Alumni Profiles: The EMBA as a Career Advancer

There are all types of leaders, with all types of personalities and career goals, and the Executive MBA program offers a personalized experience to fit each of them. 

Jeff Montgomery, class of 2013, knew he could do more in his company, and wanted to move up faster, but knew he needed the credibility of an MBA to get there. Jeff works in banking, and after the financial crisis in 2008, felt he had hit a road block in his career. While his employer didn’t sponsor him in the Executive MBA program, Jeff found it worth the personal investment thanks to the financial and personal ROI, including lifelong friendships. Today, Jeff is a branch president at Cendera Bank.

Here’s a look at the program from Jeff’s perspective.

Jeff Montgomery

Return on Investment

It didn't take until the end of the program to see the ROI. I was immediately a better employee. I had my best-ever year at that company while I was doing the MBA, because it untaps all this potential that you don't realize you have until you're put into a pressure cooker.

From a financial ROI, I make more now per year than I paid for the entire program. So it had an immediate benefit, and I paid off every penny of my MBA in three years.

Developing as a Leader

We all have a unique leadership style. You've got to develop something that's genuine to who you are, so the coaching in the program is so critical. I'll never forget my coach telling me at one point in the process, when I was struggling, she said, “Well you know, Jeff, you just might have the ability to tolerate a little bit more chaos than other people.”

It was kind of an “aha” moment. I was trying to change who I was instead of just sticking with my core values, and being who I am.

As a leader, I'm not a dictator. I'm more of a collaborator. So, how do you lead a team from a collaborative point of view? I found a way that works for me, but it's not the only right way. It's the way that I can lead, and be authentic. I don't think I would have ever developed that self-confidence to be exactly who I am, and be the leader that I can be, without that trial-by-error process.

Building Lifelong Relationships

Another part of the ROI is the relationships you make. I'm leaving on a ski trip with half the guys in my class on Friday. That’s six or seven years after we started the program. So, the program would have been worth every penny to me, just for those relationships. I would do it over without hesitation.

Finding the Time

Several hundred people went before you and all figured it out. So there's a way to make it happen. My work made me come in early and stay late on the weeks that we had Friday class. That actually turned out to be a huge blessing, because I used that extra time in the morning, and in the afternoon or evening, to do all my school work. If I'm sitting there in the bank, I might as well use that time – there weren't any customers before nine and after five.

My wife and I had a kid while I was in the program, and while I might not suggest it, we still made it work. Your spouse will amaze you with what they can get done; your growth is imperative to them, too. And your kids are resilient. So if you have a kid right now, who’s in that age range, that you think, “I can't imagine all that time being away from them,” it's a short period of life if you really think about it. I don't think there's an age group that you can't make this work.

The Bottom Line: Unlocking Your Potential

If you want to talk about unlocking your potential as an employee, or as a business owner, as whatever, I believe that we all have more potential than we're realizing. It takes some kind of outside force. Whether it's the TCU program, or some pivotal person in your life, or whatever it is, there's some outside agent of change that can unlock your potential to make you a better employee, a better employer, a better spouse, a better parent, whatever it is, and I found that the TCU EMBA program did that for me.