So you're thinking about earning an MBA? Now's the time to jump in.
The pandemic has forced employers to take a hard look at what skills are needed from their employees to not only come back stronger, but outlast the next huge curveball.
Here at Siena, we've built our MBA program to include exactly that: the timeless hard and soft skills employers want, and leaders need. And the best part: You can earn your MBA while you continue to work, if you prefer.
Want to know more?
Meet Siena MBA grad Ali Bullis. Ali earned her degree in marketing from Siena in 2015, followed by her MBA with a concentration in strategic management.
WHAT LED YOU TO APPLY TO THE SIENA MBA PROGRAM?
Ever since completing my Siena undergraduate degree in May 2015, I have wanted to pursue an MBA. I felt it was important to get a few years of work experience under my belt in order to take a more practical, hands-on approach to the content.
In 2018, I started looking at various opportunities around the Capital Region. An online program wasn't an option for me; I simply don't learn that way! When I found out in early 2019 that Siena was introducing an MBA program, it just felt right. I appreciated the fact that classes were hybrid as it allowed for face-to-face learning, but didn't put too much scheduling pressure on students, especially those that work full-time such as myself.
I also found the concentrations aligned extremely well with my field, interests and educational goals. Finally, I had a wonderful undergraduate experience and very much wanted to continue my education as a Saint!
WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE LIKE? FAVORITE ASPECTS? FAVORITE COURSE?
As any experience lived since 2020, it was marred by COVID-19. Unfortunately, I only had completed a little over one semester before we shifted to online learning. I definitely didn't get the experience I expected, but I think Siena did a great job in transitioning to Zoom classes and making the experience as seamless and as easy on the students as they could.
My favorite aspect was the sense of community and the practical coursework that was assigned. I really enjoyed the capstone project taught by Dr. Murtagh as it felt like a real-life project. It was really special to be able to present our research and recommendations to President Gibson! It simulated a real-life business presentation.
HOW WAS THE SCHEDULE? WERE YOU WORKING FULL-TIME THROUGHOUT THE PROGRAM?
Yes, I did and still do work full-time at an association management company. As mentioned, I appreciated the hybrid schedule because I only had to make the trip to campus (or to Zoom) once per week. I won't lie, those were very long days. I also travel quite a bit for work which was a challenge, but the professors were great about understanding and allowing for flexibility in those instances. The teachers truly understand that it's a juggle and work with you to make sure you are succeeding in both school and your career.
WHAT CONCENTRATION DID YOU CHOOSE? DID YOU FIND IT RELEVANT?
Because my undergraduate degree is in marketing, I chose the Strategic Management concentration first and foremost in order to diversify myself. Because of the flexibility of the program and the fact that I had some applicable credits from undergrad, I was still able to take most of the marketing courses too, which I really enjoyed.
I think it's important to note that just because you choose one concentration, it doesn't mean you are limited to taking JUST those classes. Dr. Murtagh will work with you to make sure you get the experience and content you want. My job entails a lot of oversight: Board of Directors management, marketing strategy, contract negotiation, administrative duties, financial management, and long-term forecasting and strategic planning, among other things. The Strategic Management concentration was definitely relevant as it touched on almost all of these business functions by integrating a wider scope of content and viewing it from a managerial perspective.
WHAT'S YOUR CURRENT ROLE? HOW DID THE SIENA MBA AFFECT YOUR CAREER PATH?
I've worked as an Association Manager at Capitol Hill Management Services for five years. We provide a complete scope of management services to trade associations and nonprofits. I started as a Junior Association Manager, offering mostly administrative support to more senior colleagues. Over the years I have grown in my career and now service five clients in the areas I listed out in the previous question.
The MBA path has propelled me even further, as I can now offer even more guidance and support to my clients. Furthermore, I have leveraged the knowledge I gained in Dr. Pepe's digital marketing class by encouraging my boss to enhance the digital marketing services we offer our clients and have brought fresh ideas to their overall marketing strategies.
The MBA program also provided me with enough continuing education credits to sit for the CAE (Certified Association Executive) exam, which is a certification that distinguishes association management professions as experts in their field. I plan to sit for the exam this coming December, and if I pass, many many more opportunities will open to me in my field.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND THE SIENA MBA PROGRAM TO OTHERS, AND WHY?
To put it simply: yes! Siena truly is a community-with teachers who demonstrate in every class they are committed to your growth as a student, professional, and most importantly, individual. Classes are small which allows for not only one-on-one attention, but also an atmosphere conducive to lively and interactive class discussions that propel your communication skills, decision making skills and more.
While the program taught specific skills in the field of marketing, finance and accounting, I feel the most important skill I've gained is the ability to think differently in all areas of business. Rather than training me for one specific job or career, the program sharpened my critical thinking skills that I can apply anywhere-making me more marketable and opening opportunities for me I never would have been able to access. I'd do it again in a heartbeat!