spacer

Back to School: Masters of Time Management

EMTM students are master jugglers, attending to the demands of school, work and home — not to mention the complications of everyday life and unforeseen personal circumstances like job changes, moves and unexpected interruptions. Balancing an extra-busy schedule can be tough but EMTM students make it work and turn the challenges into accomplishments.

Making a Long Commute Productive

"Whatever you think you're signing up for in terms of a time commitment, double it or triple it," says Derek Bridges EMTM'05. "It's manageable, but I found that there were no shortcuts in the learning process."

For much of the program, Bridges, then President and CEO with Delta Dental, was commuting from Kansas to attend classes fulltime. The travel may have been taxing, but it also helped him with time management, he says. "In some regards, traveling allowed me to fully commit to the program because once I boarded the plane, there was no temptation to run home or to work for something. I did a lot of reading on the plane and at the airport."

With six months left in the program, however, Bridges was recruited to lead the dental and vision companies at WellPoint. He hadn't been planning on changing jobs and it required a move to California, but it was an opportunity for advancement that he couldn't turn down. In his new role as president of a company serving six million consumers — 10 times the size of his previous customer base — Bridges was busier than ever. To keep up with his schoolwork, he would wake up earlier and take time in the off-weekends to study, keeping his evenings free for family. He also made an effort to schedule outings and activities to make the most of the time they had together.

"With good planning, you can have great time with your family even if you're not there as often. I would take a few hours on the weekends I was home to complete my work before everyone got up. That was helpful, because when everyone was up and around, I could commit to them for the rest of the day."

Transitions and Support Systems

Jorge Fukuda, EMTM'06, a manager of glass manufacturing processes for Corning Incorporated, began the program around the same time he moved his family to Corning, NY from Japan. While Jorge and his wife were acculturating to life in the U.S., his two children, then 8 and 11, were making the transition to an American school. "Their cultural adjustment was a piece of the situation that I underestimated. It was a tough two years, but we got through it." Fukuda says.

Jorge typically studied one or two hours during the day on breaks in the office and spent two or three hours in the evenings. He found that conference calls with classmates and EMTM's web-based groupware platform made it easy and efficient to collaborate and accomplish group projects while saving him time to spend with his family.

Having details like book buying, class scheduling, and hotel arrangements taken care of by EMTM administration was also a relief and a great help. "You get plenty of support from (EMTM Associate Director) Donna Samuel and everyone on staff, and it makes a big difference."

Adding a New Dimension to 'Lifestyle Management'

When he began EMTM in 2002, Andrew Talmadge, a U.S. Army Reservist and Senior Procurement Analyst in global research procurement at Merck & Co., Inc., could not have anticipated that he would be deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF-I) during his second term. "I had no intent to be gone, but this was involuntary," says Talmadge. "It adds another dimension to 'lifestyle management' when you're talking about the pain and stress of being away and serving the military during a war."

After an initial tour of duty, Talmadge returned to class the following fall but was deployed a second time to Iraq (OIF-II) in December of 2004 for an 18-month stay, during which his second child was born.

For Talmadge, returning to the program this fall after a leave of absence was stressful, but it was a welcome sort of stress. "I'm also readjusting to being back at work and being back at home with a new child — which is a big change from the military lifestyle. School has given me a focus and a different outlet." To stay on top of everything, he spends time with his family when he comes home from work, helps put the kids to bed and then studies from nine to midnight.

His classmates — many of whom emailed him while he was in Iraq — have helped Talmadge with his transition back into the program, and he believes that fellow students can be an indispensable resource throughout the EMTM experience. "It's important to build relationships in your cohort as well as with more senior students in the program," he says. "On our class teams we adjust the workload for each other. For example, if someone else is traveling that week, I might pick up more work and vice versa. It's not only useful here at school, but it's an absolutely critical component of corporate life."

Collaboration2

In the case of Archana Bhandari and her husband, Karun Appapogu, both EMTM'08, and both project managers at Vanguard, the decision to simultaneously enroll in the program seemed like a good way to share the experience and consolidate the hours spent away from one another. "We knew that it might be tough financially, but we decided it would be best to do it this way, rather than having one of us sit back and wait to start the program," says Bhandari.

Yet a new addition to the household during their second year would change their routine considerably. Along with the demands of two fulltime jobs and EMTM's rigorous coursework, they now had childrearing duties to balance. So far, they've been able to make it work through sharing as many of their responsibilities as possible, Bhandari says. After the birth of their son last year, they both took a one-term break from the program before starting back up this past fall. "The program was very flexible in allowing us to take time off."

Now that they're back in school, the pair works nine hours a day at Vanguard in order to be on campus on Fridays for classes. "We've gotten quite a bit of help from our managers, especially now that we're away on Fridays. They've been very supportive, which makes everything easier," says Bhandari.

The biggest strength Bhandari and Appapogu have is each other. "If you can do it, attending the program together is a great option," Bhandari says. "You can share everything with your best buddy as you go through it, and he will really understand what you're talking about."

Bringing it Home

All EMTM students agree that getting buy-in from family members early on and establishing reasonable expectations can alleviate stress for everyone involved. "You really need to get the right picture going in and not underestimate the workload of the program or the impact it's going to have on your life," says Fukuda. "If you have a partner or children, make sure they understand what you are undertaking, and if possible, make sure you get their blessing."

Family support is critical to getting through a time when everything can feel compromised. "It took full support from my family for me to be successful," says Bridges, who adds that though it was hard at times, his wife and children were excited about his participation in the program.

Students agree that in addition to career and academic successes the EMTM experience offers unexpected rewards — whether it's better relationships, communication or sharpened time management skills. "My husband and I really understand how important the other person's time is," says Bhandari. "These days, I might only have one hour a day to myself, but I've learned how to be as efficient as possible with that hour."

Fukuda believes that EMTM may have been tough but ultimately, it was well worth the journey. "The program was very valuable — not just for me, but for my whole family. At the end, we all really felt that we'd accomplished something."

Bridges agrees. "It really prepares you for the future. One of my professors referred to it as the 'EMTM Lifetime Dividend'. Once you've completed it, anything else that you take on will seem like a vacation."


Derek Bridges and family

“With good planning, you can have great time with your family even if you're not there as often. I would take a few hours on the weekends I was home to complete my work before everyone got up.”

Derek Bridges, President of WellPoint Dental, commuted to EMTM from Kansas and from Southern California. He treated his family to a trip to Hawaii after graduating.

Jorge Fukuda and family

“The program was very valuable — not just for me, but for my whole family. At the end, we all really felt that we'd accomplished something.”

Jorge Fukuda, EMTM'06, a manager of glass manufacturing processes for Corning Incorporated, began the program around the same time he moved his wife and two children, ages 8 and 11, to the U.S. from Japan.

Andrew Talmadge

“On our class teams we adjust the workload for each other... It's not only useful here at school, but it's an absolutely critical component of corporate life.”

Andrew (Drew) Talmadge, U.S. Army Reservist and Senior Procurement Analyst at Merck & Co., knows the value of teamwork. He has been deployed to Iraq two times since entering the EMTM program in 2002.

Archana Bhandari and family

“If you can do it, attending the program together is a great option. You can share everything with your best buddy as you go through it, and he will really understand what you're talking about.”

Archana Bhandari and her husband, Karun Appapogu, both EMTM'08, and both project managers at Vanguard, decided to enroll in the program at the same time to share the experience and consolidate the hours spent away from one another. The birth of their son added yet another dimension to time management.

“If you have a partner or children, make sure they understand what you are undertaking, and if possible, make sure you get their blessing.”

— Jorge Fukuda

“My husband and I really understand how important the other person's time is.”

— Archana Bhandari

spacer spacer

© 2007 University of Pennsylvania. All Rights Reserved. | Sitemap