Julie Thiessen, EMBA 43, said she realized how valuable the program was soon after taking Financial Accounting. She said, “I was at lunch with some of the financial analysts, and they were talking about an issue with the way things were being accounted for that was affecting reporting. I stopped the conversation and said, ‘Hey, do you know what is happening right now? I not only understand what you’re talking about, but I’m participating.'”
When Julie started the EMBA in Fall of 2013, she was an IT Program Manager with limited exposure to many aspects of business operations.
Soon after graduating this past May, she was named Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at Prologis, a role in which she will be responsible for the business operations of the leading owner, operator and developer of industrial real estate, with global and regional markets across the Americas, Europe and Asia.
Although her trajectory was in progress when she started her MBA, she credits the program with helping her to hone the interpersonal elements of her management style that made her new position a good fit.
I talked to Julie after a few months into the program, then again after graduation. Early on, she was effusive about how much she was gaining personally from the program:
“I absolutely love it–the whole experience. I love the instructors, I love my classmates. I’m learning not just book material, but I’m growing from a personal perspective. During “GO Week” we were one of the groups that struggled to get along, but I would not go back and change it. Yes, we still have butting heads, but now we can call each other out comfortably. We have learned how to really overcome such a huge hurdle. ”
After graduation, when asked if she had gotten out of the program what she hoped to, Julie hadn’t lost much enthusiasm, although she did admit to some senioritis. “I got more out of the program in some areas, and less in others. To a certain extent that was self inflicted after ‘senioritis’ set in, but for me, what changed is my understanding of interpersonal dynamics. I am more aware of other people’s differences and am not as judgmental and dismissive.”
In her new role, Julie is taking on business operations responsibilities. “As the Brits say, I’m ‘minding the gap’, ” she said. “I’m working on those issues that come up that are business annoyances for them, and have downstream effects, but there is no one working on resolving the problems–the types of things that people complain about for years. I am identifying them, then prioritizing them for resolution. I’m not necessarily feet on the ground, but I’m figuring out how to fix them.”
Julie was working as a consultant at Prologis when the Director of the PMO she was working in asked what she planned to do after graduation. “I said I hadn’t had a lot of time to think about it, but that I wanted to move on beyond consulting and project management into the next step in the path to COO. She said she could open a door for me in business operations, and within six minutes I’d heard back from the Senior Executive in charge that he was interested in talking to me.”
Did the EMBA make that happen? Julie isn’t sure, but credits the program with her improved people skills. She said, “I think it could have happened without the piece of paper, but possibly not at the level they hired me at. I might also have left the company last year without the training I got in interpersonal dynamics.”