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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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Veterans Day 2012: Thanks to Our EMBA Student and Alumni Veterans
November 11, 2012

We’d like to thank our Wharton executive MBA students and alumni who have served or are still serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. In honor of Veterans Day, we’ve highlighted a few of their stories in the links below.

Dan Pick & Lisa Nagorny

Ryan Nelson

Charles Pell

Stan Allen


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Wharton EMBA Students Use Independent Study to Help Veterans Transition to Civilian Life
June 13, 2012

When Lisa Nagorny separated from the U.S. Navy in 2008, she was juggling a move from Afghanistan to Washington, D.C., a job search, her wedding, and the purchase of a home. While all of those were DanandLisa_Wharton big transitions, the job search was particularly challenging.

She explains that as a ROTC student in college, she didn’t need to do an internship or job search or write a resume because she already had a set career path in the military. “But after I separated from the Navy, I soon realized that finding a job and transitioning to the workplace was going to mean a big commitment. I needed to find veterans who could mentor me through the process of translating my military experience into a more understandable resume and help me explore career options,” says Lisa, who is now an associate at Booz Allen Hamilton.

Continue reading "Wharton EMBA Students Use Independent Study to Help Veterans Transition to Civilian Life" »

Posted by ExecMBA in EMBA Academics , EMBA Faculty , EMBA Student Activities , Leadership , Military |Permalink |Comments (0)

Wharton | San Francisco Student Transitions from Flying Air Force Drones to Banking
April 18, 2012

Ryan Nelson always wanted to get an MBA as part of his normal career progression within the Air Force. An MBA seemed like a natural fit given the Air Force’s requirement for a graduate degree and his interest in business. However, due to extenuating circumstances, Nelson’s plans for business school became a top Ryan Nelson Photo Compressedpriority sooner than he expected.

After completing pilot training, he was working as a flight instructor when he learned that he needed to assume control of his late father’s real-estate development business. The Air Force was very supportive, allowing him to transfer to Las Vegas where he could fulfill his commitment to the Air Force and run the company in his free time. While Nelson enjoyed working in the business world, he found he was lacking the skills needed to be successful in running a business.

So he began evaluating MBA programs and found that Wharton offered an executive format. Even better was that its location in San Francisco only required a 1.5-hour flight every other weekend.

Continue reading "Wharton | San Francisco Student Transitions from Flying Air Force Drones to Banking" »

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Wharton’s Global Modular Course in Rwanda Focuses on Conflict Resolution and Leadership
February 7, 2012

Wharton’s EMBA program is known for having a global focus with its International Seminar; however the addition of global modular courses has taken this to a whole new level. Launched in 2010, the week-long  mini-courses offer students opportunities to learn about topics such as financial institutions in Abu Rwanda GMC Dhabi, supply chain management in Shanghai, innovation in India, and leadership and conflict resolution in Rwanda.

Having recently returned from the course in Rwanda, we asked EMBA students Marla Bleavins and Bill Williams to tell us about their experience. Here’s what Marla, a second-year student at Wharton | San Francisco who is a special projects manager for Los Angeles World Airports, had to say:

“Most Americans know about Rwanda because of the tragedy of genocide that happened there in 1994, but we aren’t as familiar with the progress the country has made since then. It’s the fastest growing economy in Africa and one of the safest and least corrupt countries on that continent so I was intrigued to learn more about it through this course, which was taught by Prof. Katherine Klein and called, ‘Leadership, Conflict, and Change.’

Continue reading "Wharton’s Global Modular Course in Rwanda Focuses on Conflict Resolution and Leadership" »

Posted by ExecMBA in EMBA Academics , EMBA Faculty , EMBA Program News , EMBA Student Activities , International Activities , Leadership , Military , Not-for-profit , Public Sector , Wharton l San Francisco , Wharton School News |Permalink |Comments (1)

Wharton EMBA Students Learn about History and Leadership at Gettysburg
November 30, 2011

B&WWhen Brian Davis, a first-year EMBA student, signed up for a six-hour tour of the Gettysburg battlefield, it wasn’t because he’s a history buff. Rather, the director of communications for Allegiant Travel Company in Las Vegas, NV saw it as an opportunity to learn more about leadership and spend the day with classmates.  

“I’m still in awe at the opportunity to be here at Wharton and it’s such a short window that I want to say yes to any opportunity to learn that fits into my schedule,” says Davis, who recently spent a class weekend in Philadelphia with his fellow first-year classmates from Wharton | San Francisco. The Gettysburg tour was an optional Leadership Development Workshop offered to students from both coasts.

Continue reading "Wharton EMBA Students Learn about History and Leadership at Gettysburg" »

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First-Year EMBA Classes are off and Running
July 15, 2011

Welcome to our newest students in Wharton’s EMBA Program! Both the East and West Coast classes are comprised of exceptional students from near and far.

At Wharton | San Francisco, most of the first-year class is based in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco area, however students are also commuting from Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Washington. The class of 96 students brings an average of 11 years of work experience to the program with nearly 50% holding advanced degrees.

Continue reading "First-Year EMBA Classes are off and Running" »

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From Sponsorship to Electives: Wharton MBA for Executives Webcast Covers it All
February 3, 2011

Registrants from 30 states and 14 countries joined us last week for our first-ever Webcast event.  During the interactive presentation, streamed live from Philadelphia and San Francisco, participants heard from administrators, faculty, students, and alumni.  It was a great opportunity to learn more about Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives.  If you missed it, it’s not too late. You can watch the replay.

The interactive presentation began with Vice Dean Anjani Jain providing an overview of our program.  He was joined by Wharton Professors David Bell, Peggy Bishop Lane, and Witold Henisz who shared their experiences teaching in our program.  Students and alumni on both coasts then discussed the benefits of the Wharton MBA degree and how they handled the challenge of working while they earned it.

Although we covered a lot of topics during the Webcast, you still might have questions. If so, please contact us at either our San Francisco or Philadelphia Office. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!


Posted by ExecMBA in Admissions Chats , Applicants , California , EMBA Academics , EMBA Alumni News , EMBA Faculty , EMBA Program News , EMBA Receptions , EMBA Student Activities , Executive MBA Admissions , Health Care , International Activities , Leadership , Military , Wharton l San Francisco , Wharton School News |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 

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First-Year Wharton | San Francisco Students Spend Class Weekend in Philadelphia
October 19, 2010

While the second-year Wharton EMBA students recently headed to China for their international seminar trips, first-year students had a unique weekend of their own when the Wharton | San Francisco students flew to Philadelphia to attend classes. The annual Philadelphia trip is a highlight of the program and a chance for first-year students on both coasts to meet each other and expand their networks.

The weekend’s activities kicked off with a speed networking event. First-year Wharton | San Francisco student Eric Sheng, who is operations general manager at Nvidia in Santa Clara, explains, “We got to request the background of the types of people we wanted to meet at that event. I spent most of my life on the West Coast so I was really interested to hear about industry issues from people on the East Coast,” he says. “It was kind of exhausting to condense all of that into five-minute conversations, but during the hour I got to meet 12 really interesting people.”

After that, there were plenty of other opportunities to network and bond at dinners and happy hours. Sheng says, “We even had a dance off between the two coasts and I’m happy to say that the West Coast won.  It was fun watching everyone break out of their shell and getting to know them in an informal setting.”

Sheng, who arrived on Tuesday and departed the following Monday, says that he also made sure to tour the campus and meet full-time MBA students as well. “There is a sense of belonging that you get from visiting the main campus. That weekend, there were plenty of student activities going on like a club expo and happy hours organized by the full-time MBA students so  I attended a couple of those and plan to build the bond with that group too.”

On his last day on the East Coast, Sheng also participated in a Leadership Trek for EMBA students to Gettysburg, led by Prof. Michael Useem.  “About 40 students from both coasts went on the trek and I got to know even more East Coast students as well as participate in great discussions about leadership,” he says.

First-year East Coast EMBA student Jennifer McGrew, vice president of Brandywine Global Investment Management in Philadelphia and the social coordinator for her class, helped organize many of the social events for the weekend. She says, “Beforehand, I got in touch with my counterpart on the West Coast to talk about what we could do to keep students engaged with more social activities.  On Friday, we had a school-sponsored event and then we continued networking at a happy hour.  Starting with the speed networking event all the way through to the Gettysburg Trek, the whole weekend was filled with opportunities to get to know each other.”

McGrew adds, “The program is like a three-legged stool with academics, career progression, and the network.  The relationships you build in the program will last a lifetime and the weekend was a great time to make more of those connections. It really adds to the overall experience to build this amazing network of really interesting people who work in all kinds of different industries and locations.”

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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.”

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