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cky BECKY ECKERMAN, 31, is the marketing manager for Ernst & Young’s
Be Americas Oil & Gas Center in Houston. But a year ago, she wore her
student hat, too. Eckerman was one of six E&Y employees enrolled in Rice
University’s Energy Executive Management Program, a certi cate program
designed for professionals already working in the energy industry. e
program was composed of 10 courses taught by top energy executives and
professors. With it, Eckerman was able to tap into a vein of networking
opportunities that bene t her in her current role and could help pave the
way as she continues her career in B-to-B energy marketing.
“I’ve only been in the energy industry for ve years. [ e purpose of the
program] for me was to learn beyond what I knew. It opened up my world.
I learned more about what the [industry] challenges are, more about the
market and the key issues our clients are facing,” she says.
With the full support of her E&Y managers, Eckerman was able to
complete the courses—all of which took place during normal work days
and required her to be out of the o ce a total of 13 days—in just one
semester. Normally, students enrolled in the Rice program have up to three
semesters to complete the program. Reading assignments were required
in the run-up to each in-person meeting day so participants would be
prepared. “ ey de nitely test you,” she says. e interaction among
students in the classes, which numbered 25 to 35 per class and were from
all sectors and job functions in the industry, made the learning that much
Eckerman juggled classes and her regular duties, which include coor-
dinating major oil and gas conferences and sponsorships, managing PR
opportunities and authoring thought-leadership articles. She spent her
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lunch breaks putting out res at the o ce via her BlackBerry and of strategic development at Chapman Kelly Inc., a healthcare and
when classes ended at 4 p.m., she spent her evenings catching up insurance auditing service. Self- nancing the six credit hours he
with everything else. “It wasn’t too bad in this day and age. ere is taking per semester plus summer courses, he plans to complete
were scheduled breaks to check in with the o ce. [Rice] knows that his degree within two and a half to three years. He decided not to
the people in the class are busy executives,” she says. attend a full-time M.B.A. program because he didn’t want to put
Striking a balance between work and education wasn’t new to his career at Chapman Kelly, which Browning says is expanding
Eckerman. She earned her master’s degree in integrated market- rapidly, on hold.
ing communications in two years from Emerson College in Boston “It’s a tough day. I go to work, go home, eat, go to class and then
while working full time as an account manager at market research wind down later when I can. It’s tough, but I think there is value
rm Yankee Group. “Now that was crazy,” she says. in it being tough. It makes the degree worth more because it’s not
For professionals considering an industry-speci c certi cate something you can easily get,” he says. “I could choose for it to be
program, Eckerman’s best advice is to go into it with an open less challenging but that would extend the timeline.”
mind—and bring your business cards. “ ere were so many Browning pondered the pros and cons of the di erent programs
di erent business functions represented and now I understand he had under consideration. He studied economics as an under-
what the challenges they are facing are. I keep in touch with graduate and loves marketing but considered the M.B.A. the best
[other students] and it’s some great networking.” choice. “ e M.B.A. is more of a hedge against the future and
what I might be interested in 10 years from now. I’m interested
in marketing right now and I want to understand how that area
The Night-Owl Executive impacts the other areas of the business, … but it is important to
MICHAEL BROWNING, 32, looked long and hard at his understand accounting as well,” he says.
advanced degree options. For a year and a half, he researched He’s already found ways to apply his new learning at Chapman
master’s programs in marketing, economics and business. He Kelly, e orts which have de nitely scored added points with the
researched top 20-ranked M.B.A. programs and online degree company’s management. “ e owners see the value of me being
programs. He gathered the opinions of former colleagues at in the program, and how the knowledge I gain contributes to the
General Electric and Humana. So it is safe to say he didn’t make success of their business,” he says. For example, a er learning about
the choice to enroll in Indiana University’s Part-Time M.B.A. the hierarchy of e ects, which are the phases a buyer goes through
program lightly. The program was honored last year as a top 20 before purchasing a product, Browning applied the hierarchy to his
program by Business Week. company’s sales process to represent how potential clients move
“I always wanted to do [a post-graduate program], but I didn’t through the sales funnel.
know the route. I wanted to know what I wanted in my career inking and applying his schooling in this way also saves him
before I made that move,” he says. some time and brain power. “ e real key [to nding work-study
Browning currently is enrolled in the 36-credit hour program balance] is nding a way to incorporate both into your day. I’m
and nds himself at IU’s Southeast campus in New Albany, Ind., thinking about work issues when I’m at school, and when I’m at
two nights a week, o en until 10 p.m. Serving primarily the Louis- work I’m thinking about applying [what I’m studying] to my job.
ville, Ky., area, the campus is just a few miles along the Ohio River is has the e ect of lessening the amount of time I’m spending at
from Je ersonville, Ind., where Browning works as the director both because I’m incorporating it together,” he says.
AUDRA MAROTTA, 33, isn’t your typical marketer, and so it with learning how other cultures and businesses operate. “Be
makes sense that her continuing education choices aren’t typical prepared to revise your expectations. Be ready to have your norms
either. Marotta’s day jobs since emerging from Loras College as challenged in a good way and keep an open mind,” she says.
an undergraduate in 1997 have been in accounting and nance— In between residencies, students complete other coursework in
she just joined Dog sh Head Cra Brewery in Milton, Del., as tandem with their local universities on a Friday through Sunday
its controller in September—but her number-crunching has schedule that accommodates students that have to y in to take
been tempered by her mostly self-taught skills in marketing and part. Marotta was working full time as a controller at Duda/Paine
leveraging of social media. She fused all her skills by enrolling in Architects, a Durham, N.C., rm, while enrolled in OneMBA.
OneMBA, a 21-month global executive M.B.A. program, through She used all her vacation time to travel for the residencies and the
the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 2006. company comped her the Fridays she needed to attend her other
Marotta grew up accustomed to merging her interests. Born in the classes. “We had to set expectations on what to expect from each
United States to Lithuanian immigrant parents, she grew up attend- other. It was a lot of work,” she says, noting she also had to schedule
ing regular school during the week and attending Lithuanian school on in date nights while she was in the program just to see her husband.
weekends. She balanced two sets of studies, two sets of friends and two It was helpful to be local for the portions of the program that
cultures. “Growing up that way led me to appreciate di erent cultural took place at UNC, but other classes were hosted at a UNC exten-
backgrounds and how they react and interact. I learned that what is a sion near Washington, D.C., to accommodate students who
norm in one country isn’t the same in another,” she says. commuted from across the country. e intensive classes bred
at same lesson was driven home with OneMBA, a program familiarity with classmates that spawned a professional network
that really has no permanent place to call home. e point of di er- unlike any other.
entiation for the program is that its students come from around the “We’d go to classes and then do homework over beers,” Marotta
world and learn in lockstep with each other at their home coun- says. “ e networking was phenomenal. ere’s no way I could repli-
try universities. Besides UNC, participating universities are located cate that on my own. I now have a network of 110 professionals all
in Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Mexico and Brazil. During the over the world that have spent two years working with me and know
program, all the students—there were 110 in Marotta’s class—visit my work ethic. Who knows when that will pay o ?” she says.
each other’s home universities to complete course modules. On For now, Marotta expects to continue to work double-duty, this
each 10-day trip students also visit a second, less-developed coun- time for Dog sh Head. While her o cial title is controller, she
try to study the business environments there. For example, study- also was hired to support the company’s marketing initiatives and
ing in Hong Kong included a side trip to India. help grow the business. “I link people together. I’m not just the
“ is was not a eld trip. Each residency had its own focus accountant pounding away on the calculator,” she says. And if an
and it was an immersive educational environment,” she says. e opportunity arises where she can help the cra brewer expand its
biggest takeaway from the trips was the understanding that came distribution globally—say in Hong Kong—she’s in. m
BY PIET LEVY//STAFF WRITER
How do you know it’s time to go
back to school?
Use this three-item checklist.
The road to a college degree is the road to a better future. But
depending on the undergraduate degree you earned and where
you want your career to go, that road may only take you so far.
Going back to school for an advanced degree or to complete an
executive education program might become a necessity. How do
you know when it’s time for more schooling?
Find the three mileposts that could direct you to further education
on the next page.
A Need for Alan Middleton, executive director of the Schulich Executive
More Marketing Acumen Education Centre at York University’s Schulich School of Busi-
ness in Toronto, says marketers use school to get a handle on
Brendan Hurley’s marketing experience matched his peers’—except ROI, branding and other increasingly important areas. Students
they had formal marketing degrees and he didn’t. also seize opportunities to practice marketing in a setting where
“It gave them a broader understanding of the marketing indus- mistakes don’t equal lost money. “You get to share concepts with
try,” says the senior vice president of marketing and communi- people across a range of di erent marketplaces, so it gives you ideas
cations for Goodwill of Greater Washington and president of the and perspectives outside the narrow focus of a particular industry
Washington, D.C., chapter of the American Marketing Associa- or particular style,” he says.
tion. “To continue growing professionally, I also needed to grow School also is a way to get up to speed quickly, a primary objec-
academically.” As a result, Hurley earned a master’s degree in tive for Harvard Business School’s executive education students, says
marketing from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in 2006. Charles Breckling, the school’s managing director of marketing.
Katie Gehrt, assistant director of communications and market- “On-the-job learning can be very e ective, but it does take
ing for Virginia Tech’s division of student a airs in Blacksburg, Va., time,” Breckling says. “ e executives coming to our programs
had undergrad degrees in psychology and graphic design, but they are learning something they can … apply to their organization on
were little help for marketing, she says. She’s working on a master’s Monday morning.”
in integrated marketing communications from West Virginia
University in Morgantown, W.Va. “I felt like I needed more infor-
mation to do a really great job,” Gehrt says. Career Advancement
Jason McClelland, senior manager of strategic business development
for e-commerce at Adobe Systems Inc. in San Jose, Calif., eventually
wants to move up at the company. But all the positions he’s looked
at require an M.B.A. “I came to the realization that the undergradu-
ate degree is essentially becoming a commodity,” he says. “To push
myself ahead of the pack, there was one answer: an M.B.A. degree
from a school people have heard of.”
Finding Funding It also can help with résumé building. “Having an M.B.A. is an
established credential … that instantly means something to people,”
he says. McClelland is enrolled in the University of California,
The economy has taken a big bite out of what had been juicy university endowment
Berkeley’s M.B.A. program.
apples. Harvard University, for example, experienced a 30% plummet in its endow-
Future career advancement also a ected Hurley’s and Gehrt’s
ment’s value for the year ending June 30, and Stanford University anticipates its own
decisions to get advanced degrees. “Having higher levels of degrees
30% drop this calendar year, which would be its worst single-year decline ever.
is increasingly important for moving up,” Gehrt says of working at
Many universities are a ected by investment losses and donation cuts, and in some Virginia Tech.
ways that impact is trickling down. “There is less money we’re paying out of endow- Lisa Giannangeli, director of marketing for M.B.A. admissions
ments that we’re providing to students,” conﬁrms Jack Edwards, a director of ﬁnan- at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business in Stanford,
cial aid for Stanford Business School. It’s also harder to get a third-party loan given Calif., says most people coming to the program are considering
the economy, says Christopher Penn, chief media o cer for PrivateStudentLoans. a career switch. Instead of going to school to become more
com, a subsidiary of education resource Edvisors Network Inc. in Quincy, Mass. “The acquainted with marketing, M.B.A. or executive education students
credit criteria is stricter now and a lot of [students] across the board are looking for can garner a broader perspective to help them move up and/or out
co-signers,” he says. And according to the Graduate Management Admission Coun- of marketing.
cil’s (GMAC) 2009 survey, there were, on average, 21% more applications for every full- Once someone exits marketing and enters an advanced busi-
time, one-year M.B.A. program, meaning more competition for available dollars. ness role, his responsibilities become more complex and more inte-
grated into the business as a whole, and his marketing expertise
Despite all this, there are still funding opportunities. Consider: likely is not enough, says Paula Beckmann, senior associate director
of executive education for the University of Chicago Booth School
✔ Talking to the school ﬁrst about scholarship opportunities and essay contests; 97% of Business. “Go back to school to help you shape a whole new way
of full-time M.B.A. programs o er tuition assistance and 36% of students receive of thinking about the business world,” she advises.
scholarships, according to GMAC’s 2009 survey.
✔ Taking out a loan from the federal government or a third-party provider. Keep your The Time is Right
credit clean to qualify for better loans, says Susan Gilbert, director of M.B.A. ﬁnan- You can wish for a higher degree all you want, but it won’t happen
cial aid for Harvard Business School. without money. A major decision point for when you seek out
advanced education revolves around when you can a ord it.
✔ Using Google, Petersons.com and FinAid.org to sift through scholarship opportuni- Hurley, Gehrt and McClelland had the funding in place to make
ties, Gilbert and Edwards say.
going to school a reality. Hurley says he had enough to pay for his
✔ Checking with foundations, associations and trusts, which often are overlooked by program without needing loans. Gehrt’s and McClelland’s employ-
scholarship-seeking students, says Alan Middleton, executive director of Toronto’s
ers picked up signi cant portions of their bills—one-fourth of
Schulich Executive Education Centre at York University.
McClelland’s tuition is covered, and Gehrt is reimbursed for the
cost of up to 12 credit hours a year.
✔ Approaching your employer about footing the bill, Middleton and Edwards say. Besides having funding in place, make sure that if you are
married, and particularly if you have children, your spouse is on
✔ Applying for scholarships based on your ethnic heritage. George Andrews, board with your decision. You need to have enough energy to
associate dean of the evening and weekend M.B.A. programs at the University of complete the program and uphold your family responsibilities,
Chicago Booth School of Business, suggests looking at the National Black M.B.A. says Chris Sam lippo, a lecturer at the University of Michigan-
Association Inc., the National Society of Hispanic M.B.A.s and the Robert Toigo Dearborn and contributor to an executive education feasibility
Foundation for opportunities. The American Marketing Association Foundation research study for the university. “It’s a real commitment in terms
o ers scholarship opportunities for African-Americans, Hispanics and Native of time and money,” he says.
Americans enrolled in marketing doctoral programs. For more details, visit York University’s Middleton suggests you ask yourself if your
www.themarketingfoundation.org/valuing_diversity.html. family is ready to be supportive of the commitment you will have
to make. “If not, you may complete the course, but you may end up
without your family,” he advises, jokingly. m