Denis Sullivan, WG’14, talks about how Wharton’s EMBA program helped him advance his career and shares his advice for incoming students.

Denis Sullivan, WG’14, came to Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives in San Francisco having worked with the same company for most of his career. He watched BioMed Realty grow from a $465-million IPO in 2004 to an $8 billion portfolio, which was taken private in January 2016.

“The company had gone through a tremendous period of growth, and I truly enjoyed going to work every day. Business school was something I always wanted to pursue, but I wasn’t interested in walking away from my current role,” he said.

Wharton’s EMBA program gave him the opportunity to broaden his perspective and diversify his experience without leaving his position. “I developed approaches to problem solving that I will apply on a regular basis throughout my career,” he said. “The ability to take on new projects, to work collaboratively with others, all the while balancing competing priorities are life skills that don’t diminish in value.”

They’ve already proven valuable in helping Denis to advance his career. Since graduating, he has continued to take on new opportunities within BioMed Realty where he currently serves as chief investment officer and sits on the Executive and Investment Committees.

He recently had the opportunity to endorse an employee at his company who is now an EMBA student at Wharton San Francisco. “I saw how much I took away from the program, and that has made it very easy to recommend Wharton and the clear value proposition that the investment provides,” he said.

Advice for Incoming Students

Denis enjoying sharing his experience and the value he took from the EMBA program with prospective applicants outside of his company too. He regularly attends Wharton EMBA admissions events to speak about his experience as a student and offer some firsthand insight into what’s it like to be in the program.

Here are four tips he has for new EMBA students:

1. Be prepared to change your routine

Everyone enters the program with a lot of enthusiasm and energy, but you can’t just fit this program into your current lifestyle. The choice to join the program is based upon seeking out a level of change moving forward. You have to be ready to change your daily routine – and your family’s routine – to make this work.

2. Improve your time management skills and revisit your priorities

The world doesn’t stop when you walk onto campus. I had a two-year-old and six-week-old at home when I began the program, and you quickly learn by necessity to improve your time management skills and prioritize. All of this is going to take time and effort. You need to have a level of trust from all of your relationships that you will make this work, and that often comes down to scheduling and communication.

3. Look to classmates for support

Everybody is here to improve their understanding of some level of theoretical concepts and best practices, and the relationships you develop within the program are a big part of putting context around that learning process. Everyone wants to excel, but the program is about collaboration, not competition.

4. Take advantage of new opportunities

The program creates many opportunities for students to step out of their own bubbles, and the travel associated with the Global Strategy course is a big part of that experience. My role before Wharton wouldn’t have taken me through a steel manufacturing plant in China, or given me the opportunity to walk along the Great Wall. The ability to see new things, and to spend time on industries and places outside of the norm proved to be meaningful beyond measure.

Posted: September 1, 2017

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