As Daniel Wu’s, WG’20, job at fashion retailer Revolve Group became more managerial, he decided it was time to get a formal business education. His prior engineering degrees prepared him for the technical side of analytics, but he was starting to interact with internal clients across business functions. “I wanted to speak the language of business and understand clients’ perspectives and context to help give better advice. I also wanted to expand my network and benefit from leadership training and executive coaching,” he said.
Looking at EMBA programs, Wharton quickly rose to the top of Daniel’s list. He explained, “I knew about the full-time MBA program because several of my coworkers are Wharton alumni. When I saw a brochure for Wharton on my boss’ desk, I discovered that I could continue working and earn a Wharton MBA in San Francisco. Not only was this program close to home, but Wharton is also a top school for marketing and analytics. It was a great fit.”
Asking for Sponsorship
A required part of the Wharton EMBA application process is a sponsorship letter from employers stating that they agree to grant the time off needed to participate in the program. Daniel began thinking about how to approach his employer in the summer, long before the Round 1 deadline in December.
To request the required letter of support, Wu created a document explaining how the company could benefit from the program as well as details on the academic calendar. (Applicants can view sample sponsorship request letters here.)
After Daniel was accepted to Wharton’s EMBA program, his manager (a Wharton alumnus) suggested that he put together a proposal for financial sponsorship. As the company did not have a formal tuition reimbursement program, Daniel decided to create a more in-depth version of the prior document to present to the CEO and CFO.
“At the time, the company was going through an IPO, so I explained how my Wharton education would add implicit value in that process as well as provide the leadership training to help me take on greater responsibility,” he explained. “I noted how I would learn from world-renowned professors about best practices and immediately apply knowledge from classes to my job.”
He asked for $45,000 in sponsorship for two years, and the company sponsored him with $50,000. In exchange, Daniel agreed to stay at the company for two years after graduation.
Adding Value at Work
The EMBA program immediately helped Daniel add value to his company. “Going through the IPO, I was responsible for financial reports and my Accounting class with Prof. Lambert was especially useful. I could talk to professors outside of class with any questions and gain even more insights,” he recalled, noting that the Executive Feedback and Coaching Program also brought noticeable improvement in his leadership skills.
“I was able to do a lot of things better like working with peers, managing up, and pushing projects forward,” he said. “In Prof. Fader’s marketing class on Customer Centricity, I learned how to use Customer Lifetime Value to make smart decisions about customers. And through an independent study project with Prof. Barbara Kahn, I learned about the massive changes in China’s retail landscape via interviews and company visits in Beijing and Shanghai.”
During School, Daniel achieved the promotion he wanted; he became vice president of business intelligence and data science and joined the senior leadership team.
Sponsorship Tips for Applicants
Daniel offers four pieces of advice for applicants seeking financial sponsorship from their employers.
“Give your management team, your peers, and your direct reports an upfront understanding of what it will mean for you to be in class every other Friday and a couple of full weeks during the next two years. You need to have their support so that you can focus on classes rather than work during class days.”
Highlight the ROI
“Explain the benefits that you will bring back to the organization in concrete examples like how you will add value to specific projects or learn new skills. Show how you will be able to better perform your job.”
Find a Sponsor
“Ideally, find a Wharton alumnus or alumna at your company for support. The goal is to find someone who values the Wharton MBA and can advocate for you to attend a top MBA program while staying employed.”
“Be appreciative of what is offered for sponsorship. Even partial sponsorship reflects a company’s willingness to invest in you long term. Be willing to create alternative schedules to make sure everyone benefits. ”
He added, “Wharton was 100 percent worth it financially, professionally, and personally. It is making me a better leader and manager and prepared me to achieve my long-term goals.”
—By Meghan Laska
Posted: August 16, 2021