Broaden your view of business with Iowa's Executive MBA

A self-described “super-motivated Type A,” Erica St. John (MBA19) zoomed up her company’s career ladder to CFO by the time she was 30. That’s why she was so impressed when she first visited a class in Iowa’s Executive MBA program. Like her, the students were high-level professionals. They also had the kind of wide-ranging business experience she was eager to learn from.

Once in the program, Erica’s enthusiasm only grew. Her own cohort of classmates was “phenomenal.” And everything from her classes to an International Business Seminar in China stimulated her to think more strategically about business.

“The Iowa MBA set me up for exactly where I want to go.”

It accelerated her broader role in finance and operations and, eventually, sent her all the way to the top of the organization.

Want to know how she did it? Here’s Erica’s advice on making the most of an Iowa MBA.

#1: Break out of your professional niche

As a CPA with a deep background in finance, Erica saw her courses as essential to expanding her sphere of influence to the wider world of business.

She’s now able to see the bigger picture—whether it involves change management or HR challenges or the latest Chinese business practices.

“When you go through an EMBA program, you get a broader understanding of what’s going on,” she says. “At the end of the day, your business won’t be successful unless you know what other businesses are doing around you. Unless you keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening externally, rather just in your internal world, you’re only going to know what you already know.”

#2: Buy into the cohort experience

“The program is structured to help you work in a team with diverse groups and different thinking.”

She relished debates with classmates from fields as different as medicine and manufacturing, and in roles from directors to top executives.

But don’t think of your team as all work and no play. In the first week of classes, the members of her group went to dinner together and launched friendships she predicts will last her whole life. Such bonds are vital because when program demands peak, your group will get you through it.

#3: Know that the EMBA staff is there to help

During Erica’s application process, the staff was full of encouragement. While the teams were being set up, the staff ensured good matches by using personality tests. Once the program was underway, the staff provided weekly email updates—not to mention breakfast and lunch—to keep students focused on academics.