Since 1964, the Broad College’s Executive MBA program has prepared more than 5,000 business leaders across industries to take their high potential and turn it into high performance. On Aug. 5-6, the latest batch of EMBA students made their introduction to Michigan State University at the program’s orientation. The Class of 2024 consists of 123 students from 78 organizations and 11 states.
“You made a great choice to invest in yourself and your future,” Cheri DeClercq, assistant dean for MBA programs, said while kicking off the event. “We’re confident this program will be challenging and rewarding.”
Broad’s EMBA program is designed for working professionals who want to pursue an advanced degree and escalate their career. The 20-month weekend program is offered in two formats: in person in East Lansing or Troy, Michigan, and Flex, a hybrid format launched in 2020.
A focus of the program is to build winning teams. To that end, as soon as orientation begins, students are placed on teams that will last the length of the EMBA experience. Activities and topics at orientation are centered on team building, many of which were facilitated by leadership and consulting firm Humanergy.
“We’ve been brought in with the challenge of getting teams to feel like they’ve been together for 10 weeks when they’ve only been together for 10 hours,” David Wheatley, principal at Humanergy, said. The firm has been a partner with the EMBA program for 25 years and is embedded throughout the student journey to provide coaching and assistance for teams as program demands ramp up.
The newly formed EMBA teams practiced sharing positive and constructive feedback with their peers through various exercises, boosting communication and active listening skills. In addition, they were guided on disciplines to establish team structure, accountability, balance and engagement, ultimately setting the tone for productive and efficient interactions going forward.
Throughout the two-day orientation, time was also allocated for group activities, networking opportunities, a scavenger hunt and an alumni panel discussion. Three recent graduates — and one second-year EMBA student — shared advice and real-world outcomes from their time in the program.
“I took what I learned on the weekends and applied it on Monday — and that’s not a tagline,” Jason Lee (MBA ’22), senior manager at Deloitte, said. Thanks to the EMBA program, Lee was able to take his technical expertise in IT and enter the boardroom, helping make strategic decisions.
Similarly, second-year Flex student Shelby Kuhlman said she leveraged the program’s world-class faculty to prepare for a different role at her current company, Stellantis. “I was saying things with confidence [in the interview] and got a promotional experience, and I can credit the program for that,” she said.
The panelists also encouraged the Class of 2024 to make the most of the program and stay motivated.
“This is a playground,” Al Makke (MBA ’22), engineering manager at Schaeffler, said. “You have 20 months to learn about yourself, so go for it.”
Small business owner and real estate broker Jenny Abro (MBA ’21) added, “It’s great to take a minute and ask yourself what are you doing here and commit to that. For me, I wanted to take one thing from each semester and apply it to my work right away, and coming back to that helped me realize that goal.”
Communication and time management were key themes brought up by the panelists as well. “Communicate, make sure you know what’s being asked of you,” Lee said. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. . . . The worst thing you can do is go into the week not being clear on a question you had.”
Makke added, “The teams that did well were honest with themselves. If you know what’s coming, it’s clear and you know how to perform.”
As DeClercq summed it up, “It comes down to three pieces: your ability to learn and to be agile, your ability to be emotionally intelligent leaders and influencers and your ability to be strategic and get things done. Good news: that’s what Spartans are known for.”