Jodie Yorg spent the last decade working on the post-sale side of technology. As an early employee at Yelp, she led increasingly larger groups and became more involved with newer areas like analytics and strategy as director of business operations and strategy. With the goal of becoming a COO, she started thinking about getting an MBA. “In Silicon Valley, it’s not necessary to have an MBA, but I wanted to ensure that I didn’t have any blind spots and that I had as much knowledge as possible to be an effective COO,” she explained.
However, the mother of four young children found it difficult to find time to study for the GMAT. “I used that as an excuse for a while to put off applying. I would say, ‘I couldn’t possibly have time for school. My life is too busy with four kids and a one-hour commute to work.’”
But her desire to address any blind spots and gain a formal business education didn’t go away. The key to moving forward was breaking the application process into reasonable steps. The first step was to set up a time to study for the GMAT. For Jodie, her one-hour commute on San Francisco’s BART train turned out to be the perfect time for uninterrupted study.
After receiving a competitive score on the test, the next step was to research EMBA programs. “I have four kids to put through college. If I was going to spend the money that any EMBA program costs, I wanted to spend it very wisely. After looking at various EMBA programs, I felt that Wharton was the best choice because it is equivalent to the School’s full-time MBA program.”
Recognizing the Gender Gap
Jodie says that the gender gap in MBA programs is a strong motivator to make it work. “In Silicon Valley, I am often asked why I’m doing this program if it’s not necessary for my job and I’m already so busy. But no one asks men that question. Women are not usually encouraged to go back to school because they have family responsibilities that are unseen, yet significant. It also can be uncomfortable to put yourself forward as a woman because that calls attention to yourself. Yet the point of an MBA program is to bring attention to yourself and your new knowledge and skills to advance your career. The reason fewer women are in these programs is a combination of these factors: the guilt we carry for being away from our kids, the lack of encouragement of women, and the fear of drawing attention to ourselves.”
She continued, “It helps to recognize the reasons for the gender gap and know that I am setting a good example for my kids. We talk to our kids about being resilient and hard workers, and this program enables me to lead by example. As hard as it is to be away from them, I am happy to model how to work hard to achieve your goals.”
Recognizing the Value
Seeing the value of the program is also a significant motivator for Jodie. “I can now sit in the room with our controller or CFO when they talk about things like bad debt or write offs, I know what they mean and can debate the impacts of these issues on my group. I can use all this new knowledge to make decisions. I’m also more effective and confident in my job and that is a powerful combination.”
Jodie’s Strategies for Making the EMBA Program Work for Her Family
A mother of four children from 18 months to 11 years, Jodie tends to be the family administrator in her home. “That means that I go grocery shopping, handle doctors’ appointments, sign permission slips, etc. I was worried about how these tasks would get balanced with work and school. Before the program began, my husband and I tracked these administrative tasks to see how they were currently divided. We realized that I was spending 1,500 minutes a month on family administration, and he was doing a fraction of that.”
The solution was to make some changes:
- She extended her au pair’s hours so she helps through dinner, allowing Jodie to spend more time playing with her kids before bedtime.
- She schedules most of her study time after her kids go to bed.
- She uses grocery delivery services.
- She split up the family administration of the kids so that her husband manages tasks for two kids and she handles those tasks for the other two.
- She eliminates or delays tasks that aren’t critical. “Some chores sit for a while like cleaning the house if it means I can spend more time with my kids.”
It also was important to line up a support system for those times when she is at school or studying and her husband is at work. For Jodie, this meant hiring an au pair and having her mother and her husband’s parents available to pinch hit. “This is a huge help, especially on weekends when I’m studying for exams. My husband can take the kids to his parent’s house, where they play with their cousins, while I have a quiet house for studying. If you don’t have family nearby, then make sure you have childcare providers available.”
— Meghan Laska
Posted: October 13, 2017