2015 Best EMBA: Steven Mark Ettinger

Steve Ettinger

Steven Mark Ettinger


Penn State University, Smeal College of Business

Steve Ettinger jokes that “you’re never too old to learn.” At 55, he embodies this maxim. The director of clinical pperations for the Penn State Heart & Vascular Institute, Ettinger is described as “one of the best students I have seen in more than 30 years of teaching Executive MBA students” by Dennis P. Sheehan, the school’s faculty director for MBA programs. Then again, that shouldn’t surprise anyone, as Ettinger has been listed among the “Best Doctors in America” by Woodward by White. Eventually, he hopes to direct a cardiovascular program and become a CEO.

Age: 55

Location: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Family Members: Shira (wife), Joshua (son), Michael (son), and Arielle (daughter)

Undergraduate School: State University of NY at Albany

Undergraduate Degree: BS

Where are you currently working? Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Hershey Pennsylvania as the Director of Clinical Operations for the Penn State Heart & Vascular Institute.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I wanted to be an active participant in the ongoing conversation regarding healthcare reform.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…wondering why I did not accept the challenge of making myself a better person, a better listener, a better teacher and a valuable advocate for my patients and the future of healthcare in my region.”

What are your long-term professional goals? To be a Director of a Cardiovascular program and within time be promoted to CEO of the organization.

Favorite Courses: As a physician, my professional life’s focus has been dedicated to the study of field of medicine. As a result, when entering business school I found the courses to be exciting, interesting and provide me with an opportunity to view my work through a different lens. In addition, all of the professors at the Smeal College of Business have a deep passion for their area of expertise and this passion is truly contagious. When you become fully engaged in any activity and you dedicate yourself to learning, one recognizes the uniqueness that other individuals can bring to your day to day routine.  For me it is impossible to identify favorite courses as each professor, each lecture, and each class provided me with an opportunity to learn and grow and for that I am forever appreciative.

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? For me, the ability to return to school and to obtain my EMBA while continuing to practice as an interventional cardiologist is an accomplishment that I am most proud of to date. The adage “you are never too old to learn” has resonated with me over the past 24 months. All of us have the ability throughout our lives to continue to grow and learn. It is finding the motivation (i.e. expectancy theory) that moves you from one point to another that is so critical. Family and friends serve as wonderful motivators – for me it was my wife who always encourages me to reach for a higher purpose in life. Thankfully, I listened to her when the idea of going to business school was only a seed!

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would like to thank my beautiful and loving wife, Shira who helped me through this experience. In every relationship there is a need for give and take, when to lead and when to allow others to step in to the limelight. One cannot minimize the stress on a relationship when going to business school while also having a full time job.  Seeing that there was a greater purpose for this effort and providing words of support and encouragement throughout the program was a gift that my wife gave to me and for that I will forever be appreciative of her generosity and love.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? Given the sweeping changes in healthcare, it is important to be able to view the delivery of healthcare not only from the point of view of a physician, but from the perspective of those who make decisions relating to how care is supported and funded. I was given the opportunity at Penn State Hershey Medical Center to play a more active role in the daily operations of the Penn State Heart & Vascular Institute. In order to fully appreciate the perspective of hospital leadership, I would need to be able to understand their concerns – their vocabulary and their metrics used to assess organizational value. This was a clear gap in my “tool box” and so it was with the support of my colleagues at work that I embarked on this wonderful educational journey.

The Smeal College of Business is recognized for supply chain management (important in the medical field), strategy and implementation (vital to healthcare reform) and leadership (critical to becoming a member of the administrative team in a hospital). Given these strengths of the program, it was a natural fit to attend the Smeal College of Business.

What did you enjoy most about the executive MBA program? I fully enjoyed the professors and the students in my EMBA program. I was amazed by the level of insight and intelligence of the class discussions, the lifetime experience of the student body and the integrity of my peers. Recognizing that there are different ways to teach and to learn, I found myself looking forward to the time I would spend in class with my colleagues. It is something that I know I will miss after graduation.

What is your most memorable moment from business school? Day one was the most memorable day of attending business school. Once I walked into the classroom I felt the level of energy and excitement that continued throughout the program. I think we were all a bit concerned as to the time and effort such an undertaking would require – but we also knew that we were in this together.

Fun fact about yourself: No matter the situation, I always try to focus on the positive.  There is so much negative energy in the world that remaining positive is not always easy, but it is much more rewarding.

Favorite book: Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie an old man, a young man and life’s greatest lesson

Favorite movie: Citizen Kane

Favorite musical performer: Josh Groban, Jethro Tull

Favorite television show: Downton Abbey

Favorite vacation spot: San Francisco, California

What are your hobbies? Exercising; reading; taking long walks and hikes with my wife; watching movies on a Sunday afternoon eating popcorn with the love of my life, my wife Shira.

Twitter Handle: @TrueMindfulness

What made Steve such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015 for your executive MBA program?

“Steve Ettinger has been a model student during his time in the Penn State Smeal Executive MBA program. I will be sad to see him graduate in May. There are a couple of qualities that have distinguished Steve. First, he’s a serious student. He is in the program to learn things and that desire shines through in every interaction you have with him. He doesn’t complain about the work involved because he knows it is for his own good.

Second, Steve is highly respected by everyone involved with the program. He sets a great example of how to participate in the program. He asks good questions; he supports his teammates; and he helps the other members of the class. You couldn’t ask for a better classmate.

Third, Steve is naturally looked to as one of the class leaders. For the reasons I gave above, people respect Steve’s opinion. Finally, Steve is just a nice guy. All his classmates recognize that as do all the teachers. You can tell he cares about everyone in the class and goes out of his way to help. In summary, one of the best students I have seen in more than 30 years of teaching Executive MBA students.”

– Dennis P. Sheehan, Benzak Professor of Finance and Faculty Director, MBA Programs



Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.