After working as a veterinarian and launching a startup, Dr. Matthew Jurikson transitioned into the animal health industry and is now based in Philadelphia as director of scientific services U.S. at Royal Canin. When he decided to formalize his business education with an MBA, the alumni of Penn Veterinary School came to Wharton.
A Unique Career Background
After graduating from Penn’s Veterinary School and working as a veterinarian for a couple of years, I had the idea to create my own pet care center. I wrote a business plan and got a loan to build the business. It was designed as a competitor to some of the big box pet stores combined with a top veterinary clinic. Unfortunately, we opened in the crashing economy of 2009 and the pet store portion struggled, forcing us to close after a little over a year. Through that process, I discovered that I have a strong interest in the business side of the pet and veterinary industries. That’s when I decided to go into the animal health industry and was fortunate to get a job at Royal Canin. I started out as a scientific services veterinarian, and then moved into management positions with a greater focus on overall strategy. I wanted an MBA to complement my entrepreneurial and business experience with a formal business education.
When I looked at MBA programs, a few things were important. First, I wanted to go to a top school. Second, I wanted to be with colleagues who would push me to grow and develop. I looked at Wharton’s full-time program, but it wasn’t ideal because I needed to continue working. Wharton’s EMBA program was the best of both worlds. I could get the full Wharton MBA experience, but also maintain my career.
Applicability of Classes and Environment
The classes are very applicable to my job. As a result, I’ve been able to redesign our organizational chart, analyze return on investment in different areas, and assess day-to-day operations. I also have gained new perspectives on marketing and sales decisions. The entrepreneurship and finance classes have significantly increased my knowledge in these two areas.
After taking the core classes, you can choose your electives. I didn’t want to take courses where I already had knowledge and strengths. Instead, I designed the program to expand my knowledge and fill in gaps. So many of my classes focus on new areas for me.
This program attracts high achievers, and everyone has a vested interest in each other’s success. The diversity of experiences that make up the class provides part of the educational value. The program is designed to foster camaraderie, which starts in our learning teams. There is a lot of emphasis on teamwork which is important in today’s business environment. The faculty at the school are world class and willing to help and coordinate around our intense schedules.
The Value of the Residency Requirement
Even though I live in the Philadelphia area and could easily commute home, I see great value in the residency requirement of this program. Having to stay over with my classmates on Friday night sets the tone for the weekend and lets me fully engage in school. The moment I set out for class on Friday morning, everything else stops and I am able to focus on my classes and colleagues. I don’t think I could build the same degree of relationships if I commuted home after classes on Friday night. This is a key differentiator of Wharton’s program.
Finding Work-Life Balance
This is a very rigorous program that demands a lot of time. However, we all find ways to balance the other aspects of our lives. I got married in November of my first year at Wharton and we are expecting our first baby this fall. I know it won’t be easy to juggle everything, but we are planning ahead. You can’t be a successful leader if you can’t balance your life.
It’s helpful that Wharton is welcoming of families. My wife has attended multiple events at Wharton, including Partners Day when she could sit in on classes. She really enjoys coming to campus. I also try to share what I’m learning with her so it is something we are doing together. I wouldn’t be able to do this program without her support. We see it as an investment in our future.
Posted: October 31, 2016