Stuart Gold, a senior intelligence analyst for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency and a Navy Reserve officer, came to Wharton’s EMBA program to advance his career. He explains that it’s important for those in the public sector to learn new perspectives and skills to make a greater impact.
We recently asked Stuart to tell us more about his Wharton experience. Here is what he said:
Getting an MBA
I’d been thinking about getting an MBA for a while because I knew it would lead to future opportunities. It would make me a stronger candidate as I seek to advance to more senior levels in the government. Those roles are about putting people, money, and resources together to create positive effects.
I thought an MBA would be my best bet. I also wanted an MBA to possibly help my family’s business, which is a diversified enterprise with commercial real estate, joint ventures in Latin America, and industrial equipment sales.
Coming to Wharton
A few years ago, I worked with a Wharton EMBA student who was a Navy SEAL. We talked a lot about the program so I became very familiar with Wharton. Later, I met a Wharton staff member during a Navy Reserve assignment who told me even more about the school. What really sealed the deal was my campus visit.
I sat in on an innovation class and saw how the students were from all kinds of backgrounds. That diversity combined with the class materials showed me that this isn’t just a program for people in a particular area like finance or those with a business degree. Wharton is about so much more than that.
You quickly realize that this is not a competitive environment. You are all making great sacrifices to be in this program and you stand to gain a lot more by being a team player.
MBAs in the Public Sector
Competition is getting tougher in the public sector, especially for senior executive service positions. You want to be the best prepared candidate and have the skill set required in terms of leadership, management, and business acumen. An MBA is not required, but it is additional proof of your ability to do the job and it is becoming increasingly common in this sector.
Financing the Program
I mobilized to active duty for two years to the Joint Special Operations Command. I deployed twice to Iraq before going back into the Reserves. Active duty and veterans can seek financial support for the EMBA program through the Post-9/11 GI Bill®.* (Some military students may also be eligible for Penn’s Yellow Ribbon Program.) In addition, Wharton waives the application fee for military students and veterans.
There is a loan forgiveness program at Wharton for students who plan to stay in the public sector after graduation. I intend to apply for that next semester. I also have written certain Wharton classes into my training plan at work, which provides funding for external training. So classes like leadership, innovation, and operations are part of my yearly training plan. It’s still a big commitment in terms of time and money, but all of these things help.
Applicability of Classes
Right off the bat, the leadership and management classes were immediately useful. I keep Prof. Michael Useem’s list of things to think about as a leader on my desk. I use the statistical modeling we learned in Regression Analysis to look at our production and how things are done to identify areas for improvement – and I have taken immediate corrective measures. My Operations classes have been helpful to find chokepoints and ways to overcome them. And classes like Negotiations are useful too because I now have better strategies to find mutual wins.
Every weekend is a highlight. You never know who you’ll sit next to at lunch and get to know better. You start out bonding with your learning team, but you get to know more students at meals and group dinners. We have a Facebook page for our class, where we share information. The East-West weekend was an awesome opportunity to meet my West Coast classmates and I intend to look them up when I go to San Francisco. You connect because you’re going through a shared rite of passage.
There isn’t enough time in the day. I’m juggling my job, family, school, and the Reserves. I had to learn to prioritize what is important. I also had to take time to talk to everyone in my life to explain what I am going through and make sure they are on board. My kids are 10 and 8, so I explained how you are always learning in life and that this will create opportunities for our family. This is where being part of an effective learning team helps.
The Commute from Washington, D.C.
The train provides a great opportunity to hang out with Wharton classmates who also live in the D.C. area. We all meet at the same train station and commute together. One student has the tradition of baking a treat with his wife for everyone so we look forward to that on the ride to school. Then we all take the 4:30 pm train home on Saturdays after classes end. We sit in the café car and relax. That’s when a lot of business opportunities or ideas for partnerships are discussed. It’s a good two hours of bonding time.
*GI Bill®” is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.
Posted: October 11, 2016