“My commitment to diversity is driven by the opportunities that I have been given and the position that I currently have. I feel a great responsibility and obligation to lift as I climb.”

As a student in Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives, Edmund Reese, WG’14, a vice president at American Express in New York City, made a point to share classroom learnings with his coworkers in the office. It’s a practice he’s continued as an alumnus each time he audits a class.

“I’ve brought back presentations and given trainings to my group that replicate a class. I’ve even assigned books from Wharton faculty at work,” he said. “I’m committed to continuous learning and it permeates throughout my organization.”

That’s why Edmund was quick to take advantage of the unique opportunity that Wharton EMBA alumni have to audit electives for free for life. “Once I knew about this benefit as a student, I knew I would be coming back to audit classes. Continuous learning is a mantra I live by, and this opportunity is a tremendous benefit of Wharton’s EMBA program,” he said.

The broad range of electives — a selection that changes each year based on student interest — gives EMBA alumni a second chance to take a class that didn’t fit into their schedule as students or to learn about new areas in business that have emerged or evolved since their time in the program.

“You may want to learn new methodology or more about topics that you don’t have access to in your current position. Or you may want a refresh on what you already know, or learn about a topic that you don’t deal with every day yet is very relevant,” Edmund said.

“I’ve come back to campus to take statistics classes, which are increasingly important given the critical nature of data analytics for businesses. I have also taken a refresher course on corporate finance.”

But it’s not just the classes that have brought Edmund back to campus — it’s also the connections he makes with professors and current students and the valuable perspectives that they share.

“If I could go back to Wharton for an hour every day, I would because it stimulates fresh thinking to tackle challenges. And just having that lifeline with professors about challenges faced at work, whether it’s a conversation after class or via email, is amazing,” he said.

Reaching Underrepresented Minorities

Wharton’s commitment to diversity is another key factor that attracted Edmund to the EMBA program. “Most people aren’t dealing with homogenous groups in the workplace or a homogenous set of customers in their markets, so diversity at school helps us learn how to connect with different people at work,” he said.

“The program recognizes the benefits associated with diversity in terms of the different perspectives and innovative ideas brought to the table that you don’t always get with homogenous groups. The administration and admissions team for Wharton’s EMBA program pay special attention to gender, ethnic, and professional backgrounds to compile a group that can reap the benefits of diversity and elevate the collective intelligence.”

Edmund has been active in helping Wharton to do that. He recently hosted an event at American Express with Wharton for diverse potential students. Alumni and members of the company’s employee resource groups talked to those who attended about approaches to sponsorship and the diverse culture at Wharton. Edmund also invites diverse candidates to American Express once a year to meet representatives of the EMBA program and learn more about it.

His involvement with the Wharton community also extends into other academic programs. Edmund talks to members of the African American MBA Association at Wharton, identifying and connecting with diverse students who have high potential to be strong prospective candidates for finance internships. He has also hosted events for high-achieving students from diverse backgrounds who are rising high school seniors, as well as networking receptions with the full-time MBA program for diverse prospective applicants.

“It is my personal belief that Wharton is the pinnacle and therefore a notable part of ‘my story’ when I speak with diverse students and young professionals. So it became a natural fit to participate in events and ideate on more effective ways to reach underrepresented minorities,” Edmund said.

“My commitment to diversity is driven by the opportunities that I have been given and the position that I currently have. I feel a great responsibility and obligation to lift as I climb.”

Meghan Laska

Posted: June 21, 2017

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