Working in Los Angeles as the debt and treasury manager for LA World Airports, Marla Bleavins looked at several nearby business schools with EMBA programs when she decided it was time to pursue her MBA degree. However, in addition to wanting a high level of academic rigor, she also wanted to differentiate herself from others in the LA area so she set her sights on Wharton.
“The other programs might have been more convenient or less expensive than Wharton, but I couldn’t get as excited about them,” she says. “It would have been like checking a box to get my degree where so many others in LA go to school, but a Wharton MBA degree would really make my resume stand out.”
She also was wary of attending any “watered down” MBA programs. “At Wharton, the Executive MBA program has the same academic standards, curriculum, text books and even faculty as the full-time program. My diploma won’t look any different from the diploma of a student in Wharton’s full-time MBA program,” explains Bleavins.
After gaining acceptance into Wharton’s executive MBA program, she began commuting every other weekend to Wharton’s campus in San Francisco. Flying to San Francisco on either Thursday nights or Friday mornings, Bleavins – now a second-year student — says it’ never been hard to find flights that work for her schedule.
And given the location of Wharton’s facility in San Francisco’s financial district, she says that it’s been remarkably easy to take public transportation (BART) from the airport to school or share a taxi with other Wharton students on her flight.
“I’ve never flown so frequently in my life, but it’s very doable,” says Bleavins, noting that she usually spends the one-hour flight studying. As for the commute back to LA, she’s starting to take later flights on Saturday nights to spend more time with her classmates in San Francisco.
Of course it helps that shortly after starting Wharton’s EMBA program, she also began a new job for her employer as special projects manager at LAX airport. But even with airport parking and the ability to walk down the hall after work to catch a flight, she says it still took time to adjust to the commuting schedule. “I now look at each weekend session at Wharton as a learning experience that is part of this amazing educational journey.”
She adds, “You really do get used to the commute and it’s so worth the sacrifice given the uniqueness of Wharton’s program. I don’t think I could have found another program in the country that offers what Wharton does in terms of its parity with the full-time MBA program, quality of the professors, academic rigor, and brand of the school. Going to Wharton is a great opportunity to stand out from the crowd.”