Autumn Huiatt shares how the resources in Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives have made a positive impact on her career.

Autumn Huiatt, WG’18, came to Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives because of her long-term goal to become a general manager but says that the program is already making a “tremendous” career impact. After starting the program as a controller/director of accounting at Sounds Physicians in Tacoma, WA, she was promoted to controller and vice president of accounting.

We asked Autumn to tell us how Wharton’s EMBA program is adding value to her career so far. This is what she said:

1. Confidence

“Being in this program gave me the confidence to make the case for a promotion. I was able to have a dialogue with our CFO about why the work I was already doing as controller supported a vice president title. Additionally, when a vice president in the accounting team left the firm, I was able to demonstrate how the knowledge I was gaining at Wharton would help me effectively lead the department. That leadership role is equally focused on the technical side and people management, and Wharton has boosted my confidence in both.”

2. Career Advancement

“As vice president of accounting, I am now in charge of administrative functions like setting budgets, reporting out as a cost center, negotiating contracts with service providers, leading teams in goal setting, and supporting the overall accounting organization’s goals. I also lead monthly meetings with my department, represent my department on a committee comprised of all the vice presidents in the organization, and present operating results to our C-suite leaders.”

3. Executive Career Coaching (ECC)

“I used ECC, which is available to all EMBA students, to discuss salary negotiations before I signed my first executive contract. The ECC director at Wharton San Francisco, Steve Hernandez, helped me research the market and find salary ranges, and he coached me on how to ask and respond to questions. I wouldn’t have had that kind of support without Wharton.”

4. Executive Coaching and Feedback Program (ECFP)

“This program is offered through Wharton’s Leadership Center and supports MBA students interested in improving their leadership skills. I was assigned a leadership coach, who has been instrumental in my ability to transition from a more individualized role to an executive role. Changing roles within your same organization changes the relationship dynamic between you and others, even though you personally haven’t changed. I have become a decisionmaker and people who weren’t my peers before are now my peers. My coach and I discuss issues like engaging with the broader team, setting boundaries, and how to inspire followership. I likely wouldn’t have pursued an executive coach without Wharton, and I certainly wouldn’t have found one with this level of experience and knowledge.”

5. Business Knowledge

“I apply a lot of technical knowledge from my classes to my new role. The valuation classes have been particularly helpful when it comes to reviewing the work of valuation specialists for our acquisitions. I’m using concepts from Statistics to run regression analysis on certain revenue drivers to estimate future revenue. I’m also using a lot of the ‘soft skills’ we have learned from our negotiations and public speaking courses. In our Total Leadership course, I learned about balancing the different areas of my life, which highlighted the need to delegate to my team to a greater extent and think outside the box to get everything done.”

6. Broader Perspective

“My perspective is much broader now thanks to my classmates, who all have varied backgrounds. I sit in class with people who have different paradigms which have been built with over 10 years of professional experience — this enables a very rich discussion. And we spend time together outside of class, so we get to know each other’s stories. They also are helping me explore new areas like entrepreneurship. I’m currently working with several classmates on a venture that began as a class project. It started with the question: Why are there fewer females than males in C-suites and technical fields? Through our research, we learned that it has a lot to do with self-confidence, which is developed in the brain prior to age 6. We’re now working on children’s books designed to build confidence in young girls.”

7. Network

“The network you gain at Wharton is very valuable. Because of my classmates’ diverse backgrounds, I can bounce ideas and questions off them and hear about their perspectives and approaches. These conversations are energizing, and I bring that energy back to my job. I recently did a lunch-and-learn for my organization about my time in Uganda for a Global Consulting course, where we focused on ways in which mobile money can aide in eradicating poverty through access to capital.”

8. Women of Wharton

“An important part of that network includes the Women of Wharton (WoW) group, whose members all support each other. We talk about career challenges and opportunities and invite alumnae to share their career journeys. These discussions are very relevant and encouraged me to raise my hand and ask for recognition in an effective way. After my promotion, I shared with the group my experience in both asking for the promotion and my salary negotiation.”

Posted: January 17, 2018

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