not have been possible without the Wharton education and reputation. I’d probably still be trying to make a transition from pilot to the business ranks and am confident I would not be where I am today - and that’s certainly true in light of the current economic situation.”

Since graduating in 2009, Stan says that he’s enjoyed the variety that comes with being a consultant. “It’s an environment where you rapidly learn about the interactions of different business functions and industries in a short amount of time. It’s actually similar to business school where collaboration is key and you have a focused team working on issues and projects rather than just the day-to-day transactional grind.”

Stan adds, “I’d definitely recommend Wharton’s MBA for Executives Program for others in the military trying to make a similar transition. Military officers bring to the curriculum a familiarity with leadership and a willingness to take risks; there they are joined with students from commercial enterprises who bring strong expertise in business functions. Wharton’s EMBA program is designed to create an executive mindset with the broad expertise to take appropriate risks to grow and develop a business. For military officers, the opportunity to learn from a prestigious faculty while merging with that business element is a great combination.”

Posted by ExecMBA in California , Career Services , Diversity , EMBA Alumni News , Military , Public Sector , Wharton l San Francisco |Permalink |Comments (0)

A Life-Long Resource: Online Chat Highlights Benefits of Wharton’s EMBA Career Management Services
March 23, 2010

Who is eligible to use the career management services in Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives? Can we help students find a new job? Is this the right program for more experienced professionals looking to transition into a new industry? What services are available to alumni?

Those were just a few of the questions discussed at a recent online chat/call with Mary Gross, who is Director of  Career Management Services for Wharton’s EMBA Program  in Philadelphia as well as a graduate of the program.  She began the talk by explaining that many resources are available to all Wharton Executive MBA students such as those related to résumé development and networking skills. However, services pertaining to job searches are limited to students who are not financially sponsored by their organization or, if they receive more than standard tuition support, have permission from their sponsor to participate.

Wharton EMBA students have access to their own dedicated career management services director at both the Philadelphia campus and Wharton | San Francisco. While students on each coast are offered the same resources, some career-related events are targeted to the specific interests of the student populations at each location, she said.

Gross also emphasized that Wharton MBA Exec career management services are not a job placement service. “It isn’t just about finding the next job or promotion, but helping students to manage their careers. The most successful students realize that this is a partnership and that they need to actively participate in the process,” she said. “It takes effort on the students’ part in revising their résumés, networking, and searching through our alumni database to identify people they want to connect with. “

For example, Gross recalled how a recent student came to her for assistance in breaking into the private equity industry. “I made some connections for him and he followed up doing informational interviews and asking those people for additional introductions. He ended up leaving a job with a major pharmaceutical company to take a one-year consulting position at a VC firm, which he found through networking,” she said, noting that the he ended up staying at that firm and is now in a senior leadership role with one of their portfolio companies.

However, Gross cautioned that the time demands and rigor of Wharton’s MBA Exec program make it difficult for most students in the program to transition into a new career. “Depending on the industry you want to go into, the likely track for that is usually through a full-time program that provides opportunities for a summer internship to get experience in the new area,” she said.

The Executive MBA program also is not an ideal fit for students looking to go through the traditional MBA recruiting process. She explained that most of the positions available through that process are appropriate for people with three to five years of experience and are entry level post-MBA positions. “Since most of our MBA Exec students are further along in their careers and are not interested in those positions, I try instead to create connections that will lead to more senior level positions through alumni, job boards, and other corporate contacts,” said Gross.

She added that one of the most valuable career resources for Wharton EMBA students is the School’s alumni network of more than 85,000 graduates. “Across the board, we can find someone who is a good connection within our alumni network and then it’s up to the student to apply what they’ve learned in networking workshops,” she said, noting that alumni living abroad tend to be very helpful contacts for students interested in working in other countries.

As for when students should utilize the career management resources available, Gross says that she works with students at whatever point in the program they have a need and interest. “I have students graduating in May who are just now saying that they are making time to think about this and want to meet. And there are other students, maybe because of a tenuous job situation, who wanted to meet soon after they began the program.” Regardless of when and how students choose to use the resources available, alumni continue to have access to career services through Wharton for life.

Learn more about Wharton’s Executive MBA Career Management Services.

Posted by ExecMBA in Admissions Chats , Career Services , EMBA Program News |Permalink |Comments (0)