Degree earned: Professional Online MBA
Current title/organization: HR Business Partner/Novant Health
Why did you choose the NC State Jenkins MBA program for your graduate education?
My desire for an advanced degree started in 2012. Having been in HR for my entire career, I felt the need for something more to be more relevant to my organization and the HR function. After exploring several options for MBA and other advanced degrees, I landed on the NC State Jenkins MBA program because of the flexibility and relevancy of the online program. Working full time, in addition to being a wife and mom to two school-aged active kids, I needed to be able to complete the course work at a pace that allowed room for life. The curriculum included the business topics that I wanted to know more about and that would help grow and stretch how I could perform in my current role and beyond. It was also a plus in my book when I learned the online platform still allowed for collaboration and interaction with peers in the program as well as ability to complete course work when and where it was convenient for me, within the deadlines. The program also allowed opportunities to take Saturday classes on campus which enabled in-person interactive classes. I also found the NC State Jenkins MBA program to be very reasonable in cost.
How did your experience in the program contribute to your professional achievements and successes?
With the program’s focus on business and business strategy, I was immediately able to show up in a new way in my role by helping develop strategic workforce plans for two systemwide areas. The critical piece to strategic workforce planning is determining the strategy and the learnings from the Jenkins MBA program prepared me just in time to lead senior leadership in developing the strategies. It was a noticeable difference I was able to make having been through much of the coursework prior to launching the strategy work.
The program also gave me confidence in working at a higher level than before. I was able to show up at the table with a voice that I had not done fully prior to the program.
What did you enjoy most about your time in the Jenkins MBA program?
To be very honest, I loved the program and learning involved, however the “jewel” for me was the network of other MBAs in the program that developed over time, including an informal cohort that was formed with a few others. While we collaborated on course work, we also held each other accountable and pushed and pulled on each other to do our best. Though most of us have graduated, we still occasionally check in and keep up with one another. I also still network with several peers from the program, be it to continue learning or to encourage each other along our personal and professional journeys.
What do you miss most now that you have graduated?
I do miss the learning, and the different thoughts posed by the faculty as well as the coursework. It was quite bitter sweet to graduate! I keep up with the latest news and events as well as continue reading business material, such as Harvard Business Review and others to keep on top of new trends and information. While I enjoy having time back with my family, I do miss the coursework and collaborating with my informal cohort on a routine basis!
What are a few of the most impactful classes/lessons you learned during your time at NC State?
There was so much to narrow down to a few is difficult, here’s a few that come to mind:
– the Business strategy and entrepreneurship class was absolutely invaluable to me. Learning about strategy and organizations, especially adding value to organizations, made a huge impact on how I show up in my role.
– not having any business background, the marketing class opened up my eyes as to what marketing really was and how important the customer/consumer is to a business – and how to think about what customers want/need in a way that help grow the business. I had always thought that if we had something good, it was marketing’s job to make people want what we have – not the opposite – and the application of figuring out consumer’s needs/wants can apply internally (within an organization) as well.
– While my career has been in HR, I was “homegrown” never had any formal HR education, so it was a treat to dive into a People Management and organizational development class. It planted some thoughts and seeds in how I perform my role, but also helped me lead my HR team in some thoughts on how we could make a difference.
– One particularly memorable class was the Spring Break study abroad class on International Negotiation in Paris. I learned a lot about negotiations and the interactive simulations were fun – especially since it involved many foreign students. It gave great perspective as to how different cultures will show up differently and real time experience in negotiating with them. That was also my first trip out of the country, an excellent experience!
What are your lasting impressions of the Jenkins MBA program?
This is a top notch program. It covers very well many different topics relevant to business and allows you to take deeper dives into some areas. It was flexible and very interactive as an on-line program that truly made a difference for me! The program also gave opportunity to interact with real firms looking for answers, giving students a view inside of firms and seeing how the coursework lends to the firm’s questions and how the material is applicable in business.
What advice do you have for prospective Jenkins MBA students?
This program should not be overlooked! For the flexibility and relevancy, I could not find another program out there that offers what Jenkins MBA offers. If you like to collaborate and interact with others, this is definitely the program for you – there was plenty of individual work, but there was also great opportunity to work with others which is much of how business gets done – and it also allows for networking. The faculty comes with relevant background and experience related to the classes they lead, I found them to be excellent, very engaging and inspiring! While some classes had recorded lectures (since it’s online and you complete it when it’s convenient for you – within a set time period), the faculty still interacted with you in real time by email, Google Hangout or, if you are nearby campus, in person. A couple of professors even worked to hold a live class session at a time that worked for most students. Jenkins MBA Program also works to enable collaboration and networking by requiring two on-site residencies – at the time I attended there was just one. While it was a three day on-site event, it was awesome to interact with others during that time – that is exactly what enabled networking the most – I still remember many of the people from residency four years ago! The program also practices what they teach, they take in feedback from their students (consumers) and continually make improvements to the program and course offerings.
Could you give a brief explanation of your current line of work, and what has led you to it?
I am currently an HR Business Partner, working with senior leadership within my organization on strategic workforce plans and focusing on talent management to ensure we attract and retain top talent. When this role first emerged in late 2010, it was more a point of contact for HR for leadership – as the role evolved into truly being a business partner, I realized quickly that my weakness was not having background/experience in business in general – I knew how my organization handled things, but didn’t know the why behind it. This is why the Jenkins MBA program was so impactful to me.
What are your goals and plans for the future?
I want to continue growing, learning and leading teams, while I don’t have a specific role or title in mind, I want to be seen as top talent ready for what ever comes up to deliver on the strategy of my organization.