Prior to Wharton, Andrew Brown, WG’15, worked as an engineer, focusing on database design, logistics, and repair operations for a variety of defense programs. When he moved into a management role — leading a functional team of 20 people — he decided it was time to get an MBA.
“I wanted to expand my core business management skillset and improve my leadership skills. I knew rounding out my business knowledge would open up future career options,” he explained.
Wharton was a “dream school” for Andrew. “It was always on my radar as a top business school. When I learned about the MBA Program for Executives, it seemed like it could be a perfect fit. The program offers the same rigorous MBA as the full-time program, but I could continue working.”
Researching MBA Programs
To learn more about Wharton, Andrew attended an information session in Orlando, where he spoke to the admissions director and alumni. He also used LinkedIn to find a Wharton alumnus at his company, who was happy to talk about his experiences.
Andrew visited Wharton’s campus in Philadelphia as well as a few other schools. “When I sat in on Wharton classes, it felt different from the other programs. There was a different caliber of students and professors here. The macroeconomics professor had worked at the U.S. Treasury and he did a great job of explaining very complicated concepts. After sitting in that class and speaking with current students, I knew this program was the right one for me.”
Commuting from Orlando to Philadelphia
In the beginning of the program, commuting to Philadelphia was a bit daunting. Andrew said, “A lot of people would ask why I was traveling all the way to Philadelphia when there are closer and virtual options. To me, there was no question that the value from Wharton was worth the commute.”
Since Wharton publishes the full two-year schedule in advance, Andrew purchased his flights well ahead of time, bringing down the cost. He also used the time on the 2.5-hour direct flights to read case studies, do homework, write reports, and catch up on work. On the flights home, he would use that time to relax.
“The commute actually became enjoyable because there was a group of students who travelled from various locations and we would spend time together at the airport after classes ended while we waited for our flights. I also had a classmate travel with me from Orlando and it was a nice way to get to know each other better,” said Andrew.
Applying Classroom Knowledge to His Job
Andrew’s classes were immediately applicable to his job. He points to Statistics as an example. “We studied big data sets in class and then I would go to my job and use tools like regression analysis to predict funding levels and proposal value. When I had questions, I would talk to the professor when I was back on campus. Students benefit from applying their learning to their jobs and then having professors help refine that application in real time.”
The global aspect of the program was also valuable, noted Andrew. “I went to South Africa for Global Business Week, and I took a week-long elective in Brazil on the energy industry and another in China on how businesses operate in that part of the world. The global classes are an amazing opportunity to learn about business in countries many people never have a chance to visit.”
Seeing Immediate Career Impact
Andrew said the program also opened up new doors. “Once I started the program, recruiters contacted me more frequently and with more senior roles on LinkedIn. After I graduated, that occurred even more. I found my current role through one of those recruiters. My Wharton MBA stuck out, especially at my current company which values the Wharton brand. The CEO is an alumnus and brings in Wharton faculty to teach our leadership team.”
In his new role, Andrew is director of integration and program management. “The company is undergoing a large merger, and I’m part of a fifty-person senior integration team focused on various aspects of the integration. My Wharton MBA is helpful in this new role because I focus on value capture, synergies, and efficiencies — all of which I learned about in school.”
Talking to Prospective Students
As an alumnus, Andrew enjoys talking to prospective students about the program. “Those discussions helped me when I was researching programs, and I like to give back.”
He says a common question at Information Sessions is how the MBA Program for Executives differs from the full-time MBA program. “I explain that you earn the same Wharton MBA in both programs. The EMBA program is not watered-down, and students have the same curriculum, class hours, and faculty as full-time MBA students. We all earn the exact same degree at graduation. The only difference is the format because you continue working.”
Another frequent question involves the return on investment. “I explain that the program has paid for itself in terms salary growth and overall knowledge, but also — most importantly — from the people I met. The friendships and network are truly priceless. This program is a worthwhile investment both professionally and personally,” said Andrew.
— Meghan Laska
Posted: February 24, 2020