Wharton EMBA Is “Not a Check-the-Box Exercise”


Wharton EMBA alumnus Clifton Anderson, WG08, worked for more than a decade in corporate America before launching his own consulting practice, Clifton Anderson Enterprises, in Los Angeles. He now works with corporate clients as well as entrepreneurs, providing services ranging from strategic consulting to leadership training. Clifton recently expanded his business to serve the public sector, and as a way of giving back to his community, speaks in high schools to teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds about leadership.

Why did you want to come to Wharton?

At the time I was planning to get an MBA, I was an executive with Amgen and didn’t want to lose my momentum by taking two years off for a full-time program. But I also wanted a program that was the real deal and that would provide the same learning and experience that I would get at a full-time program. Simply put, I didn’t want a watered down MBA. This would not be a “check-the-box” exercise. As a result of these criteria, Wharton was the only school to which I applied.

How has your Wharton education helped you in your business?

The big picture about business that I gained at Wharton was based on a wide variety of industries and that has been invaluable. Now, no matter what industry my clients are in, 95% of the time I will have had exposure to their industry so I’m not starting from scratch. And the knowledge you get at Wharton is cross-functional. That’s especially beneficial for my entrepreneur clients because I can quickly connect the dots between business development, marketing, sales, operations, and finance and help them succeed.

What were some of the best parts of your Wharton experience?

The connections and conversations outside of and inside my Wharton classes were incredible. There were a number of instances when we were discussing a case study in class and my classmates actually were in leadership roles at the companies we were discussing in the case. They were able to provide insights on what it was like to be on the inside during the timeframe covered by case. That created a very rich learning environment.

And having classmates — who are now lifelong connections — in so many different industries and functions is a huge benefit. When I need perspective on an area, I know I can always call one of my classmates or even someone in the broader Wharton network. By being a Wharton alum, you gain access to this tremendous rolodex.

Was there a particular Wharton experience that really stands out?

One of the best experiences was our international class trip to Brazil and Argentina that I helped organize. It was an eye-opening trip, especially looking back now at Brazil’s growth and its economic success as a country. We were there ahead of that growth and were able to see that success in the making.