Why I’m Getting An Executive MBA At Wharton

Ahh…The gold standard. The students at Wharton | San Francisco didn’t need to take Dr. Andrew Abel’s Macro class to know that it’s gone out of style with regards to how the U.S. or any other nation, for that matter, backs its currency.

But that doesn’t mean that actual gold… bars, coins, bracelets, even teeth… has lost its way in the world. Just ask T-Pain.

And the concept? Well, that speaks for itself. You see or hear those words and it means that something is the best. As Ferris Bueller would have said, “That’s choice.”

For me, Wharton has been the choicest choice I have ever made. Last Spring, I was offered admission and there was little choice. When you get in to Wharton, you go. Duh.

But what led to my choice, is more important. A year or so ago, I made the decision that I wanted to go to business school while still maintaining my career as a news producer. My husband works in the Bay Area and so I knew I was going to have to select from schools around me.

Lucky for me, I live in Silicon Valley. This Cal Bear gave Haas a hard look, and school rivalry didn’t keep from considering Stanford, which does not have an executive MBA program. Having grown up in the Bay Area, I have a deep respect for the University of Santa Clara which does have a MBA program that caters to working professionals.

But when push came to shove, I only applied to one: Wharton’s Executive MBA in San Francisco. It was the only place I wanted to go.

Why? Because these days, words like downturn, unemployment and uncertainty are as ubiquitous as the phrase “there’s no place like home” is in the “Wizard of Oz.” I’ve taken only six hours of marketing but, I know enough to understand that brand matters. Plain and simple.

And maintaining brand is about trust: Wharton established that tradition more than a hundred years ago, and for the last ten years, they’ve been doing it out west too.  And that means making sure their graduates know what they are doing when they get out.

Looking for a cushy place to get an MBA? Wharton | San Francisco is not your place. How about the real deal?

Professor Abel… he wrote the book with Bernanke.  Dr. Kent Smetters, who we had for Microeconomics in term two, he tries to infuse some wisdom into the skulls of our elected officials on Capitol Hill.   In a world where your grandmother will sell you an executive MBA, it’s important to know you are not just getting a degree, but earning an education from the best and the brightest. To be taught by this faculty is an honor, but man, do their exams kick my butt.

Setting my posterior aside, it’s the continued growth of the goods inside my cranium that is the guarantee at Wharton. As we were reminded by our accounting professor, Dr. Richard Lambert, at the conclusion of our course in term one: a Wharton education is a continued education. Lambert encouraged us to call him in the ensuing months and years with questions. Alumni can audit classes long after they have graduated.

MBAs are pricey. Getting to take a class on a concept that has yet to be conceived twenty years from now? Well, that’s priceless and, fortunately, not tied to the historically volatile market price of gold.

Lindsay Stewart is an MBA for Executives student at Wharton | San Francisco and a special projects producer for KPIX- TV. She graduated from UC-Berkeley with a BA in English in 2002 and has worked in the TV business ever since. Her previous posts on P&QforExecs:

A Third Of The Way Into Wharton’s San Francisco EMBA Program

  • guest

    Great post, and keep them coming. Wharton does seem to be the best around if you want the full time experience crammed into an executive format. I am pretty impressed with the program and hope to join you next year.

    • Enthusiast

      Wharton offers an oustanding MBA program for Executives and the author should rightly be proud of her achievment, selection, and decision to attend!
      However, speaking as an EMBA candidate at another top quality program – do not be misled by marketing – NO MBA program formatted for excecutives is equivalent in terms of the experience (I am not speaking of the academics) as a full time program period! Nor should they be obviously. We are talking about programs that serve two completely different segments of the market for an MBA degree. If one would like a full time program than one should attend a full time program. Wharton has been particularly brilliant (KUDOS to them) at conveying the equivalency message – and it is smart to do so. All top business schools (MIT, Columbia, Wharton, Cornell, Chicago Booth, Kellogg, Darden etc) ONLY grant One MBA degree – which may be earned in a few formats (depending on the School) including an executive format. They all require the same amount amount of classes/credits, and they ALL expect the same high quality of work and standards. Wharton has smartly carved out a niche of an important group of folks who do not quite fit the Full Time Profile but who still want an “equivalent” experience. It cannot be the same – no internship, no long term campus living aside from residential sessions, and students with full time jobs, spouses, kids etc…
      However, this does not mean that the education received is not equivalent – it certainly is and in my opinion may actually be superior, because you are learning from and with a cohort with “real” experience rather than folks 2-4 years out of undergrad with generally more limited excperience. It is simply a different experience – as it should be – education should be tailored to the needs of the demographic that is served. Wharton is a fantastic program that attracts top talent but to say that it is an equivalent or close to equivalent experience betrays the reality a bit…
      Good luck to everyone and to the author!

      • EMBA Student

        The Wharton EMBAs difference is that it holds its students to the same academic standards as the full time students: hence very similar entrance standards. I think this is what the admissions team means when they call it equivalent. This is absolutely not the case at all the other top-tier EMBAs, many of which have significant grade curving. I would caution throwing all of the schools you mentioned in a grouping together. Yes they provide an MBA, but some are really MBA-lite. I am not going to name names, since I go to one of these ‘others’ and I don’t want to get into a discussion of which are MBA-Lite and which aren’t. In reality, some are more like networking clubs than anything else. Applicants need to visit programs before selecting them. I visited a handful and was incredibly unimpressed with a couple, but Wharton was one of the impressive ones. I believe that Wharton tries to replicate the full-time experience in other ways, but we could argue whether or not they fully succeed in meeting this goal.

        To your comments on experience while in the program, I agree. No internship, not on campus for the long haul, etc.

        • Enthusiast

          Nice points. It is unfair of me to broadly judge or lump eMBA programs together unless real info or insight is offered – and so I will not. Many excellent programs are out there, including Wharton. People should investigate and judge for themselves. Thx!

  • slimjim

    But if you are 35, don’t you need a slightly different experience than when you are 25. The Wharton program isn’t a true executive MBA. Many of the students are junior and have shown limited career progression as opposed to MIT and Kellogg where the students are pretty accomplished. The Wharton program is more of a part-time program than an EMBA. This may be a pro/con depending on the person. I am familiar with the Wharton EMBA and the regular Wharton program, and while there are strong students in both, many of the students in the EMBA program would have never been accepted into Wharton’s full-time program nor would they be accepted into MIT/Kellogg (lack of career progression). These are mostly folks who score well on their GMAT and would be good candidates for a part-time program and don’t want to go to Santa Clara.

    • guest

      Wow, for someone “familiar with the Wharton EMBA” you certainly have no clue what you are talking about. Likely coming from someone who is a EMBA admit/student/alumni at MIT or Kellogg, since those are the schools you mentioned, and you are trying to bring the top school down rather then bring your own school up.

    • plutus

      Slimjim, interesting perspective, but I would have to disagree. As you well know, there are plenty of people that are accepted into one top school but not another. For example, some people will get into Standford and Wharton Full time but not HBS. However, if you look around on the forums, you will find that there is only one EMBA that is usually compared to the full time program and only one EMBA where applicants have seriously considered going over HBSs full-time program, and it is Wharton. I think that speaks volumes as to the quality of students Wharton’s EMBAs attracts.

      As to your career progression comment, I am not sure where you got your information. Yes, Wharton’s EMBA students are in their early 30s on average, where MIT and Kellogg are significantly older. However, Wharton has a huge range just as all the top EMBA programs do. Basically, this means that the bell curve is skewed a little left for Wharton and a little right for MIT and Kellogg. That being said, just because a younger person doesn’t have the same title as a person 10 years senior, this doesn’t mean they have less career progression. It just means that they are at a different part of their career.

      I recommend you take a closer look at the program. Personally, I have visited all of the programs you mentioned, and Wharton’s EMBA stood out amongst the rest. I am hoping to be admitted this May, and I wouldn’t turn it down for any other top EMBA.

  • Nice Post. MBA and EMBA having some Diffrence. when we done regular mba or executive mba, we face some diffrent challenges in the job market