Integrity. Innovation. Impact.

Mary Lawyer

Mary Lawyer



EMBA 2008


Blue Zones Initiative and Honorary Consul for Canada

Why did you first decide to return to school for an MBA?

I determined that I needed my MBA for career advancement. I had started a program many years earlier but between child care and work travel was not able to complete. I had reached a point where I felt I had to proceed, and the Executive MBA Program gave me a format that helped me balance my career and life responsibilities with school. I also had some great mentors who encouraged me to enter the program...they were right!

How did receiving a Tippie Executive MBA prepare you for your current career?

I was already in a career when I received my EMBA, but this program was very helpful to introduce me to new ideas and better practices, especially around HR/management and budgeting.

What impact did the program have on you both socially and academically?

There is no better way to stymie a social life then to work and go to school full time! Seriously, the study group aspect was great so the class became an extended social network. The lock-step structure of the EMBA program helps develop a team that not only creates social bonds but also helps academically.

How would you describe the classroom environment?

Because everyone is well established in a career, I learned as much from fellow students as the professors. The environment is one of great give-and-take, questioning and sharing of best practices. I appreciated that openness and format. It fostered real-world problem solving.

What do you think sets Tippie apart from similar executive MBA programs? In short, what makes Tippie special?

The specialized format and applicability to current career are key. The fact that you are going through the program with others who are in the same situation with families and careers is a big help. You have a team you can rely on, and that can rely on you, as you would in the real world. In addition, all of the "hassle factors" are taken care of...everything from registration and purchasing books to procuring snacks and lunch are handled so you can just focus on the academics.

Why was Tippie right for you?

Tippie is a top-notch business college and the EMBA packages this with a great format, both in terms of schedule and ease of administrative details. Fellow classmates who are embedded in careers, and the amount you can learn from them, also made the course a good fit.

I see you are Iowa’s honorary consul for Canada. Do you have any advice for students who want to do business internationally?

International business is hard to avoid in today's economy, and doing business internationally can be made so much easier if you know what resources may be available to you. Make sure you see if there is a Consul General Office in your region for the countries you wish to do business with. If so, that office often can provide everything from trade, policy, and regulatory assistance to international paperwork processing such as visas. Do some research and understand what government/diplomatic assistance may be available. This often can save you a great deal of time down the road. It is also best if you research the culture and environment and be prepared to adapt to the culture of the country where you are doing business. Generally, international business partners appreciate it when you make an attempt to understand their business climate and culture and, as long as you are making an attempt to acknowledge those items, they will forgive a lot of other blunders.