Why I Attended EMTM When I Already had an MBA

Patrick Brown

"For someone like me, with a strong general business background but less engineering experience, the curriculum can be adapted to provide a greater emphasis on engineering & technology. In my case, I structured a curriculum focused on the technological trends that I believed would be important to HP’s ongoing success."

Patrick Brown, MBA, EMTM'09
Manager, Planning & Business Development
Hewlett-Packard Company
Boise, ID

When I began my career with Hewlett-Packard, the company’s business model was well established: develop innovative products, delight customers, and operate in a highly efficient manner. My background in information systems, coupled with my MBA, provided me a solid portfolio of capabilities with which to contribute to HP’s ongoing success. As HP entered the post-dot com era, however, its business model began to shift. While the company continued to focus on delighting customers and operating efficiently, its approach to innovation began to evolve. While product innovation remained important, the development of innovative solutions received increasing attention. At the same time, the means by which HP managed innovation also began to evolve. Historically, innovation at HP came predominantly from internal, or “organic”, efforts. By the mid-2000s, however, HP’s innovation efforts included a greater proportion of “inorganic” projects, i.e., projects that involved strategic partnerships and/or acquisitions.

As the transition in HP’s business model accelerated, I saw an opportunity to contribute to the company in new and exciting ways. For example, HP had always employed a strong group of resources in its business development function. However, I believed that as HP’s business model evolved, future business development resources would benefit from an additional set of capabilities. Such capabilities would include a deeper understanding of the intersection of technology leadership and economic viability, a greater appreciation for the interplay between different business models and the routes-to-market those business models required, and a stronger sense of how solution components housed in different internal organizations could be combined to the customer’s advantage. As I explored various degree programs I focused on those that I believed would provide the greatest opportunity to develop such capabilities. After reviewing several such programs, I concluded that the EMTM program, with its applied engineering curriculum and focus on technology management, combined with its targeted supplemental business coursework, offered the ideal complement to my own academic and professional experiences.

While many degree programs are structured to advance either general business skills (e.g., EMBA programs) or deeper technological skills (e.g., traditional MSE programs), Penn’s program is fundamentally different. The EMTM program is designed to emphasize the integration of multiple disciplines. It provides not only flexibility with respect to schedule, but also with respect to curriculum. For someone with a technical background, the curriculum can be adapted to focus more on business fundamentals, with specific technical coursework added in order to meet specific development objectives. For someone like me, with a strong general business background but less engineering experience, the curriculum can be adapted to provide a greater emphasis on engineering & technology. In my case, I structured a curriculum focused on the technological trends that I believed would be important to HP’s ongoing success. The business courses I elected to include were those that emphasized business development, such as Legal Aspects of Entrepreneurship, or those that emphasized more advanced business analysis skills, such as Real Options Analysis.

There is no doubt that my initial MBA training continues to provide me significant value. It influences the way I assess opportunities, the way I approach challenges, and the way I think about the creation of value. The EMTM program not only enriched those existing capabilities, but also provided me the opportunity to dive more deeply into important emerging technologies, and to utilize the tremendous learning resources provided by both Penn Engineering and Wharton to create, protect and extend value within those technologies.