One unique aspect of Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives is the opportunity for students to take classes on either coast. They can immerse themselves in the innovation ecosystem of Silicon Valley at our San Francisco campus, or they can come to our historic University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia. Students choose one campus for their first year, but then have the flexibility in their second year to take electives or spend an entire term at either campus. This also means students can make twice the number of connections. We asked four students who are taking advantage of this option to tell us more about their experiences. Here is what they said.
Megan MacLellan, WG’20
Business Process Manager, Pratt & Whitney
First-Year Wharton Campus
Auburn University, BS in Chemical Engineering
Why Flexibility Matters: Geographic flexibility was very important to me in an EMBA program because my husband is active duty in the Navy. As a military spouse, there was a possibility that we would be reassigned in a two-year period. When I started the program, I was living in Connecticut so the Philadelphia campus was a perfect fit.
Second Year Courses: I transferred to the San Francisco campus for my second year when my husband was reassigned to Seattle. Because of how the semesters fell in conjunction with his move dates, I temporarily lived in San Francisco while he was relocating. Spending a little over a month locally in San Francisco gave me the opportunity to connect with my new classmates and get acquainted with the campus and the area.
Transitioning to a New Campus: It’s always a little scary to be a newcomer, but everyone was so welcoming! The staff went above and beyond by preparing the students for our arrival. They included a quick bio and photo in a communication package so everyone would be able to identify us and welcome us to the West Coast. The students were eager to include me on the student-organized Slumber Party camping trip in yurts. Friends and families gathered to enjoy burgers and s’mores around fire-pits. It was a lot of fun! The support that the staff, faculty and students extended made the transition to the West Coast seamless.
Bicoastal Benefits: Getting to know an additional 115 classmates is the biggest benefit of the bicoastal program. Having so many diverse perspectives enriches the learning experience. Another benefit is the cultural aspect. Having lived in the South and East Coast all of my life, it’s great to experience the West Coast.
Harini Sridharan, WG’20
Senior Manager, Analytics, MoneyGram International
First-Year Wharton Campus
Anna University, BS in Electrical and Electronics Engineering; Dartmouth College, Master’s Engineering Management
Why Flexibility Matters: I live in Dallas, so the bicoastal flexibility of Wharton’s EMBA program stood out. The two campuses are equidistant for me and I valued that flexibility because I wanted to take classes on both coasts to get different perspectives and have greater options for electives. I decided to spend my first year in Philadelphia, although I took a one-week Global Modular Course on the Design of Web-based Products in San Francisco.
Second Year Courses: I’m spending a full term in San Francisco and then I will finish the program back in Philadelphia. This allows me to take both the Fintech and International Corporate Finance electives, as both are relevant to my payments industry. The best way to do that was to come to San Francisco for the Corporate Finance course and then take Fintech back in Philadelphia in my final term.
Bicoastal Benefits: The flexibility is amazing. You can take whatever classes are most interesting to you and make more connections and friends.
Highlight from the West Coast: When I arrived in San Francisco, everyone was so welcoming and friendly. I had my birthday a few weeks ago and some of the students threw me a surprise birthday party! The Advanced Corporate Finance course by economist Elizabeth Bailey has also been a highlight. We worked through 10 case studies and had three guest speakers, and all of this highlighted the nuances in valuing mergers and companies.
Jing Zhang, WG’20
Senior Engineering Program Manager, Schlumberger Technologies
Sugar Land, TX
First-Year Wharton Campus
Beihang University, BE and Master’s Management Information Systems
Why Flexibility Matters: Living in Texas, Wharton’s bicoastal program was very attractive. I decided to start on the West Coast because I work in software technology management and there are more students from technology backgrounds in San Francisco. However, I planned to get exposure to both coasts before graduation.
Second Year Courses: I’m spending the summer term on the Philadelphia campus. Some of the electives I’m interested in taking are offered on the East Coast this term, so I’m able to take more electives by taking those classes now and can choose other electives later when I’m back in San Francisco.
Bicoastal Benefits: It’s great to make connections with both cohorts because the dynamics are a bit different on each coast in terms of professional backgrounds. There are more people working for technology companies on the West Coast, and I’m meeting a lot of people in financial services and private equity on the East Coast. It’s also interesting to experience Penn’s large campus in Philadelphia.
Other Opportunities to Engage with Both Coasts: First-year students start out together in Philadelphia for Orientation Week and later spend a week together in San Francisco for a marketing simulation course. For Global Business Week, I’ll be going to Sweden and Finland with students from both coasts. And I’m planning to do a one-week GMC in China with executive students from both coasts and possibly some full time MBA students.
Highlight from the East Coast: The Advanced Corporate Finance class has been a highlight with Prof. Itay Goldstein. Four West Coast students formed a team, critiquing the Harris Seafood case, which was presented by a team from the East Coast. Based on different assumptions, the teams came to opposite conclusions. While there are no right answers, we learned a lot about building a case for different approaches.
Hemachandar (Chandu) Tanukonda, WG’20
Engineering Manager, Intel Corp.
First-Year Wharton Campus
Visvesvaraya Technological University, BS in Electronics and Communication; University of Texas at Arlington, Master’s Electrical Engineering
Why Flexibility Matters: I wanted a top EMBA program and, coming from Arizona, access to San Francisco was attractive. However, I knew I wanted to experience a term in Philadelphia to interact with both cohorts.
Second Year Courses: I’m spending the summer term in Philadelphia and taking Strategic Equity Finance, Finance of Buyout and Acquisition, Innovation and Strategic Brand Management. I’m used to spending every other weekend commuting to school, so going to Philadelphia instead of San Francisco doesn’t change that dynamic. It’s been a pretty easy transition.
Bicoastal Benefits: I’m enjoying getting to know my Philadelphia classmates and learning how they approach business problems from their diverse backgrounds. I learn a lot from my classmates about their industries and also share my own experiences in manufacturing and quality. By coming to the other coast, I’m expanding my network and perspective.
Other Opportunities to Engage with Both Coasts: I took a one-week GMC, Design and Manufacturing in Japan, which included students from both coasts. And I’m planning to go to China for Global Business Week.
— Meghan Laska
Posted: August 13, 2019