The Most Surprising Things About Executive MBA Programs

UCLA's Derek Herrera

UCLA’s Derek Herrera

“The most surprising thing about Business School I have learned is how relevant and applicable all of the lessons learned in class are. Prior to this experience, most of the academic programs I have been a part of focused on very lofty, academic concepts and theories that could be implemented over a long period of time to make organizational or operational changes. What I quickly found at business school is that I leave almost every class with tools or techniques that can be implemented immediately and the impact that those changes make is visible in a short period of time. The education I have received has been a great blend of lofty, higher-level academic concepts and practical tactics and techniques that can be used for immediate effect.” – Derek Herrera / UCLA, Anderson School of Management

So Much To Learn

“The most surprising thing about B-school, in particular going back to school at this point in my life, was how much experience and knowledge I had to share coupled with how much I really still had to learn. I suspected and hoped that I would learn a lot with getting my MBA, but you don’t know what you don’t know until you get there. I suspected as I decided to go back to school that much had likely changed since my first experience with B-school. Heck, we didn’t even have personal computers back then. There was no Windows, or Microsoft Office, and we sure didn’t live in the information world and the global business environment like we do today. Through my business experience, I had gained invaluable knowledge in much of these areas, but wanted to expand my knowledge through formal training. But I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of knowledge the professors had to share, the new ways of doing business and thinking about strategy, risk and finance, and how much of what I learned I am actually able to apply in my career.” – Stacey Mueller / Purdue University, Krannert School of Management

Hard Work . . . But Worth It

“I was most surprised by the amount of work required and the amount of value obtained.  I didn’t expect the program to be as rigorous as it was, but at the same time this resulted in incredible knowledge and value gained for me.” Jonathan D. Tenenbaum / University of Florida, Hough Graduate School of Business

“Don’t think you can adequately prepare mentally for the amount of work and intensity of the entire program, but especially the intensive week that kicks off the program. However, that said, the first week was such an enriching experience and really helped me engage into the program from day one.”  – Lars E. Carlson / Michigan State University, Broad College of Business 

Jolly Mazumdar

Jolly Mazumdar

Biggest Lessons And Best Experiences Are Unexpected 

“Irrespective of what professional level you enter the program at, an MBA conditions you to think differently and develop a broader perspective. I compare it to a self-awareness journey. When I joined the program I knew I was seeking something, but was not sure what. Unlike many of my classmates, I did not specifically join the program to become an entrepreneur, consultant or an investment banker. I had a much smaller goal of “learning business principles,” but as I reflect as a recent graduate, I attribute the EMBA experience as one of the largest factors in shaping my passion for entrepreneurship. More importantly the program has shown me the path. Only time will tell, but I believe this (bio-entrepreneurship) is what I am meant to do.”  Jolly Mazumdar / Columbia Business School 

Quantitative and Qualitative Are Both Important 

“The most surprising thing about business school has been the balance between quantitative and qualitative aspects. Even those disciplines that are quantitatively based, such as financial accounting, have qualitative aspects in their application.” – Abhi Mehrotra, University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School 

Value of Quantitative Data 

“The importance of applying quantitative data to decision making was what most surprised me about B-school.  I had grown up using my own instincts as a leader, but learning to couple them with specific tools for measuring the world around me has been a key area of growth.”  – Father Pete McCormick, University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

Not All Of Your Classmates Will Be As Committed As You Are . . . 

“Not all of my classmates were able to commit the same level of effort to school given work and life priorities. This imbalance made coordinating difficult at times when team members were not able to contribute to assigned projects.  These situations have analogous challenges in workplace settings, and the classroom version at least provided a personal learning environment on how to manage heterogeneous teams.” – Melinda Shockley, Boston University, Questrom School of Business

Penn State's Steve Ettinger

Penn State’s Steve Ettinger

But Some Classmates Will Amaze You

“The most surprising thing about business school is the incredible capacity and intellect of my classmates. I think it takes an extraordinary commitment to attend an executive MBA program while working in a high-level full-time job, and my classmates make it look easy. One of my extraordinary classmates is a VP of a Fortune 500 company in town, has 2-year-old identical twin boys, and gave birth during our last semester.  Her determination and capacity is astonishing and inspiring.” – Erin Dady / University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management 

Lessons Also Apply To Your Personal Life

“One of the most surprising things about business school was how applicable the basic foundations are to leading a personal (not just a professional) life. Business school teaches you about the real world, ways to interact with others and how to be caring and compassionate with the natural resources we have inherited.” – Steven Mark Ettinger / Penn State University, Smeal College of Business









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