While classroom and applied learning are key parts of Wharton’s EMBA program, Laura Rivera, WG’18, found the network to be just as valuable.

Named a “Best and Brightest” EMBA student in 2018 by Poets & Quants, Laura Rivera, WG’18, came to Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives to accelerate her career in finance and business development at Johnson & Johnson. “I’ve worked at J&J for 12 years and had no intention of leaving because I love my job. This program was a way to get more external experience and exposure to different perspectives,” she said.

She also had support from her company, where there is a strong Wharton EMBA alumni network, including J&J’s CEO Alex Gorsky, WG’96. “When you get a Wharton MBA, you aren’t just getting the best MBA in the world. You’re also getting instant connections to anyone you could ever want to work with in your entire life through the Wharton network,” Laura said. “This is a big investment, but the payoff is huge. The knowledge and network will benefit you for the rest of your life.”

Here are six aspects of Wharton’s EMBA program that Laura said helped her connect with classmates and build her network throughout the program:

1. Learning Teams

“The structure of the program allows for bonds to form quickly and deeply. We start out with a full week together, working in small learning teams that become our Wharton nuclear family. You take the same first-year classes with your learning team, so you work on projects and assignments together.”

2. Collaborative Mindset

“Wharton selects people who are smart and interesting – people who are willing to share what they know and help others. EMBA students are interested in building relationships. We’re all here to make friends and connections rather than competing over grades or jobs.”

3. Social Events

“The program organizes group meals and special events, but we also have a social chair in each class who coordinates additional gatherings. Those range from happy hours and dinners in the city to charity events and museum tours. We try to connect with other groups like past EMBA classes and full-time MBA students too. When the East Coast class spent a week at the San Francisco campus, we joined our West Coast classmates for a trip to Napa before the class began. We’ve also done trips to the Poconos and Jazz Fest in New Orleans.”

4. Residential Learning Environment

“All Wharton EMBA students stay over on Friday night at the hotel, creating a different environment than if we commuted home after class. If I had gone home every Friday night, I would have switched mental modes to be a mom, which would have distracted me from my focus on school. At Wharton, you are a full-time EMBA student for 48 hours, which let me stay in that zone and spend a lot more time with classmates.”

5. Morning Meetups

“Staying over at the hotel allows us to meet up early on Saturday mornings. Sometimes that means continuing group assignments or meeting with a professor or TA. Other times, we would meet a trainer for a morning workout or a group run. Students find ways to pack in every minute of every day at Wharton so that we don’t miss out on time together.”

6. Immersive International Courses

“There are many opportunities to take global classes, which are eye-opening learning experiences, but also focused time to bond with EMBA classmates and other Wharton students. I went to South Africa for Global Business Week and Beijing for a Global Modular Course on marketing to Chinese consumers.”

— Meghan Laska

Posted: October 29, 2018

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