By Omar Sofradzija
Spiros Assimacopolous and Kyle Krause do many things well. But for the pair of Broad College Executive MBA (EMBA) students there’s been one factor that’s been the foundation for all their other successes: balance.
Both Spartans cited their ability to keep family, work, and study in healthy sync as crucial to their success as students, and their achievements landed them on the list of the nation’s “Best & Brightest” EMBAs for the Class of 2018 as ranked by Poets & Quants, a leading graduate business education news Web site.
Now in its fourth year, P&Q’s Best and Brightest “honors 100 EMBAs who ‘personify excellence’ at the world’s top executive MBA programs. It is a call that comes from all walks of business and life. They include the usual finance, marketing, tech, and operations wizards – not to mention CEO’s, filmmakers, pilots, television producers, surgeons, and entrepreneurs,” wrote Jeff Schmitt, a P&Q senior writer. “These titles and roles, however, barely do these graduates justice.”
Assimacopolous, 44, of Brownstown, Michigan, worked on his EMBA while acting as president and CEO of Michiganbread.com, a metro Detroit restaurant industry supplier. He is a husband and a father to a daughter and son.
“As my school and professional workload increased, I spent less and less quality time with my family. My wife and I decided that at whatever the cost of inconvenience, we would spend a family weekend together each month to recharge and reconnect,” he wrote. “It was a great learning tool for my children on how to support one another and commit to the principle of balance, especially when things get tough.”
“Time is our most precious resource,” Assimacopolous said. “With the support of my family, I was able to meet my commitments at home, school, and work.”
Jeremy Davis, associate director of the Broad College EMBA program, called Assimacopolous “a natural leader in the class. He had such a calming nature that when he spoke and contributed in class it was poignant, relevant, and the class was better for it. He didn’t flaunt the fact that he was a CEO and knew everything about everything. He was there to learn from not only the faculty, but from his classmates.”
Of his time at the EMBA program, Assimacopolous said “learning is a rush. Learning is a room with a bunch of smart and successful people is even a bigger rush.” He added that “the value of being a part of the Spartan family cannot be quantified. This culture of solidarity and pride really is the secret sauce at MSU.”
Krause, 31, of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, also juggles career and family: he is an engineering manager at Peterson Spring, a metal products manufacturer in metro Detroit, as well as a husband and father to two young sons. He called his pursuit of an EMBA “22 months of juggling.”
“With two young kids at home, and a loving and supportive wife, my priorities lie with them,” he said. “Being able to balance a demanding yet satisfying career, family life, and graduating from the MSU EMBA program with honors gives me pride that I can achieve personal, professional, and academic goals concurrently without losing quality in any of them.”
Greg Janicki, director of the Broad College EMBA program, called Krause “wicked smart” with “a deeper desire to make things better, to improve himself and his organization.”
“During our 20-month program, Kyle consistently worked to wring every ounce of value out of the program … He and his team benefited from his curiosity, his vulnerability, and his desire to develop and contribute. He is a great example of a smart guy who knows he is never too smart.”
Krause said the biggest myth of going back to school is “it will be tough to get back into the mindset of academia after being out in industry for so long. The EMBA program is structured so much differently than a traditional undergrad. They make it really easy to come right after work on Friday and learn with your peers, who are all going through the same professional challenges you are.”
“Learning is a lifelong endeavor, and the structure of the program makes it easy as possible to continue this endeavor,” Krause said.