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EMBA program offers fast track
to executive suite

 
  As Vice President and General Manager of Agilysys, Tina Stehle 06WEMBA must constantly juggle numerous different tasks, but after getting through the Emory program, she says, “I’m not afraid to tackle anything.”

Tina Stehle 06WEMBA had a top job in software technology at Agilysys, Inc. but wanted to advance into general management. She had her eye on a plum post.

“The person in that position was retiring in a few years,” Stehle recalls. “To move up, I had to broaden my knowledge of accounting and finance, fields I hadn’t been exposed to.”

So at age 48, Stehle entered the Weekend Executive MBA Program at Goizueta Business School, earning her degree in May 2006. A few months later, she landed the job she prized.

Today Stehle, vice president and general manager of Agilysys, runs a 210 employee division that provides operations software to hotels and casinos. She oversees eleven direct reports and offices in the U.S., China, and England.

“My Emory MBA distinguished me from others interested in the job,” says Stehle. “Even before finishing my degree, I used a lot of what I learned in the classroom. For instance, after taking financial accounting reporting my first term, I was able to participate more in our budget planning meetings.

“Goizueta was a very rewarding experience,” she says. “We recently made an acquisition—Visual One Systems Corporation—and my MBA training helped there, too.”

Stehle’s story is not unusual. Talk to Goizueta executive MBA graduates and you hear similar tales of specialists evolving into executives with a broad-based understanding of business principles and dynamics.

“Talent clearly is a trait highly sought after by companies,” says Ed Leonard, associate dean of Goizueta’s W. Cliff Oxford Executive MBA Programs. “We help talented people like Tina to further develop general management capabilities and skills. Students have told us that the insights gained in EMBA have changed their lives.”

Carol Fuzzard, EMBA program director, adds, “We train people to assume leadership roles. A general manager may not be an accountant, while overseeing the accounting department. That manager needs a working knowledge of finance and accounting to understand how the numbers are generated.”

Scottie Mayfield 86EMBA, president of Mayfield Dairy Farms in Athens, Tennessee, says he’s still reaping the benefits of his degree.

“I was a marketing guy whose strengths weren’t in finance, accounting, or economics,” says the 56-year-old, who runs a company with 1,850 employees and $380 million in annual revenue. “Emory was exhilarating. The program improves your weak areas and enhances your strengths.”

Another advantage, Mayfield adds, is that the program “exposes you to high-level thinking about things you’ve done in the business world. You learn the theories behind the practices.”

Various backgrounds, varying worldviews
“Students not only bring different expertise to the classroom, they bring different ways of approaching problems,” says Leonard, noting that the EMBA Class of 2008, at 138 students, is the largest ever. “A physician is trained to think differently than an engineer. What you get is a wonderful mix, a wonderful milieu for learning.”

Consider veteran environmental attorney Bill Green 06MEMBA, a partner in the 45-attorney Hopping Green & Sams law firm in Tallahassee. Green has a doctorate in chemistry and a law degree from Georgetown. He was sixty-one when he entered the Goizueta program in 2004. “I’d put in more orbits around the sun than most kids in the class, but I’m happiest when learning,” he says. “What I found interesting about the program was how much of it is scientifically based. Many quantitative tools—statistics, analyses, market surveys—help people make better decisions.”

For Tony Colaizzo 06MEMBA, who oversees 25,000 employees as West Coast operations manager for UPS, the program enhanced his strategic ability.

“I’d always had good business sense,” says Colaizzo, “but now it’s better. The financial and general management training was excellent, and the case studies spectacular. As a result, I’m a much better strategic thinker and can build better business plans.”

Marvin Ellison 05MEMBA was 38 and already a vice president at Home Depot when he enrolled in Goizueta’s EMBA Program. Today he’s division president for the northern United States, a portfolio with 750 stores and 110,000 employees.

 
 
Marvin Ellison 05MEMBA

“The MBA training has been a tremendous help in my career,” says the Atlanta executive, who was promoted twice while still in school. “The program broadened my thinking, especially in finance and business strategy. It also boosted my credibility with decision-makers within the company.”

But for all these rising executives, balancing career, school, and family life was an adjustment.

Ellison had two young children at the time. “It was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done,” he admits. “Work responsibilities didn’t slow down, and I also had to be a good parent and husband.”

Stehle describes her Emory days as a blur of work, job-related travel, and weekend classes. “You become an expert at time management,” she says. “Airports are a great place to read up on case studies. Goizueta officials do it the right way: they tell you that for 16 months, it’s work and school, work and school. But the time
flew by.”

WEMBA or MEMBA?
Goizueta’s executive MBA students can choose between two formats: weekend and modular. The 16-month Weekend EMBA program offers classroom instruction on alternating Fridays/Saturdays with some Thursdays in the mix. The 21-month Modular EMBA Program centers around nine weeklong learning modules. Between residencies, MEMBAs collaborate on projects, while distance learning totals thirty percent of instruction. To acquaint students with the challenges and opportunities of business abroad, an international colloquium is also a core requirement. For more information, contact Joan Coonrod at 404.727.6769.

—Tom Barry

 

 

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