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 the March 7
Kathy Novak-Johnson, ‘12
Customer Experience, BNSF
Kathy was an
aerospace engineering undergrad who understood the technical side of her work
at BNSF, but wanted a better grasp of the financial and business sides.
Jamie Timmins, CPA, ‘14
First Command Financial Systems
wanted to get her MBA after her undergrad. Once her kids were either in college
or learning to drive, she took advantage of the opportunity to round out her
Rodney Shrader, ‘15
Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Mustang Energy Services
into the EMBA program when he realized he was tired of pretending to understand
what his peers were talking about in board meetings.
ON GROWING AS A
One cool thing is
that every other Monday after class, you’re bringing stuff back to your team. It
made my team stronger and helped me work with our business partners, because I
understood the costs, I could share our vision, I could set expectations with
the team. I was able to bring something to them as a leader, and then apply
that to our customers.
When you spend so
long in your regular role, you tend to get stuck down in the weeds. This
program teaches you how to be strategic, look at something from all the angles,
ask the right questions.
I always thought
I was doing what I needed to do. But the program helped me understand strategic
thought, how to roll out a product. It built a foundation I didn’t have before.
Before, I would just run. Now I step back, look at things, ask questions.
ON TEAM-BASED LEARNING
more teamwork than individual work, and you’re all Type A’s, trying to be the
best. But you get close to the whole class. You learn from them. You learn to
use everyone’s strengths. Then you take that back to your career and apply it
to your teams at work.
I wouldn’t have survived
without teams. Linda and Suzanne put me with really smart people. That part was
so much fun, because you need to lean on other people sometimes. Around the
start of the program, I doubled the size of my business – and I needed help! So
it was great to be able to work alongside these leaders who could give me
When you work on
the job day in, day out, you hear and see the same things all the time. But
when you’re in a diverse group like this class, you start craving that
diversity, seeing different things, learning someone else’s perspective. That
was the exciting part.
ON RETURN ON INVESTMENT
Coming from the
engineering side, I didn’t understand the financial decisions BNSF made. After
the first finance class, I was able to talk to the budget directors, asking all
these questions. You should have seen their faces. Like, “This stuff doesn’t
usually come out of her mouth.” I may not know everything, but I understand
program, you’ll miss it on Fridays. Because you’re getting ROI throughout. My
boss said “Wow, you’re touching a lot of projects on a strategic level.” And
it’s great for your kids to see how hard you work. It’s the best thing you will
Every Monday you
go back to your job, you take something relevant from class. I was in the
middle of negotiating with another company to double mine. I had just got out
of finance class two months before, and now I understood it. Everything was so
relevant. Now I can make change. Now I have a voice.
DO YOU STILL RELY ON YOUR NETWORK?
The network you
build in the program is 28-30 other professionals in different backgrounds,
different businesses, and you get to know those businesses intimately. [Beyond
your class,] the program does really well with tailgates, other events. I’ve
met everybody who’s been an EMBA grad. I didn’t go to school with Jamie, but I
know I can call her anytime. The other day, I met with Casey Gourley at BNSF
[about a project I had], and this morning I walked in to find a three-and-a-half-page
email from him.
HOW DID YOU BALANCE WORK/FAMILY?
Find your stride.
The first step is the hardest. My best friend in the program was an early bird,
so she’d get up at 4 a.m. to study, whereas I’d be up until 2 or 3. You figure
it out. It’s a lot of work, and you will have to turn down some fun things. But
get commitment from your work, your family. It’s worth it. And in the end, it
really goes by fast.
WAS THE CURRICULUM MORE PRACTICAL OR THEORETICAL?
I felt like everything was practical. The very first
Monday after class, I took things back to my team.
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. Robert
Rhodes on international business law. Read the recap from his previous