2019 Best EMBAs: Lisa M. Wesolek, Ohio State (Fisher)

Lisa M. Wesolek

The Ohio State University, Fisher College of Business

“A woman proud of who she is, aspiring to use her creativity toward tomorrow.”

Age: 55

Hometown: Bexley, Ohio

Family Members: Husband Kurt, Daughter Alexandra, Son Nicholas

Fun fact about yourself: I have a fear of heights. To overcome this fear, I have tackled hang gliding, sky diving, and soared across the skies in a hot air balloon. I still have the fear, so I will keep up the pursuit.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Franklin University, BS Finance

Where are you currently working? Most recently, I was Chief Operating Officer at Diamond Hill Capital Management, a $20 Billion investment management firm. Prior to this position, I held senior leadership roles with JPMorgan Asset Management and Well Fargo Funds Group. After 35 years in the investment industry, I feel it is time to take my experience in a new direction.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Wife and mother of a son and daughter. Volunteer activities include:

  • Consulting with hearing-impaired individuals and families who are considering cochlear implant devices.
  • Supporting Multiple Sclerosis research through donations and clinical trials at The Ohio State University.
  • Participating in fundraising activities such as 5k walks to support Alzheimer’s research.
  • Providing supplies and filling basic needs for victims of human trafficking through Soul Sisters, a faith-based organization.
  • Delivering meals to underserved areas through Meals on Wheels.
  • Engaging in activities to support Junior Achievement, Boys and Girls Club, and Children’s Hospital.

Leadership roles in my career:

  • Chief Operating Officer for Diamond Hill Capital Management
  • Senior Vice President for Wells Fargo Funds Management Group
  • Managing Director, Head of Institutional for Evergreen Investments
  • Managing Director and Head of the West Region for JPMorgan Asset Management
  • Managing Director and Head of Public Sector/Taft Hartley for BancOne Investment Advisors
  • Team Leader, Player-coach, BancOne Investment Advisors

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my academic success in the EMBA program. As an undergraduate student, I was unprepared for the rigors of college and a job to pay my own way. I was not an exceptional student.

Through this program, I was able to manage a busy family, a challenging career, and a demanding academic program which required discipline and gave me the self-confidence that I never knew I had.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am proud of the opportunity to lead, build, and mentor great leaders. The most important aspect of my role was to provide opportunity and develop talented individuals.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Jay Dial was my favorite EMBA professor. The leadership class led by Jay was different from any other leadership course because it had an introspective approach. Reflecting on ourselves and how others perceive us was enlightening. We participated in tough exercises, finding out that we are not exactly who we thought we were and the reasons why.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Entrepreneurial Finance was my favorite course. The biggest insight that I gained was the importance of valuing failure.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I researched many EMBA programs. After reviewing the faculty biographies, I was impressed with the qualifications of the professors. The International experience coupled with the small size of the cohort was the perfect fit for me.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I enjoyed the entire experience of business school. We had two trips, one domestic and one international, that were outstanding. Both experiences pulled together the course stream. I thoroughly enjoyed the cohort and professors.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? My biggest lesson I learned is that it is okay to fail. I applied this at work by encouraging my team members to take more risks, be more curious, and not worry about the “what-ifs” of failure.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? Very early in my EMBA experience, I became ill and was hospitalized in the ICU for nine days with a very long recuperation period. I contemplated delaying my EMBA program, as I was not certain that I would be able to handle everything. The administration and professors, as well as my cohort,  were incredible. Supported by my family and the leadership team at my company, I was able to stay enrolled in the program. While my family was certainly a huge part of my recuperation, my EMBA family has no idea how big of a role they played.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Do it! If you have the opportunity to participate in an EMBA, it will be life changing – life-enhancing. The short-term challenges of managing your schedule, commitments, and family are worth the sacrifice.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? The biggest myth was that I had been away from school for too long. I had the maturity and discipline to balance my career, studies, and family.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret was that I did not do this earlier.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? There were several members of the cohort who had served in the military and were pursuing their MBAs. Each had experienced major combat during their service to our country. I admire each one of them for their sacrifice and continued motivation to better themselves.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I knew I wanted to go to business school when I was in my early twenties. I couldn’t afford it then, so it has been a continual desire of mine.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate long-term professional goal is to provide my team members with the knowledge and skills that are necessary to help them become independent, curious, and creative thinkers.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like for my peers to remember me for my positive and grateful attitude.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • to have a positive impact on others
  • to always be curious and on a learning journey

What made Lisa such an invaluable addition to the class of 2019?

I believe Lisa’s character, professionalism, and hard work made her an invaluable addition to the class of 2019. Lisa was a very giving student and was admired by her classmates for her ability to successfully balance school, work, and most importantly to many, her life. Lisa, held a very high position in her company but never promoted herself as anything but a student member of her EMBA cohort. It was weeks before her cohort learned of her professional accomplishments as an executive on Wall Street.  Specific quotes from classmates include:

“Lisa, was always very insightful, Level, and a voice of reason and understanding in our class.”

“Lisa has a positive attitude and is a great leader. She is courteous to all and brings a real-world perspective to all of the discussions. In approaching business as a leader, her perspective is always centered around what’s right for the business. Hearing how Lisa approached decisions helped me shift my thinking from what’s best for me to what’s best for everyone.”

I would characterize Lisa as a student with an engaging style; who is warm and approachable and has an energizing influence on her team and cohort. Lisa further stands out in my mind because of the circumstances in which she completed her EMBA. Early on, she was hospitalized with a life-threatening illness. From an administrative perspective, we offered and we’re sure she would defer her studies to the following year. We certainly did not know Lisa. Lisa never broke stride during her recovery or in her studies.  She was available for all group projects, excelled in academics, and became an example to her classmates.

When I ask myself what makes a unique role model for future executives to emulate, the name Lisa Wesolek quickly comes to mind. Empathy, leadership and being in the moment are traits that Lisa embodies and something the EMBA Class of 2019 recognized and appreciated.”

Daniel D. Oglevee, MBA
Executive Director, EMBA
Sr. Lecturer, Finance
Department of Finance
The Ohio State University

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE LIST OF THE BEST & BRIGHTEST EXECUTIVE MBAs OF 2019 or RANKING THE BEST EMBA PROGRAMS IN THE U.S.