After eight years of working in finance, Sherry Ann Mohan, WG’13, decided to go back to school for an MBA. “I had majored in accounting and finance, but I realized that I hadn’t retained as much of the finance knowledge that I needed when I was dealing with it every day. I wanted to enhance my understanding through an MBA,” she said.
Sherry Ann didn’t want to disrupt her career at Goldman Sachs, so she researched local EMBA programs. It wasn’t until a senior partner suggested Wharton that she looked at programs outside of New York City. She recalled, “I already had a long commute to work and was hesitant to commute to an EMBA program, but he said it was worth looking into.”
After she visited Wharton for her interview and observed a few classes, she knew it was a good fit. Sherry Ann said, “The train ride was easy and there was a positive energy among the students I met. I was sold on Wharton after that visit.”
Juggling Work, School, and Kids
As a single mother of two kids, Sherry Ann was concerned about how she would manage being away every other weekend. Her solution was communication and organization.
She explained, “I talked to my sons, who were 13 and 9 at the time, and said this is what we need to do for the next two years to make this happen. I also organized a lot of support from my family. My grandmother was essential because I dropped off my kids at her house on Thursday evenings and picked them up on Saturday evenings during school weekends. And when I travelled for work, she kept them even longer.”
She noted that having the two-year schedule available in advance was helpful. “I printed that out for everyone at work and home.”
Learning how to juggle and prioritize was one of the first lessons from Wharton for Sherry Ann. “I quickly saw that I had to delegate at work and home to make sure things kept moving forward. That translated into learning how to leverage a team better and being more upfront in my communications to layout expectations. All of those skills helped shape me into a better leader.”
Applying Classroom Knowledge Immediately to Work
Sherry Ann noted that being able to apply knowledge from classes immediately to her job was also valuable.
She pointed to her derivatives class as an example. She said, “I took that class at the same time that Goldman was spinning off the business I supported, and my role involved planning what it would look like after the spinoff for Goldman. In a meeting about the transaction, I was able to suggest that we build out a specific type of financial product to reflect this transaction. Not only was the team impressed, but I impressed myself with how I could apply classroom knowledge to add value in that transaction.”
She added, “I’ve also found many opportunities to apply what I learned in negotiations to get people on board with ideas and make sure projects move forward. I learned how to frame the problem and see the other side’s view.”
Another value of the Wharton EMBA program, Sherry Ann noted, is the brand. “It adds credibility and opens doors for conversations.”
Finding a Supportive Environment
Sherry Ann noted that the program’s “nurturing” environment was also beneficial.
She said, “As a black woman, there are different ways that I interact with the world and the world interacts with me. Being in inclusive and supportive spaces like Wharton helps me navigate in places where there aren’t that many people who look like me. Women and diverse candidates will find that this program wants everyone to succeed.”
Making a Career Impact
After graduation, Sherry Ann applied her communication and leadership skills to have clear conversations about what she wanted to do next at her company. “That helped me move into a position where I had more exposure to decision-makers and content that led to the role I wanted, which is where I am now,” she said.
Today, she is managing director and CFO for the consumer business, which started in 2016. “My job is to focus on the bottom-line impact of this business to the firm in the near- and medium-term horizon. We focus on analytics around business decisions, strategies, and the path forward for broader success of this business. Even though we’re a relatively new business at the firm, as of December 2019, we managed about $60 billion in deposits and $7 billion in loans,” she said.
Sherry Ann credited Wharton with helping to impact her career. “As a CPA, I was entrenched in the language of business, but Wharton exposed me to other aspects like marketing, negotiation, and technical finance. I also learned from my classmates who brought different perspectives about business issues to class. If you want to be a leader, you have to understand others’ perspectives and have the skillset to take your career to the next level.”
She added, “If I had to do this program again, I definitely would. I’m so glad that partner encouraged me to look at programs outside of New York City because Wharton was an experience that I couldn’t replicate anywhere else.”
Click here to read an article about Sherry Ann in the Journal of Accountancy.
—By Meghan Laska
Posted: May 6, 2020