2021 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Carla Dey, Michigan State (Broad)

Carla Dey

Michigan State University, Eli Broad College of Business

Age: 35

“Dedicated and collaborative problem-solver that enjoys connecting people and processes to achieve more together.”

Hometown: Okemos, MI

Family Members: Ted Dey (spouse)

Fun fact about yourself: I learned how to ride a motorcycle a few years ago and wrote my first LinkedIn blog post about lessons learned from the road. It was a true lesson in exposing and embracing my personal vulnerabilities by being a “beginner” at something again.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Grand Valley State University.

Bachelor of Business Administration in Management of Information Systems.

Where are you currently working?

Company: Stryker

Role: IT Business Partner for HR, Legal, & Compliance

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

  • 2021 EMBA Class Representative, Lansing Cohort
  • Mentor to undergrad students looking for interview prep or career counseling
  • Volunteer at the Boys & Girls Club of Benton Harbor
  • Avid Yoga practitioner

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?

Our team won the “pitch competition” for the Entrepreneurship class and this was an extremely rewarding achievement. The pitch competition is the final event where every team gets to present the business concept they have been working on throughout class. Our business idea was a great culmination of our team’s passions and how we leveraged our strengths to develop an idea and presentation that we felt proud of doing. In addition, it was the first time a Lansing team had won the competition since 2016! This win was truly a group effort of which I am extremely humbled to have been a part of it.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of the work I did to develop training material and host trainings for our IT team members while I was at Whirlpool Corporation. For many years, we had a “business relationship management” curriculum that all IT associates would attend as part of their development. This curriculum focused on techniques to build trust with stakeholders, communicate effectively, and solve problems. It also provided the audience a forum to share and learn from each other’s various experiences. I always had a lot of fun as a “trainer” for these sessions and was proud to see it live on year after year with high satisfaction ratings.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? There are two professors whom I will remember the most. The first was Professor Jon Wagner, who taught PIM800 Managerial Skills. Professor Wagner provided language and frameworks for concepts that I was already thinking about but could not figure out how to express. In addition, his expectations were very clear and his class was highly engaging. The second professor I’d like to acknowledge was Professor Nicholas Hays, who taught PIM852 Negotiations. Despite COVID changing the normal, in-person class plans, Professor Hays was able to make the virtual negotiations class extremely engaging by incorporating multiple mock negotiations. In addition, the class provided great insights into my own negotiation style and how to look at negotiation as maximizing the overall value for both sides.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I chose MSU’s EMBA program for three main reasons. First, the focus on collaboration and team-based learning was important to me. Many of the best things are accomplished as a team and I felt it was important to continue maturing how I worked in teams. In addition, it provided a great opportunity to learn from other very talented individuals outside of my company and industry. Secondly, there is a strong focus on integrated management and financial acumen, and I really wanted to grow my understanding of the financials for managing a business. Lastly, growing up in mid-Michigan, I was always a Michigan State fan. While I did not attend MSU for undergrad, it was a no-brainer for my EMBA as it was a well-respected program with national recognition and I could finally, officially, call myself a Spartan!

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? While I really learned a lot around financial acumen and business valuation, the class I was looking forward to the most going into the program was Negotiations. I was very interested in better understanding how to drive win-win scenarios, maintain relationships, and stick to my high expectations. As an IT business partner, I am frequently negotiating both large and small vendor contracts and I’ve always felt the need to balance relationships and quality of delivery. The Negotiation class reinforced my thinking that negotiations can be win-win. Going in with that mentality versus a distributive mentality can increase the overall value of the negotiation. In addition, we were given a negotiation preparation framework that I found very valuable for complex, multi-party negotiations.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? It’s not every year that you need to deal with a pandemic! In March 2020, when everyone was sent home from work and school, many of my classmates had to figure out how to work, study, attend classes for their MBA, and homeschool or babysit all at the same time! My classmates that have children deserve the credit for juggling everything. I just did my best to keep everyone organized and provide an extra hand wherever I could on our team projects.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Take the time to identify your personal goals for getting an MBA and then evaluate and attend events for multiple programs to check them against your goals. I also highly encourage working for multiple years before going back for a Master’s. This allows you to bring real life perspectives into the classroom, enriching the overall discussion and your ability to apply and practice the learnings.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? Going back to school was what I expected, as I had taken a couple years to make the decision, research programs, and speak with many students and alumni prior to committing. You need to be ready to put in the time. While the semesters varied in workload, on average it truly required about ten hours of homework or study time each week in addition to the time spent in class. If you are considering going back to school, I highly recommend speaking with current students to understand the structure of the program and the anticipated workload.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I really have zero regrets. I believe you can learn something in any situation.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? My entire team (Team 18!) deserves a shout out. They are a great group of motivated and inspiring individuals: Karim Blake, Mike Cotter, Jennifer Dyer and Frank Taylor. Karim always provided an analytical viewpoint and a splash of encouragement when needed most (such as before a stressful finance test!). Mike always had great contributions around leadership, financials, and business development. Jenn is very creative, caring, and a good storyteller. She always had an example to share or an idea to keep the team moving forward. Frank’s confidence inspired me to dream bigger and let my guard down occasionally; he was willing to take on any task for our team and, in a pinch, he was our default spokesperson because we knew he would have a good story to share! In addition, Mike, Jenn, and Frank all made huge sacrifices with their families to achieve their MBA goals and it was incredible to see how they managed work, family, and school.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I wanted to learn from the best. MSU’s executive MBA program focuses on bringing a diverse group of individuals together with real world experience so we can all learn from one another. In addition, I get more out of in-person learning than virtual, and I wanted the regular commitment of weekend classes to keep me regimented.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to make a difference in shaping IT organizations and helping people become the best they can be. As an IT professional, I like to break the stigma that IT is hard to work with, and I like to ensure that the goals of IT are aligned to the goals of the business. On a more personal level, I enjoy helping undergraduate students with resume building, interview prep, networking, and finding jobs. That’s because I remember those days when I had no idea what I was actually going to do with a management of information systems degree. During my senior year of undergrad, my career counselor played a key role in helping me navigate next steps and get my first job so I want to pay it forward!

What made Carla such an invaluable addition to the class of 2021?

“From the start of the program, Carla has been a true collaborator, taking on the role of class representative. In this role, she has negotiated positive dynamics in the classroom and with our administration. She has been able to successfully pivot during times of uncertainty by thoughtfully assessing a situation and creating buy-in from her peers. She is a trusted individual that many confide in, all while balancing a new career. Carla is truly a remarkable student and great representative of the Broad College Executive MBA.”

Kara Tripi
Assistant Director, Broad Executive MBA



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