The Notre Dame Executive MBA

Alumni Profiles

Chris Burke  

Chris Burke (EMBA ’10)
President and Vice Chair
AMA Insurance Agency Inc.

View profile

After being named president and vice chair of AMA Insurance Agency Inc., Chris Burke enrolled in Notre Dame’s Executive MBA program in Chicago. A 2010 graduate, he recently took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss his experiences in the program.

Already established in your career, what was the impetus for pursuing an MBA? What was the desired result?
There were two primary reasons. First, my knowledge of finance was not nearly as deep as I felt it needed to be, given my relatively new role as a company president. Instead of simply taking some one-off finance courses, I wanted this experience to be a link in an entire value-chain of learning designed to really take my business acumen to the next level. Second, my goal is to someday open my own boutique executive-coaching practice, and I knew that I would need to close some knowledge gaps and credential myself via a well-respected MBA program to best position myself for this future opportunity.

As a graduate, did the program help you accomplish your goal?
Certainly, objective No. 1 has been accomplished! I have much more depth in financial management matters and I am significantly more confident in terms of evaluating and reporting financial detail with our board of directors. The second objective is most certainly positioned now — and has become one step closer to being a reality someday.

Your experience was unique, in that you attended the program in our Chicago classroom. Did the location affect your affiliation with Notre Dame? And how did the Chicago experience compare to the on-campus four-week immersion?
As an executive who works in downtown Chicago, my experience with the Chicago classroom was simply outstanding. The quality of professors who came to us (versus us going to them) was fabulous, and the facility itself is very well suited for a learning experience, including the collaboration aspects with other students. The immersion experiences at ND were great and most certainly added to the ND heritage impact, which is important to me as well. Yet, I don't think we missed an “educational beat” by virtue of being in Chicago.

What was that like to “go back to school” as an executive? And what was it like to collaborate with executives from varying organizations?
Going back to school was pretty challenging at first. Getting into the swing of locking down each evening for two or three hours to study and complete assignments took a lot of discipline. But rather than just going through the motions of completing assignments and passing tests, I really wanted to understand the coursework and be able to apply it, so it was not tough for me to understand the importance of focus. As a side note, I graduated magna cum laude — not bad for an “old guy” who went back to school!

Describe the experience in terms of logistics: How did you balance the rigorous curriculum with your existing career and other responsibilities, such as family?
Balancing probably isn't a good term of art. In my case, it was “replacing” something — because my responsibilities to my career and family are both important. What I replaced was the evening TV or casual reading time I used to have during the week. I don't think I watched evening TV shows or read a book for fun during the week for 18 months. However, I made sure that Sundays were off-limits to any work or study — God and family only!

What elements of the program made the biggest impact on you, both personally and professionally?

I'll be honest with you, the curriculum itself was wonderful, but the biggest impact on me both personally and professionally was the business-ethics component of my ND experience. Our classroom discussions of ethical dilemmas faced in business today were some of the most important learning experiences I've ever had. Terribly inspiring. It really motivates me personally to keep moving up in terms of leadership responsibility.

How have you taken the lessons learned through the EMBA program and applied them to your current position and organization? What has been the feedback from your colleagues and/or staff? How has it impacted your career trajectory?
There are more examples of how I have applied lessons learned than I can count. From personal-value statements to new branding strategy to moral decision making, the list goes on and on. The feedback from colleagues and staff has been extremely positive. My new learning has really motivated my organization to take their performance to higher levels. As with any organization, they desire confidence in their leadership, and my confidence is higher than it has ever been.

What advice would you give to a prospective EMBA candidate?
My advice is to stop putting it off. Hunker down and get it done — the learning will take your business acumen and confidence to a whole new level. The EMBA experience — collaborating with other experienced business leaders as part of the learning process — was invaluable. There were some really sharp folks in my class and they form a network of subject-matter expertise that I will be able to call upon for a very long time. I already have in several circumstances.

Denise Crawford  

Denise Crawford (EMBA ’04)
President and CEO
Family Health Center, Kalamazoo, Michigan

View profile

Denise Crawford began her career as a licensed therapist after earning an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s in social work. As a therapist, she developed a keen interest in health care management. The CEO of her then employer, Borgess Medical Center, was an alumnus of Notre Dame’s EMBA program and encouraged her to consider enrolling. After graduation she became executive director of physicians and community clinics for Borgess-Lee Memorial, a rural hospital in Dowagiac, Michigan. In 2009 she returned home to Kalamazoo to lead Family Health Center. The only Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in the county, it serves as the medical “safety net” for people without proper access to health care.  The organization serves 23,000 patients a year and will triple in size with the completion of a $10.3 million construction project in October 2012. The project was negotiated and led exclusively under the direction of Ms. Crawford.

Already established in your career, what was the impetus for pursuing an Executive MBA? What was the desired result?
The impetus was job satisfaction as well as career choice and opportunity, upward movement. I was already established in my career and had essentially reached a plateau. At 34, I was already a director who oversaw several clinicians at multiple locations. I knew I would be working several more years and wanted additional opportunities, challenges and growth.  I was also drawn to working with underserved populations and wanted to be of service to my community.

As a graduate, did the program help you accomplish your goal?
Absolutely, unequivocally yes. It was life changing. Since I entered Notre Dame, I have found even more meaningful and rewarding work; I am challenged daily, and it doesn’t hurt that I have quadrupled my salary! Just having such an amazing opportunity to progress in my career, especially in this economy, has been very rewarding for me and my family.

What was that like to “go back to school” as an executive? And what was it like to collaborate with executives from varying organizations?
It was very intense, but it taught all of us teamwork, collaboration and creativity. We learned how to work within guidelines and play to the highest strengths of individuals. Being a trained behaviorist, none of that was very difficult for me, but as a group it was a surprising challenge. We were charged with not just getting along but learning to truly understand and collaborate with each other. We were a group of seven bosses (executives), all wanting to be in charge. This is a group dynamic which will prepare you for the workforce. You will need to operate with people on many levels, and you’ll need to learn how to collaborate creatively, respect others, and craft win-win scenarios. I think the program prepared us well for real life.

Describe the experience in terms of logistics: How did you balance the rigorous curriculum with your existing career and other responsibilities such as family.
It was just time management, and the program does an excellent job of preparing you for that. We had meetings with our families and indicated to them, “OK, we’re doing this together. It’s going to be a two-year program, and this (amount of time) is going to be family time, everything outside of that has to be devoted to this rigorous program.” We still had jobs, we had to earn an income, but we approached it as a two-year commitment that would impact the rest of our lives.

I think it expands your concept of what you think is possible. There was one time when I had to meet with a member of our group, an engineer, and the only time he had available was 5 a.m. I never imagined I would be up and somewhere studying at 5 a.m., but it’s amazing what you can do when you have to do it. That has been so beneficial in my life. Now I know that if there’s something that needs to be done by tomorrow, I don’t think twice about cranking it out till 3 a.m.; I know I can do it. You may only have to do that two or three times a year, but that knowledge and that drive are just invaluable.

What elements of the program made the biggest impact on you, both personally and professionally?
We referred to it as “reputation capital.” Notre Dame has developed an indisputable reputation for creating an excellent, ethical-leadership talent pool. Graduates simply expect to make a difference in the world. There is great camaraderie and a real feel for what it means to be part of the elite Notre Dame family. It’s amazing how when my bio is read and people hear about my degree from Notre Dame, perceptions seem to shift or there’s this acknowledgement that you are on a higher plane, and you have an obligation to deliver.

How have you taken the lessons learned through the EMBA program and applied them to your current position and organization? What has been the feedback from your colleagues and/or staff? How has it impacted your career trajectory?
One of the great challenges and benefits of an excellent EMBA program is learning about a broad cross-section of businesses. I remember we had a speaker who told us that by having the Notre Dame education you may not be leading every conversation, but you will definitely be part of every one. I am never in a position now where I feel completely out of my league and unprepared.

The diversity of the program, which focuses on everything from business law to finance to ethics, etc., really sets the stage for you to tackle any challenge or position. As I’ve worked in the nonprofit world, I have had to be the chief, the cook and the bottle washer. This flexibility comes from understanding the basis of tort law, the basis of market law, marketing, market segmentation, the list goes on and on.  I have been prepared completely to run an organization which requires me to have some level of expertise in every last one of those subject areas.

What advice would you give to a prospective EMBA candidate?
Outside of “Go for it,” I would tell them to remember that this will likely be one of the most challenging and by far the most rewarding commitment you will ever make. Also, know that the sky’s the limit with a Notre Dame degree. The only way to go is up. I’m living proof of that. 

Mike Crawford

Mike Crawford (EMBA ’09)
Senior Vice President/General Manager for the Shanghai Disney Resort
The Walt Disney Company

View profile

Mike Crawford (EMBA ’09) spent more than 10 years working for The Walt Disney Company before coming to Notre Dame to advance his education. After graduating, Mike returned to Disney, where he is currently a senior vice president/general manager for the Shanghai Disney Resort, a project scheduled to open in 2015. He recently took some time to reflect upon his experiences in the EMBA program at Mendoza.

Already established in your career, what was the impetus for pursuing an MBA? What was the desired result? 
Beyond continued professional growth, I always had a personal goal of getting my MBA. I had intended on completing a program at a much earlier stage of my career, but always had different opportunities with my current employer that did not allow for the focused time I needed to dedicate to pursuing my business education in a meaningful way. While I already had a fairly deep understanding of many business fronts, the results from getting my MBA have allowed a more complete picture at a macro level. Senior leaders within my company have also recognized it as another level of sacrifice and achievement. It has been a great source of pride in terms of personal accomplishment and an example for my family and peers to aspire to in working to achieve their goals.

As a graduate, did the program help you accomplish your goal?
Yes, very much so. I always had a deep appreciation for Notre Dame and the great educational values it represented. To officially be part of the Notre Dame family has been a great source of pride, both professionally and personally. The other surprising benefit was the relationships I have continued to have with many of my class and teammates. In terms of my professional career, it has delivered the results I had hoped for, which was continued recognition and growth.  My MBA was a necessary credential for me to move into the senior vice president/general manager role I currently hold. I’m hopeful this will continue to be an important part of my résumé for future career growth.

What was that like to “go back to school” as an executive? And what was it like to collaborate with executives from varying organizations?
For me the experience was humbling and rewarding at the same time. It pushed me to go outside my comfort zone, meet other professionals, and learn and share experiences from the real world of business. The time with the class and my team was very enlightening. The chance to discuss business issues in the context of a classroom environment was a much different experience than being an undergrad. I completely immersed myself in the experience, and the time was well spent. I really enjoyed building those connections in and out of the classroom and have continued to leverage those relationships in performing my role at The Walt Disney Company.

Describe the experience in terms of logistics: How did you balance the rigorous curriculum with your existing career and other responsibilities, such as family?  
The program was much more demanding than I originally anticipated. It required a great deal of sacrifice and time management. I had to realize I couldn’t be everything to everyone and still manage to participate fully in the program. I typically used late nights and weekends for homework, case work and team meetings. Living in California, my commitment was exacerbated by the extra time traveling to and from South Bend. That being said, my goal was to focus on the work when I was on campus, and being farther from home allowed me the time to focus. My family and friends were very supportive, but I included them every step of the way, so there was complete transparency into what I was doing and how I approached delivering on this goal for myself.

What elements of the program made the biggest impact on you, both personally and professionally? 
The on-campus experience was invaluable. Being immersed in the environment, focusing on the academics and developing relationships outside of class hours clearly helped “round out” the experience for me. The faculty was incredibly focused on delivering an education that leveraged the students’ professional expertise and very good at building class discussions around our experiences. I appreciated the level of quality at which the program was run and taught. Everyone was incredibly professional, and it made me appreciate the learning even more.

How have you taken the lessons learned through the EMBA program and applied them to your current position and organization? What has been the feedback from your colleagues and/or staff? How has it impacted your career trajectory? 
I would say the biggest lesson I’ve applied is just a broader sense of perspective to leading and problem solving. The EMBA program was very integrated in its approach to teaching, and this has been beneficial to me in terms of my leadership of those around me. Taking a step back from a challenge in order to see the bigger picture has allowed me to improve my career trajectory and the trust of my team in making difficult decisions. It has been clearly recognized and rewarded by my leaders, who also hold MBAs. There’s been a distinct advantage for me in terms of relating to fellow MBAs and the overall reality of professional growth realized through continuing my formal education.

What attracted you to the Mendoza College of Business versus other EMBA programs?
The rating and reputation of the MBA program at Mendoza were key factors in my decision.  The staff and type of executives the program attracted were also driving factors. But I would say it was Notre Dame’s reputation for academic excellence that made the difference for me. The reality of me spending this amount of time away from my family, and at that stage of my career, needed to be rewarded with a reputable MBA degree. I felt the University of Notre Dame would deliver upon that requirement, and it did.

What advice would you give to a prospective EMBA candidate? 
When making a decision on what type of program is right for you, consider a broader set of guiding principles other than just getting the degree. The sacrifice needs to be worth the reward, and sometimes the easiest path is not the most rewarding. Notre Dame is difficult, but the sense of pride and accomplishment you will receive when completing the program is worth the personal investment. Everyone you encounter will respect it and it will be worth the time spent in the program. The other piece of advice I would give is you’ll get out of it what you put into it!  Don’t approach the program with an attitude of just wanting the degree. Approach it to learn from and share with others the experiences you have had as a professional.

Amy Floria  

 Amy Floria (EMBA ’09)
Chief Financial Officer
Indiana University Health Goshen

View profile

Amy Floria earned her bachelor’s and master’s in accounting from Manchester College. She then she worked as a CPA for Coopers & Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) before joining one of her clients, Goshen Health System (now Indiana University Health Goshen) in northern Indiana. She was promoted to her current position, chief financial officer, halfway through the Executive MBA program.

Already established in your career, what was the impetus for pursuing an Executive MBA? What was the desired result?

After I became Finance Director I was encouraged to get an MBA if I wanted to take the next step in my career. My employer offered to sponsor me and said I could go anywhere as long as I committed to remaining with the hospital for at least two years after graduation. Whether I stayed in Goshen or went elsewhere I knew an MBA from Notre Dame was going to improve my opportunities. I was accepted into the program but ended up deferring enrollment for a year. I had been promoted to assistant vice president and was encouraged not to take on a new role and go to school at the same time.

As a graduate, did the program help you accomplish your goal?

Oh, my gosh, yes, even before I realized it could it happen. I was thinking it might be two or three years before I would have an opportunity to become CFO. However, Goshen experienced some administrative leadership changes and one key person in our management team left the organization. This opened up the opportunity to become the CFO much sooner than I had originally anticipated.

What was that like to “go back to school” as an executive? And what was it like to collaborate with executives from varying organizations?

It was a little scary having to remember how to study and how you best retain information and learn. I remember the first test. It was an accounting test, and the last test I’d taken had been 13 years earlier, and it was the CPA exam.

Working with colleagues from other organizations was wonderful. I think the best part of the program, really, is the interaction with all your peers in that classroom setting. That’s the piece I miss the most – that interaction, learning how things are done in different organizations and trying to peel away from their experiences and applying it at your own workplace.

Describe the experience in terms of logistics: How did you balance the rigorous curriculum with your existing career and other responsibilities, such as family?

I definitely had to get buy-in from my family before I started the program. We all knew there would be a lot of sacrifices to be made. At the time, our youngest son was 3 and our oldest son was 5 and just starting kindergarten. I didn’t get to see my oldest son get on the bus for his first day of kindergarten because I was in class. Logistically, I live in Middlebury, and one of the reasons I chose Notre Dame was its location (about 40 miles). Our team would get together for two or three hours every Sunday evening to work on projects, and a lot of times they came to my house. My boys adopted some of my team members as uncles. I joke that I wasn’t Mother of the Year the two years I was in college. But I really wanted to try to emphasize, at least to our oldest son, the importance of college, studying and working hard at school.

What elements of the program made the biggest impact on you, both personally and professionally?

The marketing pieces because when you’re an accountant that side of your brain just doesn’t always work very well. It was valuable to see how marketing can play such a big role in business and to learn the components of marketing and to realize that there really is a message and a strategy behind it. Also, I benefitted from some of the economics and investment classes. They reiterated some of the knowledge that I had lost from my undergraduate days about the components of the economy and the investment world.

How have you taken the lessons learned through the Executive MBA program and applied them to your current position and organization? What has been the feedback from your colleagues and/or staff? How has it impacted your career trajectory?

It really helped me fill the holes in my day-to-day interactions with peers. For example, when the hospital has a new marketing program, I have a better understanding of how a marketing plan works, how branding works, how all the pieces and the strategies fit together. It broadened my mind from the (typical) accounting perspective to, “There’s more than just numbers.” It’s really helped me be able to interact with board members who come from very different industries and environments.

For me the Notre Dame degree was like having a glass full of rocks. You look at it and think you’ve got the glass full. But then you pour in water and realize how much more you can put into it. The rocks were my existing knowledge before I attend Notre Dame. The wealth of information gained from the EMBA program was very much like adding that water to the glass. It filled the gaps.

What advice would you give to a prospective Executive MBA candidate?

Don’t focus on grades, focus on the learning process. Absorb as much knowledge as you can. The grades will come. Nobody has asked me my GPA since I left.

Concentrate on the learning, and push yourself to go outside your comfort zone. For me that meant taking the lead role on a project in marketing and really diving in, pushing myself in a weak area and letting somebody else take care of the accounting projects. While (the accounting) would have been the easier project to manage, that’s not where you’re going to learn. It’s hard to do but well worth the effort. 

FIRSTNAME LASTNAME

Jim Heath (EMBA ’98)
President
Stryker Instruments

View profile

Jim Heath (EMBA ’98) recently took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss his experiences in Notre Dame’s Executive MBA program and how it helped him advance his career. Today, Jim is president at Stryker Instruments in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Already established in your career, what was the impetus for pursuing an MBA? What was the desired result?

I felt that my fundamental business knowledge was not where it needed to be. I attended a liberal-arts school and was a history major. My master’s degree was in sports administration. I was in management at Stryker and learned plenty during my eight-year tenure. However, if I was going to progress in my career I needed more. Notre Dame could fill the gaps between the practical and the theoretical. It was an investment in me — to become a better manager, leader and contributor to the organization.

As a graduate, did the program help you accomplish your goal?

Absolutely. The professors were terrific. They were challenging and top-notch. I learned a great deal in the group sessions and through the constant interaction with the other students, all of whom were experienced professionals in a variety of industries. As a result of my ND experience, I felt that I was better prepared to tackle more complex business challenges.

What was that like to “go back to school” as an executive? And what was it like to collaborate with executives from varying organizations?

Going back to school was both exciting and difficult. I had been out of school for 14 years and I had two young children, in addition to a demanding job. I love learning. That was the exciting part. Developing a schedule that gave everything and everyone their due was challenging, but it all worked out. I learned a tremendous amount from the people in my study group and in class. I realized there are many ways to approach business issues.

Describe the experience in terms of logistics: How did you balance the rigorous curriculum with your existing career and other responsibilities, such as family?

It was a challenge. I attempted to put everything into whatever my priority was at the time. In the evening, I spent time with my kids until they went to bed, before hitting the books. I would devote one day on the weekend to the family and one day to studying. During the day it was all Stryker.

What elements of the program made the biggest impact on you, both personally and professionally?

The study group was great because it allowed me to get to know people who were in the same situation as I was, trying to balance my job, family and school. They taught me a great deal. I learned that if you put your mind to it and stay organized and dedicated, you can do much more than you ever anticipated. Professionally, I grew immeasurably. There were definite gaps that ND was able to fill. Strategy and finance were outstanding classes led by two tremendous professors.

How have you taken the lessons learned through the EMBA program and applied them to your current position and organization? What has been the feedback from your colleagues and/or staff? How has it impacted your career trajectory?

I don’t believe that I am in my present position just because I attended ND’s EMBA program.  That being said, it has helped me in decision making and understanding the various segments of the business, such as operations, which was a gap for me.

What attracted you to the Mendoza College of Business versus other EMBA programs?

The reputation of Notre Dame was an obvious draw as well as its proximity to West Michigan. I looked at University of Michigan and Northwestern, too, but I thought ND was a better fit for me. I liked the campus and [former EMBA Director] Arnie Ludwig.

What advice would you give to a prospective EMBA candidate?

The EMBA is a great program that allows you to continue your job and develop your business acumen. Make sure that your family, your employer and fellow workers understand what you are doing, why you are doing it, and some of the challenges that will occur. Everyone has to be involved to help you achieve your goal. The experience is tremendous and worth the time, energy and effort.

FIRSTNAME LASTNAME

Terry Horan (EMBA '05)
Chairman, President and CEO
Robert Bosch Tool Corporation

View profile

Terry Horan ’05, chairman, president and CEO, Robert Bosch Tool Corporation

Terry Horan worked for many years in sales and marketing for U.S. tool and paint manufacturers and held the title of senior vice president of marketing for Rust-Oleum Corporation at the time he entered the EMBA program. After graduation he served as president of the rotary tool division of Robert Bosch Tool before named to his present position in January 2011. Robert Bosch Tool is part of the German conglomerate Bosch Group, headquartered in Stuttgart.

Already established in your career, what was the impetus for pursuing an Executive MBA? What was the desired result?

At the time I applied, my career was very focused on sales and marketing. I wanted to become more well-rounded to prepare for a future general-management role. I wanted to learn more about finance and operations, things I hadn’t had a lot of exposure to. It seemed like a good investment.

As a graduate, did the program help you accomplish your goal?

Yes, clearly. It positioned me well for the position I had when I joined Bosch and also for the position I’m in now. It certainly was an asset in making me a candidate to lead the company.

Your experience was unique in that you attended the program in our Chicago classroom. Did the location affect your affiliation with Notre Dame? And how did the Chicago experience compare to the on-campus four-week immersion?

The Chicago program enabled me to attend Notre Dame while living and working in the Chicago area.  I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
It was a great experience. You have a lot of interaction with your classmates; you do half of your learning just from that. That ability to sit with 60 peers and learn about new experiences from them opens your eyes to other people’s companies and careers and backgrounds.

The time spent on the Notre Dame campus was a very strong part of the program. It only deepens your appreciation of the university as you could kind of live the culture and experience it firsthand.

What was that like to “go back to school” as an executive? And what was it like to collaborate with executives from varying organizations?

At the beginning, it was terrifying. I honestly felt Notre Dame was at a caliber that made it a stretch school for me. But that’s why I wanted to go there. I wanted to challenge myself. So before my arrival there were some anxious moments, but it was exciting also because I grew up in Chicago in an Irish-Catholic family that watched Notre Dame football every Saturday. The fact that I was going to go to that school felt to me to be a great accomplishment.

The interaction part – as I mentioned before, that’s half the program. I met people who were really brilliant in different fields, in areas I knew little about. The group work was the chance to really build on each other’s strengths and really learn from experts.

Describe the experience in terms of logistics: How did you balance the rigorous curriculum with your existing career and other responsibilities, such as family?

It definitely takes a strong commitment – not just from yourself but from your company; they’re giving up part of your time. And definitely from your family – you can’t do it without support from both. When weekends are spent doing homework instead of kids’ events, that’s a sacrifice the whole family is making. But it’s a year and a half, and a year and a half goes pretty quickly.

What elements of the program made the biggest impact on you, both personally and professionally?

Personally, the weeklong Executive Integral Leadership program that Leo Burke led was very meaningful to me because I was able to get a lot of feedback from colleagues I work with. The whole week was kind of shaped around going beyond the classical curriculum of an MBA to more bigger-picture aspects of business and how business should be conducted. It was a bit of a retreat for me. I found everybody in our class to be very open to getting the most out of that week. That was a great personal experience. I made friendships that I keep to this day.

Professionally, it would definitely be strengthening my education portfolio to include more on the financial side of the business, especially given the (divisional president) role I was about to move into. I was able to apply everything I had learned immediately upon graduation. 

How have you taken the lessons learned through the EMBA program and applied them to your current position and organization? What has been the feedback from your colleagues and/or staff? How has it impacted your career trajectory?

For sure it impacted the trajectory of my career. Other than that, one of the key messages in the Notre Dame program is to do the right thing and to manage in that way. Whenever you’re faced with a difficult decision or dilemma, always fall back on that as a guiding principal. That’s something I definitely share with others here and try to spread throughout the organization culturally.

Of the other things … one of the tools we learned specifically in a marketing course taught by (Professor) Joe Urbany we’ve put in place here and it’s helping us map out strategic directions.

What advice would you give to a prospective EMBA candidate?

Be prepared for a lot of work, don’t underestimate the commitment you’re making, and be very actively involved with your classmates because there’s as much to learn from them as from the program. But enjoy the ride, it’s a fast one.

Jason Niehaus (EMBA ’08)

Jason Niehaus (EMBA ’08)
President of Senior Health & Housing Services
Catholic Health Partners

View profile

Jason Niehaus (EMBA ’08) is president of Senior Health & Housing Services with Catholic Health Partners in Cincinnati. In this Q&A, he discusses how the Executive MBA program helped him advance his career and achieve his goals.

Already established in your career, what was the impetus for pursuing an MBA? What was the desired result?

The business environment is changing. The ability to remain viable as an organization requires a more strategic approach and transformative thought process. I needed to expand my ability to lead change at a rapid pace. This required developing a broader understanding of how decisions would impact the organization as a whole. 

As a graduate, did the program help you accomplish your goal?

As a graduate of the program, I am a better leader. A day does not go by when I do not apply the learning that was instilled from the program. These could either be business principles that were gained or the foundations of ethical leadership. Business objectives are now viewed holistically and with the understanding of an individual decision’s impact.  In addition to the education, the resources that are now available to me through the network of classmates, professors and other alumni have contributed to key business results. 
 
What was that like to “go back to school” as an executive? And what was it like to collaborate with executives from varying organizations?

Going back to school as an executive was a tremendous commitment, both personally and professionally. However, the structure of the program lends the support that you need to be successful at work, school and home. The University of Notre Dame recognizes the challenge of the program and prepares you for success. One example of this was by asking spouses to participate at orientation. This inclusion created a connection with the university and a support network with other spouses during the program.

Another key element to success was your study group. These individuals become a part of your family and tremendous support. The interaction with these individuals as well as other professionals outside of your organization and industry opens your eyes to many perspectives.  These multiple lenses contributed to ideas that would otherwise have not been considered when managing opportunities within my organization.    

Describe the experience in terms of logistics: How did you balance the rigorous curriculum with your existing career and other responsibilities, such as family?

The ability to develop a schedule was critical to my ability to juggle the many responsibilities both professionally and personally. Sitting down with your family and gaining alignment by discussing the commitment and sacrifices that were required is essential. At the start of the program I also had a 3-month-old daughter. If you think it can be done, it can, but only with the support of your employer, family and classmates–your two-year extended family.
 
What elements of the program made the biggest impact on you, both personally and professionally?

The program as a whole is a life-changing experience. There are several elements that stand out among the rest, the first being the Integral Leadership Program. This established the foundation of personal development for professional success.   

How have you taken the lessons learned through the EMBA program and applied them to your current position and organization? What has been the feedback from your colleagues and/or staff? How has it impacted your career trajectory?

Since completing my MBA, I have experienced two promotions from within the organization.  These promotions have come as a result of my ability to apply knowledge gained from the program as well as confidence in my leadership abilities to contribute in any arena.  

What attracted you to the Mendoza College of Business versus other EMBA programs?

What attracted me to the University of Notre Dame was its tremendous reputation for developing strong-minded, ethically based leaders. I did not feel that there was another program that could offer the caliber of teaching and foundation in principles. I understood that the University of Notre Dame extended something beyond just a diploma. It has provided a network to success.

What advice would you give to a prospective EMBA candidate?

Consider the value the program will deliver as a result of the experience. There are endless options to achieving your MBA. There are very few that will distinguish what that MBA represents in you as a leader.