Alumni Panel Recap: My employees told me 'You're different.'

Every preview luncheon features a panel of alumni who offer their personal insight into the benefits, challenges and experience of the Neeley Executive MBA program. Here are some of our favorite soundbites from the April 6 luncheon.

The panel

Kenneth Bradley, ’15
Vice President of International Sales & Operations, Allied Electronics
Kenneth saw the growth and strategic thinking of a colleague who graduated from the program in 2011 (Frank Cantwell), so he jumped at the opportunity when it came up for him.

Kathy Novak-Johnson, ’12
Director of Customer Experience, BNSF Railway
Kathy wanted to build on her background in aerospace engineering in a program that brought all the strategic pieces together.

Jarie Bradley, ’15
Chief People Officer, City Square
Jarie had just been invited to join the executive team in her nonprofit, and wanted to sharpen her leadership skills.

April panel

ON CHOOSING NEELEY

KATHY:
“I knew alumni from the program, and they had such good insights, and they had this sparkle in their eyes when they talked about it. Then when I started getting to know some of the faculty, they had that same sparkle. Other people I knew from other programs lacked that zeal.”


ON GROWING AS A LEADER

JARIE:
“I’m more agile, more self-aware, and able to build coalitions more effectively. That’s huge in my line of work. I just had a community event that involved the Dallas mayor and Starbucks, and there were implications with ICE, employment, poverty, etc. I pulled all the tools I got from the program to make sure everyone’s interests were heard.”

KENNETH:
“It’s a source of confidence. You worry about belonging in the room, but after this program you realize, ‘I DO belong here.’ You augment yourself; you become stronger as a whole. After graduation, my employees came and told me ‘You’re different. We enjoy working for you more now.’”

ON BEING CONNECTED

KATHY:
“Last week I was in the cafeteria deciding what to get, and my colleague who is a 2014 alum came up to me and asked “Don’t you miss school?” and we talked about how we both really missed it, being around all those different perspectives. But you can call them and pick up right where you left off.”

KENNETH:
“Of course the instructors are great, really engaging, but I learned even more from my classmates, and I continue to learn from them. Any time, you can call on your network for any of those special skill sets you need. If I had known that value going in as a natural introvert, I would have dived in earlier.”

JARIE:
“I’m conducting projects with two classmates right now. It’s invaluable how much they mean to you – they become part of your family. There’s really a grieving period after the program.”


ON ROI

KATHY:
“In accounting class I learned something I applied Monday morning when I took it to the accounting VP. I wouldn’t have learned that without this class.”

KENNETH:
“Before, I would not have been asked to lead something like a strategic initiative, but after the program, I was asked to lead the next evolution of strategy for the company. I spent six months preparing, and I presented to the board in England.  Thereafter, they offered me the opportunity to work abroad in London for three years.”

JARIE:
“I’m an HR professional. My president came to me near the end of the program and said ‘We’re happy with your HR work; we want you to do some work with workforce development.’ So now my role encompasses both HR and workforce development. We’ve experienced 25 percent growth, we have new sponsorships. And that’s definitely due to the skills I got from the program.”


ON FINDING THE TIME

KATHY:
“You’re asking ‘Is this a good time for me?’ It’s never a good time for anything. You’ve already made the emotional investment in being here today. All the people in this program did it. You can, too."

The panel shared much more insight that we didn’t list here. Join us for the next preview luncheon and don’t miss a word.

This panel discussion followed an engaging talk by Dr. Kosnik on negotiating support for the program from your family and employer. Read that recap here.