Every preview luncheon features a panel of alumni who offer their
personal insight into the benefits, challenges and experience of the TCU Neeley
Executive MBA program. Here are some of our favorite soundbites from a recent
Amy Ladd, ’15
Lieutenant-Patrol Bureau at the Fort Worth Police Department
Fourteen years into her career
with the police department, Amy made first level supervisor and realized she
didn't have the confidence to lead her new team. She joined the TCU EMBA
program to gain that confidence through acquiring new skillsets. She never
imagined she would also gain a new perspective, new opportunities, and the
ability to speak a whole new “language” in business.
Marcos Zamorano, ’12
Global Franchise Director, Laser Surgery at Alcon
Marcos had always wanted an MBA,
but steady advancement over 11 years at Alcon made him think he could continue
moving up on his own – until a general manager position in central America
changed his mind. A team across nine different countries with complex business
environments made him realize he needed a broader understanding of business
administration as well as more in-depth understanding in key areaslike
finance, labor laws and economics.
Felipe Gutierrez, ’17
Vice President of Development & Engagement at One Safe
Felipe worked for AT&T
18 and a half years, doing labor relations as well as state and national
projects with Communication Workers of America. He entered the program
intending to validate the work experience he had – and instead discovered a new
calling, pivoting to One Safe Place, a crime prevention agency with a focus on serving
victims of domestic violence.
How did you transform as a leader?
Your strategic mindset and your ability to engage in conflict is a
completely different approach than before you started the program. I met Amy
years ago, and I approached her about a use of force report, on PD, in Fort
Worth, that ACLU had brought to my attention and they wanted to take action. And
Amy educated me on the report; she was already educating the new police
trainees on this report, so we were able to engage in that direct conflict
conversation, not only with the people that were bringing me the report, but
really connecting them to an audience that they never had access to, which was
the police department.
That development piece, it really changes your path in life and
the way you approach business, the way I approach my nonprofit role. I would
challenge you to always meet somebody that thinks differently than you, and sit
down and have a conversation with them, because together you can come up with a
I was able to become a better leader, to develop people, to think
about how to support others, to keep advancing. The other part that I do
believe I evolved a lot, was my strategic vision. I became more aware about how
important the strategy is for a company to be successful in a particular arena
or field. When you go into different geographies and different markets, the
strategy you have as a global company may not be exactly the same in the
different local markets where you compete. That also made me a better cross
functional leader, being able to understand what are the different things that
the different groups do for the company and appreciate their work.
How much time do I need; will I be
able to breathe?
I worked Fridays and Saturdays, even though I'd worked at AT&T
for 18 and a half years, I'm single, no children, TCU is down the street. But
my managers changed all the time, and I had to sit down and talk to them, three
times throughout the program, to ask them for personal favors, because HR would
not approve my time. It was tough for me. Everybody's situation's different.
People with families, their time is different, but the one thing I will tell
you is, read your material, set time aside, unfortunately it takes a couple of
hours every single night. If you're a fast reader, that's great, but I'm just
telling you, be prepared and don't take anything new on [outside of work]; be
committed to the program. That's the most important thing.
I was a new manager at work, I was a single mom, I didn't have
someone at home, cooking dinner, doing laundry, helping with homework. All that
on top of studying at a minimum 15 to 20 hours a week. I learned really quickly
that you do have to read the material. You need to be able to diagram the
material; you need to be able to explain it to your class. I think the
distinction for me, is no business in my undergrad. I had a lot more to learn.
I just found ways to set aside time. I woke up every morning at
5:00 AM, it gave me two hours before my kiddo woke up. I took a case study
every day to lunch. I brought my lunch so I could use that hour of time to
really get involved with that case study, and then make notes, so that at the
end of the week, when it was time for class, I could just go back over all the
notes to prepare me for that class day.
Everyone in my teams were fantastically supportive, and they
didn't even attempt to make team meetings, or projects, due around the time
that I had my daughter. And I learned so much from my teammates. The areas that
I thought I was weak in, like finance and accounting, I had amazing team
members that had undergrads in finance and accounting, and they really helped
me. Also, really relying on the faculty, any professor that I called and said,
"Hey, can I meet with you on this?" I always walked away a hundred
percent feeling better about the subject matter.
I think that if you stay committed, and you carve out all those
little nooks and crannies in your schedule, then you're able to get it done.
How did the learning environment help
you develop connections?
The format of the program allows you to get to know all of your
classmates very well. You have all of this teamwork that you need to do with
different participants, and so by the end of the program, you really get to
know all of your classmates, and then if you have any interest in a particular
field, you know that a classmate is a probably a resource for you. I know of
many of my classmates who actually expanded their business, because of the
connections they made through the program and some others actually got new jobs.
I felt like the day I walked in, our close class was very, very
close. I had 27 new best friends. We all worked really well together, but the
program facilitates networking events throughout the program and after and you
have to take advantage of that. Our class always went to Buffalo Brothers after
class – and we learned that from the class before us – and we really grew
together in those very informal casual settings, over beer and pizza, to
debrief what we learned for the week, what we had coming up. We celebrate with
one another, we've grieved with one another. Companies have been built, people
have been hired within our class and we still talk to each other every day. But
the other thing is we all know about 500 people, so with the 27 people in my
class, you're not just networking with them, you're networking with their
network, and that's what really blows it up.
Why should I make that investment?
There’s immediate return on investment, because the things you
learn throughout the program every other week are things that you can actually
experience within your day to day work. Just getting to understand things
better and have a better perspective. And then in some other cases, this program
prepares you for higher responsibility. In my particular case, it was so
direct. I graduated in December of 2012. By February of 2013, so just two
months after, I got an offer to become the general manager for Alcon in Australia.
By that spring I was already living with my family in Sydney and leading the
business for Alcon in that place, over 300 million
revenue, more than 250 people. I know that not everything was related to the
program itself, but I believe it was a core aspect of the decision that the
company took to send me there.
There's several things I've been able to do because of the
program, that I wouldn't have ever been able to do before. I took everything I
learned about learning agility, and I created Corporal Sergeant Leadership, lieutenant
leadership training for the police department that we didn't have before, and
it's really kind of changed the face of the department. I've been able to build
a homeless outreach team. I've moved from being a low-level supervisor to
working in the chief's office and an advisor on project management.
It also gave me the ability to pivot, and in my strategy project I
wrote about a business that I want to create. I never went into this program
thinking I would have the ability to do that. Now it's very real and tangible
to me. There's so much more than just the academic work that you get out of
this program. It really does, at the core, change who you are.
I feel I'm a completely different person today. Just how we
approach problem solving, resolving conflict. Where other people see just
conflict, I see an opportunity to create a better outcome, whether it's
domestic violence, whether it's police work, whether it's relationship building
in the community. It's just a long-term overarching thing that has changed me dramatically.
And it's not business related, but it's still client driven. At the end of the
day, we're preventing homicides, in the domestic violence work that we do, and
in connection with my classmates, in connection with the police department,
that return on investment is slightly different, because we're creating an
outcome in our community.
Any words of advice you would give
to prospective students?
I can remember having conversations with Kevin, and I gave him
every excuse, I think five different excuses as to why I couldn't do the
program, and he would call me and say, "What about this?" Then,
"What about this?" One of my big excuses was, I'm a single mom. I
can't, that's selfish. I can't enter this program as a single mom. He set me up
with two other single moms in the class before me that said, “you can and will
do this.” He helped me overcome every hurdle, and I think for women, we're so
used to being there for husbands or children running a household, we oftentimes
don't put ourselves first, and Kevin really gave me the permission to put
myself first and it was the best thing I ever did.
If you're considering the program, don't delay your decision. It's
easy to always say, "Okay, maybe I'll think about it next year."
There's no perfect time for it. If you feel that you have the support that you
need for the program, and you have the motivation to do it, just go get it done
and you'll soon learn that it was really one of the best things you've done.
If the opportunity is before you, take it. You have an opportunity
to be a change agent, whether it's in business, whether it's in a nonprofit
world, whether it's in your personal life, create that change within you first,
and then go out in the world and do the best work that you can do.
The panel shared much more insight that we didn’t list here. Join
us for the next preview webinar and don’t miss a word.