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Paying for Yourself Can Pay Off

For any EMTM student, the time and money spent in the pursuit of a combined management and technology degree is a major investment, and choosing to self-sponsor the program proves to be an even greater commitment. Yet many graduates feel the decision to pay their own way was an empowering and ultimately critical action in accelerating their career progress.

Looking Forward
Bill Kyburz EMTM‘02 came to the program shortly after his company, MCI, was acquired by Worldcom. An executive manager for product development, he sensed that changes were afoot in both his company and industry and he wanted to be prepared for them by exploring technologies beyond telecommunications. “At that point you could say I was mid-career and reassessing what I wanted to do in the next phase,” Kyburz says. Kyburz came across EMTM when he was researching Wharton’s executive MBA program. EMTM’s emphasis on technology was attractive to him, as was the alternate weekend format.

After approaching his management regarding tuition benefits, he came to the conclusion that the company’s policy was not sufficient for the costs of the program and he would be better served paying for the program himself and taking a tax deduction for non-reimbursed education expenses. At the same time, his company supported his decision and agreed to give him the flexibility he would need to take program Fridays off. After some deliberation, Kyburz decided to enroll. “Perhaps if my company had agreed to sponsor me it would have been an easier decision but even so, I had a pretty good sense that the program was going to help me advance my career,” he says.

At EMTM, Kyburz found operations management, marketing and next generation wireless classes helped him streamline and refine the rollout of new products at Worldcom and keep an eye on future technologies. He also participated in the global immersion trip to China, which he says was an eye-opening experience in exposing him to the sophisticated operations and logistics deployed in the companies the students visited.

Upon completing the program, Kyburz leveraged his degree and the Penn network to uncover new job opportunities. Soon afterward, he landed a job at General Dynamics Information Technology in Fairfax, VA. He started as a program manager and today serves as director of business development. “In my current role I really need to understand customer needs and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their technological capabilities. But I also need to understand how to work with people and how to manage the business side. EMTM helped me acquire all these skills.”

Kyburz is thrilled with his decision to enroll in the program and continues to recommend the self-sponsorship option to others. “For anyone who is seriously interested in advancing their career, EMTM offers the necessary tools as well as an enriching educational experience.”

Staying Flexible
Michael Mumm EMTM‘08 was working as a business analyst at Merrill Lynch where he enjoyed investigating both business and technology issues. When he started to take on more management responsibilities at his firm, he realized that additional education would prepare him for increased responsibility and enable him to provide more cutting-edge technology solutions to business problems. “In order to continue to grow I would need to master some new management skills, but I also wanted to keep a foot in the tech world, so an MBA was not really an option,” he says.

At first, Mumm considered asking Merrill Lynch for tuition reimbursement or sponsorship but after conducting a cost/benefit analysis on his own he realized he stood to gain more from paying for the program himself. Asking the company to support him would have required a commitment of several more years at his job and he wanted the flexibility to pursue other opportunities. “I made some assumptions about what my salary would be if I moved to another firm with an EMTM degree and I could see that the education would pay for itself soon enough.”

When it came time for a job change, Mumm found that his degree, honed management and quantitative skills and the EMTM student network positioned him perfectly for a risk analyst role at a hedge fund. “Hedge funds are highly competitive to break into, but EMTM made me much more marketable. In an economy like this one, you have to come from a strong foundation and EMTM differentiates you from other candidates.”

In terms of financial and career satisfaction, Mumm feels his investment in EMTM has already paid off with considerable dividends. “Looking back, I know I made the right decision.”

Enjoying the Journey
Shane Geunes EMTM‘06 was at a crossroads when he came to EMTM in 2004. He first launched his career as a mechanical engineer then transitioned into software engineering. A few years before starting the program he had turned an independent consulting practice into a business software development company with four other peers. While serving as the company’s director of business development, Geunes became painfully aware of the limitations of his mainly technical background. “In a small company where you have to cover all the bases, it was obvious to me that I didn’t have the tool set to be successful,” he says. At the same time he recognized that even if his business ultimately didn’t succeed, the EMTM degree would provide a foundation for his next career move.

With a struggling business to worry about, Geunes saw that the decision to fund his own education at EMTM was a difficult one. “I wasn’t making a large profit and I didn’t have a nest egg of money. But at the same time attending this program seemed like a no-brainer.” Geunes originally planned to use profits from the sale of his home in order to underwrite the cost of the program, but instead decided to take bank and government loans for the full amount.

Any insecurity he might have had about this risk was allayed at an early campus meeting with program directors. “I remember Dwight Jaggard saying, ‘Let’s talk about the paybacks of this program. I’m not going to talk about the financial paybacks, because they are a given.’ To me, it was really liberating to hear him say that so nonchalantly. At that moment I also realized that the sense of accomplishment and self-fulfillment in completing this degree would be invaluable.”

Shortly after starting the program, Shane folded his company. He took a job at Iron Mountain, a former consulting client. After obtaining two promotions there he moved to Oregon with his wife and accepted a position at Nike, where two years later he was promoted to senior IT manager of business operations. Though his financial investment in EMTM has more than paid off in a near-100 percent increase in salary, Geunes remains most impressed by the enriching experience of attending the program. “I left every class not only knowing I was gaining a competitive advantage, but that I was also making lifelong friends and fully engaging with the subject matter. Each and every weekend was exhilarating.”


“Perhaps if my company had agreed to sponsor me it would have been an easier decision but even so, I had a pretty good sense that the program was going to help me advance my career.”

Bill Kyburz, EMTM‘02
Director of Business Development
General Dynamics Information Technology
Fairfax, VA

“Hedge funds are highly competitive to break into, but EMTM made me much more marketable. In an economy like this one, you have to come from a strong foundation and EMTM differentiates you from other candidates.”

Michael Mumm, EMTM‘08
Risk Analyst

“I left every class not only knowing I was gaining a competitive advantage, but that I was also making lifelong friends and fully engaging with the subject matter. Each and every weekend was exhilarating.”

Shane Geunes, EMTM‘06
Senior IT manager of Business Operations
Nike

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