Heading West For An Elective Course In San Francisco

It’s been awhile since I have written, and I have to admit that it’s largely because the last two months have been insanely busy.  My company closed our financing round, classwork continued to pile up, and then I blinked and the holidays were here.

One of the unique strengths of Wharton’s MBA for Executives (WEMBA) Program is that it allows students to participate in so many different activities – clubs, speakers, business plan competitions, special courses, et cetera.  I am interested in so many of the activities, so one of my challenges is that I tend to get involved in almost everything.

Therefore, during an over-ambitious moment this fall, I decided to sign up for one of Wharton’s Global Modular Courses, “Product Design and Development: Design of Web-Based Products and Services” at Wharton’s new San Francisco campus in Hills Plaza on the Embarcadero.  Considering that I work for a tech start-up and know little more than the programming language we use (.net), it seemed like the perfect class to give me baseline knowledge.  Additionally, I have been considering a semester at Wharton | San Francisco, and therefore I thought this would be a great opportunity to check out the campus – and the commute. The catch?  My seventeen-day winter break became even shorter.

As fascinating as the class sounded, when exams ended on Dec. 17 and I realized that I hadn’t even thought about the holidays – or prepared for the family about to descend upon my home in the Big Easy – I started to seriously question my decision to attend the course.  The course essentially integrates a business competition into an intensive four-day course, and as I started to fret that I would soon need to present my initial pitch to the class, I wondered why I was subjecting myself to the self-induced torture of public speaking over winter break!

Boy was I wrong.  Words can’t describe how much I enjoyed the class.  I immediately realized that I was surrounded by kindred spirits, Wharton first- and second-year MBA students from the full-time program and from the executive program, both San Francisco and Philadelphia based. The combination of lectures from veteran entrepreneur Professor Karl Ulrich, who is also Wharton’s Vice Dean for Innovation, as well as former graduates of the course (some of whom are now CEOs of start-ups and VCs in the Bay Area) and the actual competition itself, made for a fun week that flew by.  My concept gained traction, and by the end of the week, we had a full team to refine the idea and create the actual website prototype.

The fact that we literally were the first class at the new Wharton | San Francisco campus certainly didn’t hurt either.  The facility is absolutely gorgeous, with sweeping views of the sound and Bay Bridge.  How is it possible to stress about a pitch when rehearsing against that kind of backdrop?  (To learn more about the Wharton MBA for Executives Program view a Web cast featuring admissions staff  held Jan. 23, 2012: http://wharton.onyour.tv/webcast/)

The class was the perfect segue into spring term.  It gave me a glimpse into the exciting second-year electives around the corner once the core coursework is complete.

I was so happy coming off the class week that, despite the redeye to Philly that Thursday night to kick off spring term, I was pumped on Friday when I saw my team and classmates again.  How was it, they asked?  Amazing.  Professor Ulrich, don’t be surprised if the class wait list is even longer next year.

Note: To learn more about the course: http://whartonmagazine.com/issues/spring-2010/the-value-of-a-crash-course/

Christy Luquire lives and works in New Orleans and is a first-year student in Wharton’s Executive MBA program.

Her previous posts on Poets&QuantsforExecs:

Introducing Wharton EMBA Student Christy Luquire

Just Keep Swimming

Ordering Takeout Seven Nights In A Row When You Love To Cook

East Meets West and Everything In Between

Spreading the Word


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