Category Archives: Wendy

The First Step

If you are considering pursuing your MBA and you are looking at schools in the Triad/Triangle area, I highly recommend attending the upcoming MBA Open House at Elon on July 15.

About a year and a half ago, I started my quest to find the right MBA program.  I researched every school in the area and signed up for many of the open house programs.  The Elon MBA Open House was the first I attended in April of last year, and I have to honestly say that it was two hours that changed the direction of my life.

On the Elon website, you’ll read a lot about the program structure and classes, and also that Elon focuses on “Engaged Learning”, which all sound great, right?  I don’t think you can really get a full appreciation of what this means unless you experience it.  Part of the open house includes attending “mock” class, just to give you an idea of how the professors interact with the students.  Also, several current students attend to answer questions and give you a better idea of what to expect (FYI, I will be one of those students).  By the end of the open house, you will walk away with a much better understanding of what it means to attend the MBA program at Elon.

After attending that open house last April, I knew that Elon was the right place for me.  Almost immediately, I began studying for the GMAT and sent in my application to attend.
If you decide to check out the open house, it is on the evening of July 15 from 5:30 to 7:30 in the Koury Business Center.  Check the MBA website for registration.  Hope you see you there!

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Stepping Back to Get Ahead

I am almost at the end of my first year in the MBA program at Elon, and while I’m somewhat envious of my friends that just graduated, I do still really enjoy attending class and working through all of the new challenges presented by each professor.

Last semester in my Organizational Behavior class, our group project involved dissecting a fictitious company plagued with issues.  We worked as “consultants” hired to analyze all of the company’s problems and then introduce the solutions to our class and professor.  Working from the perspective of consultants allowed us an objective view into the major issues that were causing the company to miss the key objectives.

It seems that in the workplace, sometimes being in the situation makes it more difficult to recognize the root of the situation.  My biggest takeaway from this project is really understanding how to step back and rationally analyze a situation that may be impeding a company from performing to expectations.

This week, I began my first summer session course which meets two nights per week and only for five weeks.  So far it is manageable; however, as a student on the career track (traditionally one class per 10 week long semesters), I’ve developed a better appreciation of those students on the fast track, taking two or three classes each semester!  More to come next month…

Classmates to Friends

Group work is an instrumental part of most businesses and therefore a very important part of the MBA program.

I’m at the end of my third class, and so far all three classes have incorporated some level of group work.  Because my job involves a lot of cross-functional team work, I was not sure how much I might personally gain from all of the required group activity.  I have quickly found there are many great benefits to working together with my fellow students.

To start, it’s been great meeting people with diverse backgrounds and experiences.  I’ve worked in groups with accountants, engineers, human resource managers and even recent college graduates.  Some people are in manufacturing and others are in banking, education and construction.  It’s always interesting to hear all of the different perspectives that people bring with their varied backgrounds.  I’ve spent my entire career working in the CPG Industry, so a new point of view is refreshing and educational.

In my most recent class, I’m in a group with several people who are about to graduate from the program.  They’ve really helped me learn more about the school and program.  For example, I was torn on which class to take this summer and which to take this fall.  I asked a few of the “seasoned” students their advice on which class to take when (summer session is more condensed) and they guided me in the right direction.

Most of all, I’ve enjoyed the friendships that I’ve already made and really look forward to working through this program with my new friends and those I will make in the future!

Professional Payoff

When I registered for my first MBA class at Elon, I contemplated how many classes I would need to complete before I could apply my newly acquired knowledge and skills to an assignment at work.  I expected the courses would be more like building blocks, and over time, they would become applicable to my job.  As it turns out, I was able to successfully use some of my new skills almost immediately!

I just completed Enhanced Managerial Communications and as the course title implies, the class included a lot of business writing and oral presentations.  Prior to taking this class, I considered myself a fairly decent communicator, both with my writing and oral presentations.  But with the practice and constructive criticisms (or “gifts” as Dr. Buck would call them) which I received during this course, I was really able to improve my skills!

For example, this month at work, I was called upon to give presentations in front of about a dozen groups, ranging in size of 15 to more than 100.  Prior to taking this class, I would build a very basic presentation without any “bells or whistles”, I would never practice and all I would worry about was whether or not I communicated my message.  Fortunately for my many audiences, I applied some of my new skills to this project.

Having become very self-aware, I thought beyond just relaying a message and more about how to make a very effective and memorable delivery.  Depending on the audience, I added appropriate levels of attention getting tactics, such as a relevant quote that captured a sense of the topic at hand, a video clip that reinforced the quote and prizes for audience members that participated in the interactive sections of the presentation.

I received very positive feedback from some of the senior leaders in attendance and even received a hand written note from one of our vice-presidents on how well everything went with my presentation!

Learning That Less is More

My undergrad degree is from a very large school, where at the time of my graduation, there were more than 25,000 students enrolled.  Several of my core classes were in auditoriums with more than 300 students.  Needless to say, there was very little student-teacher interaction; they were essentially lecture only classes.

Personally speaking, one of the best parts of the Elon experience is the small class size.  I’m only in my second semester, but so far my largest class has only had 30 students. And this semester, there are only 12 students! The smaller class size has given me the opportunity to get to know my classmates and professors.  It is a very comfortable atmosphere that encourages a free exchange of ideas and opinions.

A good example of this comes from the class in which I am currently enrolled.  A large portion of this class involves oral presentations.  There are not too many people that really look forward to the opportunity to speak in front of a group; however, the small class size has allowed everyone to become better acquainted, creating a very supportive feeling among the students.

This is a nice change from my undergrad years, where it was very easy to feel like a nameless face in the crowd.  I’ve enjoyed getting to know everyone in the program and look forward to the next few years ahead.

In the Beginning…

The first class that each student is required to take in the MBA program is essentially a jump-start back into school.  I’ve been out of college for a few years, well, maybe more than a few years, so I was very thankful for this “introductory” class.

We started with a four-day case study on a hypothetical small business.  Working together in small groups, we analyzed the business and worked through the “twists and turns” presented by the instructors.  At the end of the last day, each group presented a new business structure and goals for the company.  Not only was it beneficial to begin working on case studies again, it was also a great time to meet the other students and form new friendships that I hope will last over the next few years.

Another plus of the first semester is the introduction to the Belk Library and all of the available resources.  Not only do we get access to countless databases, Elon also provides 24/7 help should a student have after-hour questions.  (For those of us with full time jobs, after-hours is a must!)

Winter Break is almost over and I have to admit, I’m eager to start class again!

The Journey Begins

I thought I would start out my first blog with a little background on my journey to get my MBA.  Since graduating with my bachelor’s degree some years ago, I knew a MBA was in my future. I wasn’t sure when or at what school, but it was always a personal goal.

I’ve worked in the consumer goods industry since graduation and if you’ve ever worked in this industry, you know that it is very challenging, demanding and time consuming (I travel 75 percent of the time), so needless to say, it’s been somewhat difficult to find a program that I felt would not take too much time away from my job and my family.

Over the past several years, I’ve looked for programs that would work with my busy schedule, and if you’ve ever looked into MBA programs, you know that most require two classes per week or they are very expensive Executive MBA programs or it is an online program. None of those options would work for me.  Then, I found the Elon MBA program.

I attended the Elon Open House in April and I was sold on the program!  The program was everything I was looking for:  affordable, one class per week option (or two if you choose) and small classes.  The GMAT is a requirement, and honestly, it is not a fun process but it’s one of those things you just have to do.

I am very happy to say that I was accepted into the program and started my first semester this year!

More to come on my first semester in my next blog.