Kishia Haberle built a career in operations, working in supply chain, procurement and contracts in automation manufacturing. After about 15 years, she was ready for a new challenge.
She’d worked in functionally specific roles throughout her career, and her lack of overall business experience limited her options outside those areas. So, she started thinking about an MBA.
“When year 17 hit in the same specialty area, I took action to apply. I knew I would need something to provide me not only a leg up when being considered for positions outside of my function, but I needed the confidence through gaining knowledge where I lacked experience,” Haberle tells Poets&Quants.
Haberle, a wife and mother of two school children, needed a program that fit her busy schedule and allowed her to engage with professionals with similar levels of experience. She found it in her own backyard: Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School Executive MBA in Houston.
TEXAS A&M MAYS EMBA SPOTLIGHT
An extrovert, Haberle wanted an engaging classroom experience, not one where she was stuck behind a screen. The lockstep, cohort approach at Mays was an obvious selling point.
“The camaraderie and team-focused approach with the professors truly set it apart from other EMBA programs. The environment of success is achieved from the efforts of individuals coming together as teams and mimics what we all experience in our daily professional lives,” says Haberle, EMBA ‘20, who was sponsored by her employer.
Another plus: The alternating weekend, Friday/Saturday schedule. Haberle traveled extensively throughout the program. Several times, she flew in from Latin America overnight, arriving in Houston early on Friday morning only to head straight to class. The schedule also gave her Sundays for her family or other commitments.
And then there was the network. “Meeting those 48 individuals, whom I never would have met without this program, has strengthened both my professional and personal network in ways I never could have imagined. The bonds formed with my fellow classmates, both on a professional and personal level, are invaluable,” she says.
Haberle embarked on the EMBA journey with the hope to advance within her company or potentially pivot in her career. She did both. She has since transitioned to sales and is learning a whole new side of the business.
“The mission of the program is to ‘Discover. Transform. Impact.’ Discover the foundational framework, transform with skills and behavior, and impact through my purpose, goals, and results,” she says. “Mission accomplished.”
Below, program director Julie Orzabal tells us more about the Mays EMBA.
Let’s start with a brief history of the Mays EMBA.
The Mays Business School Executive MBA Program at Texas A&M University launched its first class in August of 1999 in north Houston, the most populous city in Texas and the fourth largest in the US. As industry diversified, we designed and opened our custom-built, state-of-the-art Houston campus in 2012 in the Houston-CityCentre development, more centrally located to our students and just west of downtown.
What is the mission and value proposition of the program?
The Mays Executive MBA program follows the mission and vision of Mays Business School which is to "Advance the World's Prosperity." At the program level, we recognized the journey our students follow as they earn their MBA in the context of Mays Business School. Our students: "Discover. Transform. Impact." Our students’ journey includes discovering their own power, transforming themselves and their future, and impacting our world through studying the interrelated fundamentals of business.
Our emphasis on care, collaboration, and community defines our culture. Students often share with us the welcoming and collaborative culture they experience, noting this culture enhances and furthers their learning, their transformation, and their impact. We want our program to be a safe place to practice, take risks, learn, and grow, whether that’s in learning how to dialogue with differing viewpoints or manage the negotiations for a merger. The transformation we see in our students is evidence of the uniqueness of the environment in the Mays Executive MBA Program.
Why type of student do you target?
Since the inception of the Mays EMBA program, each peer cohort is comprised of experienced, seasoned executives. Our students average 17 years of work experience and bring a wealth of practical knowledge which enhances classroom discussions and produces impressive capstone projects.
Our students also come from increasingly varied industries and organizational functions, which lends itself to richer discussion and more multifaceted insight in the classroom. Cohorts comment on how they value having a lifelong group of peers and advisors that they can turn to both in the program and beyond on a range of topics outside of their own expertise.
The format of the EMBA also allows students to apply learned knowledge and experiences from our program to their current positions. This provides immediate value to their company while enriching their educational experience.
What are the differentiators to your program?
Three unique experiential learning opportunities are part of the Mays Executive MBA program. With a focus on teams, we introduce students to the world-renowned 52-acre Disaster City training facility located at Texas A&M University. Disaster City is led by experienced first-responder trainers, and features disaster response and recovery exercises used by Texas Task Force 1 and other emergency personnel across the globe. Students are placed in various catastrophic scenarios where they test their ability to lead others, effectively communicate, and operate as a united team in the middle of crisis or disagreement.
At the completion of the first year, our students are exposed to the deep interface between government and business through a four-day, immersive Washington D.C. experience in partnership with The Washington Campus. This unique experiential learning opportunity includes interactions with national leaders and policymakers, allowing our students to see how their actions or the actions of their companies can impact policies, businesses, and local communities.
To conclude the program, students submit an individual Capstone Project. We encourage them to tackle a current problem or opportunity in real-world businesses and provide creative solutions or ideas that result in real-world impact. For the Capstone Project, our students can choose to conduct an individual project for their own employer, a non-profit, or their own start-up. The project allows our students to apply their entire learning experience in a complex, dynamic environment and to customize their experience. Students apply their coursework and leadership skills, lead change management, and manage expectations – delivering significant real-world value in a project which will directly apply to their career aspirations.
Our program resides in Houston's energy corridor – a dynamic, critical segment of our global economy. The changing dynamics in the energy business, the more rapid cycle macro-economic changes in Texas and the U.S. in the last decade have given rise to an expansion in career services, including a dedicated career services team, to meet students' professional and employment needs. Whether students are preparing themselves for promotions within their organizations or pivoting to a new career opportunity.
We have also seen an increased interest in entrepreneurship from our students and former students. Support from a generous donor will allow us to open the Scott Steinford Idea and Innovation Lab in the summer of 2023. The lab will deliver both the theory and the hands-on, actionable competencies desired by entrepreneurs, empowering their dreams from start-up to exit.
What EMBA trends are you watching? Are you discussing online versions or more hybrid opportunities?
We continuously watch trends, listen to current and former students, and partner with employers to help uncover the future needs of the workforce. To respond to market needs, our program has evolved in delivery and curriculum needs.
Our classes are primarily in-person, but over the last three years, we have addressed the need for flexibility. Students can now join us live online if they are traveling or live outside the Houston area. We are currently reviewing our overall delivery format to encompass a new hybrid model. As we learned with COVID, adaptability is as critical in education as in business.
To empower and embolden our students, we teach the fundamentals of business with additional emphasis on business and corporate strategy, data-driven decision-making, and personal leadership. Our most recent curriculum addition is a course focused on the student's executive performance skills, including business communication, career management, and social skills required to lead in an executive role.
As we prepare to celebrate our 25th anniversary this fall, we are proud to have over 1,000 current and former students in the Mays Executive MBA Program Aggie Network.
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