When James Kilpatrick, president of the commercial real estate firm NAI Northern California, was invited to an admissions reception for the EMBA Program at Wharton San Francisco, he wasn’t really considering pursuing an MBA. But after attending the event “just for fun,” he was so impressed with the students and alumni — and how their Wharton education was impacting their careers — that he began to research MBA programs that very night.
“I saw it as a way to shift the trajectory of my career and move my company forward, but also as a form of personal development. I found that Wharton’s EMBA program was hands down the right choice because it’s a world apart in terms of the commitment level and culture of the students and the rigor of the curriculum,” recalls Kilpatrick. “It really spoke to me that world-class faculty and students and top companies from thousands of miles away all had this enthusiastic interest in participating in Wharton’s EMBA program in San Francisco.”
Now a first-year executive MBA student at Wharton | San Francisco, he says a highlight of the program has been the guest speakers. “The Wharton brand is very strong and speakers want to come here. We often get one or two major speakers during class sessions, which leads to a jam packed day, but that’s just the way most of us like it. I recently leveraged the Wharton brand and invited my neighbor Tom Perkins to speak. The cofounder of Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers is arguably one of the most successful venture capitalists in the history of Silicon Valley and shared unique insights into the world of VC and entrepreneurship, discussing his views on best practices for investors and entrepreneurs, and answering questions about what types of solutions he might focus on if here were in the shoes of our EMBA class.”
Kilpatrick says that in addition to guest talks, students in the EMBA program at Wharton San Francisco frequently serve as speakers, sharing their experiences at “industry bytes sessions,” which are organized by their peers. “Some of the students have questions related to their own professional situations or are asking the speakers to talk openly about the details of their career decisions. This private forum encourages frank conversation where nothing is held back,” says Kilpatrick, who recently ran a session on real estate.
Those sessions, he notes, reinforce that Wharton’s EMBA program is the right fit for him. “My classmates have substantial insights to share. Just in the field of entrepreneurship alone, many of them have had multiple exits and that leads to awesome industry bytes sessions that probably wouldn’t be possible if we were in a full-time program with younger students.”
He adds, “This program has been enormously impactful so far not just in cultivating a more entrepreneurial mindset, which I need to spin off a piece of technology in my company, but also to continue to grow my real estate firm. I meet with my management team after every class weekend to discuss theories and techniques that I want to immediately implement. Even though I only started last May, we’ve already covered a lot of ground.”