2017 Best EMBAs: Courtney Metzger, Purdue University (Krannert)

Courtney Metzger

Purdue University, Krannert School of Management

“I am focused and driven, and enjoy being surrounded by others who love to learn.”

Age: 37

Hometown: Newburgh, Indiana

Family Members: Husband: Heath Metzger Parents: Michael and Carmen Heim; Brothers: Austin (Chrissy, Ethan and Luke) Heim and Dr. Jordan Heim, both Purdue graduates.

Fun fact about yourself: After high school, I went to college and pursued a career in commercial photography. I worked as a designer, photographer, post-production manager and also worked free-lance for several local magazines. At the age of 29, I changed careers and went back to school as a working professional. I completed a Bachelor’s Degree in management, and then began the EMBA program less than a year later.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Associate’s: Associate of Arts (AA); Commercial and Advertising Art – Ohio Institute of Photography

Bachelor’s: Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.); Management – Oakland City University

Where are you currently working? Kenergy Corp; Manager of Procurement and Contracts.  Kenergy is an electric cooperative serving 14 counties in northwestern Kentucky and is headquartered in Henderson, Kentucky.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: In my free time, I serve in the role of CEO for a properties LLC, CFO to a holdings firm, and I consult pro bono for several local businesses.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I considered waiting to begin the program because months before it started, I was injured in a major accident. Near the onset, my injuries were still being realized. The neurosurgeon, whose treatment I was under, believed surgery might be necessary.  Thus, I am most excited about finishing our first module (14 credit hours) while also working 40+ hours a week and recovering, which included enduring physical therapy throughout the module.

This time was by far that most challenging time of my life. I could not imagine getting through it at the time, and looking back I am still amazed I was able to balance it all. It was only possible with the help of my cohort, family, friends, co-workers and my doctors.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2013, a colleague and I were recruited to centralize the procurement and supply chain activities of our cooperative, and to create a stand-alone department that reports directly to our CEO. Over the course of 7 months, we developed standards, processes and policy and we rolled out the department in late 2013.

Our team has endured significant change and, even so, has had many successes. We are fully engaged in identifying potential efficiencies and improvements in processes. Further, in 2016 alone, I was able to document over $300K in savings (of which $250K is reoccurring) for projects I have led. Each of our team members have similar success stories.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr. Ron Lazer: He has a true gift in his ability to teach. He used vigorous learning tools which were effective at forcing the basics of accounting. This helped the cohort to quickly gain a firm foundation and to be able to discuss the topic at a high level. Beyond his talents, Dr. Lazer is extremely passionate in the classroom. He made what some would consider a drab subject the highlight of our module.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? The format was right for me. I did not want to pursue a program only offered online, as networking was important to me. Additionally, due to my geographic location, traveling every weekend would have been a major challenge.

Other factors that rated high during my evaluation were Purdue’s reputation and the quality of the professors the program offered.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I enjoyed getting to know the members of my cohort the most. Our group had an almost instantaneous connection. In both the class setting, during virtual meetings and even during the long hours we shared in breakout rooms, they taught me a lot from their own experience.  They also helped me find and work on some of my growth edges. Through this program, I have made life-long friends. I feel extremely fortunate to have learned from such an accomplished group.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? Life does not slow down for you when you are in an EMBA program.  Unfortunately, in 2015, my younger brother was involved in a severe accident and needed some support while recovering at home. He was released from the hospital a day before Thanksgiving, which also happened to be the week before our module one finals. I was fortunate my husband was able to join me and he and I traveled to my brother’s home. I spent several days on his couch studying for finals while he slept. The three of us had a take-out Thanksgiving meal, one of the first meals my brother ate since the accident. It was a stressful time, but since he has significantly recovered, it will always be a fond memory for me.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s executive MBA program? Know and be able to communicate the value proposition you will bring to the program. The interview is a great opportunity to sell those things that differentiate you. It is a platform for you to show the interviewers the diversity in skills and life experience you will bring to a group.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school?  Many people believe they cannot go back to school because they do not have the time. The reality is you have to make the time.  We all make choices every day about priorities. In choosing to pursue your EMBA, you will have to go sleepless, miss out on family events, skip the gym, miss holidays, etc. Your loved ones will suffer the most and that truly is the hardest part. However, if you and your family can keep your focus on the future, you will all benefit from the personal sacrifice.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? There are several I truly admire, but there is one that stands out for his abilities, humbleness, patience, emotional intelligence, integrity, leadership skills and work ethic. The colleague I am referring to is Mike Flatt.

Mike’s leadership style instantly resonated with me. He personifies some of the soft skills I needed to work on to grow as a professional. Through example, Mike has shown me that one of my growth edges is that I needed to slow down, tone down and create a space for group consensus — especially for those that are not the loudest voices in the room. Mike has a very bright future ahead of him and I am thankful he is my colleague and my friend.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…a mentor of mine spoke passionately about the possibilities an Executive MBA would offer.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…less prepared to chase my dreams.”

What is your favorite company and what are they doing that makes them so special? At the moment, I think I am most interested in Zappos. The company worked to develop an extraordinary corporate culture early on and has been successful in preserving it, even after being acquired by Amazon in 2009. Additionally, in 2014, CEO Tony Hsieh implemented Holacracy. Essentially he flattened the organization. The new structure is supposed to encourage ownership at all levels and reduce micromanagement within the company.

I admire the leadership at Zappos as they have utilized employee empowerment and team spirit to create a customer-centric experience. The success is more significant as there is never the opportunity for true face-to-face time with the customer.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Finishing this EMBA is hopefully a step towards eventually serving as a CEO within our cooperative network. I see a lot of opportunity for our distribution cooperatives as our industry is changing drastically. I am truly excited and energized to be a part of that future.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? First, I would like to thank my amazing husband, Heath. He is the CEO of a third-generation family business. For the past 18 months, he has had remarkable success in the business, all the while only having about 10% of a partner at home. He was my rock throughout the program. His support was the reason I was able to make it through.

Next, my parents who always encouraged me to pursue any interest I have and to seek out education. They have worked hard for everything they have. They also supported me through my first degree which allowed me to start my working life with no student loans. What a gift!

Finally, my boss; he was instrumental in my success. He was supportive from the beginning, encouraged me when I needed it, and helped me to prioritize the work, school and life mix.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope my peers see me as someone who has vision, is willing to put the work in and is dependable.

Favorite book: I have been in school for the last 7 years, thus I haven’t read much more than textbooks. However, I have always enjoyed the works of Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Dave Eggers and David Sedaris.

Favorite movie or television show: House of Cards

Favorite musical performer: Mock Orange

Favorite vacation spot: Kyoto, Japan

Hobbies? Traveling, home brewing, hiking, skiing, home restoration and education.

What made Courtney such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Throughout her life, Courtney Metzger has been a fighter. That is also the characteristic that defined her time in the Purdue EMBA program. This characteristic is surprising, since Courtney comes across as a calm person with a perpetual smile on her face.

Just before the start of the program, Courtney experienced a significant health issue. She had the choice of delaying the program start for a year or just powering through the challenges of recovery and studies. She took the more difficult road, as she knew each delay towards completion of an EMBA would be a delay to her career and life goals. This same determination carried her forward when her brother, with whom she is close, also experienced significant health issues at the end of the first module.

Courtney’s background of photography education and working in a small not-for-profit co-op is not the typical resume of an EMBA student. However, her desire to learn and be the best she can be resulted in her being on the Dean’s list for all the program modules and being the cohort valedictorian. This accomplishment was even more impressive as she had a fierce, but friendly, academic rivalry with one of her cohort members. Even within and outside the rivalry, she was always willing to help others in the program to achieve their best.

Toward the end of a program, any program, there is a temptation to do less. With our last module in South America (Brazil and Chile), there are many tropical temptations to do less. Here also, Courtney continued to give 100% in her course work. Yet, she also found time to enjoy the different surroundings. Be it the Capoeira class in Rio de Janeiro to hiking up the many long, steep streets of Valparaiso (Chile), she was always curious what was beyond the crest or around the next corner.

Courtney could have found many a valid excuse to not start the program or to drop from the program once she started. Her determination and fighting spirit kept her engaged and helped inspire others to do their best as well. In that, she is a model for EMBA students across the globe.”

Dr. Aldas Kriauciunas
Executive Director
Krannert Executive Education Programs
Purdue University