The Boss’ Son: Wharton’s EMBA Program Adds Value and Respected Credential for Student Working in Family Business

Even though Clement Pappas works for his family’s juice bottling business, the decision to earn his EMBA degree at Wharton was a no brainer.

“While it’s likely that if I do a good job I will have an upward career path in my family’s business, I’m also aspiring to be CEO or, at a minimum, work in upper management,” he explains. “I wanted to learn more about all aspects of the business and Wharton has an excellent curriculum that covers every discipline – finance, management, supply chain, strategy, marketing, pricing, new product innovation, and a lot more.  It’s definitely helped me to become a much better, more informed, and more well rounded manager.”

Pappas, who is currently vice president of the Natural and Specialty Sales Division of Clement Pappas Company, based in New Jersey, was even able to take an independent study course on family business, using his company as the basis for a research project. The topic was hiring, retaining, and motivating nonfamily members in a family business, and his paper has since been used as the basis for several HR policies under consideration.

He notes that in addition to broadening his business knowledge, the degree also provides respected credentials. “One thing you face in a family business is that some people will inevitably assume you are just the boss’ son and will get the job no matter what,” he says. “There are a lot of great things about working for your family business, but one challenge is that you often have to prove yourself more than other employees.  Beyond strong job performance, a Wharton MBA is another way to prove myself because it puts a highly respected qualification on the board.”

Another benefit of the program, he says, has been all of the networking that comes along with the intense residential program. “I haven’t done any deals with classmates yet, but one day we may be interested in taking on a private equity partner and I will definitely have some connections in that department,” he says.

“I absolutely recommend Wharton’s EMBA program for others working in family businesses,” adds Pappas, who graduates this spring. “A lot of people may pursue an EMBA degree to help find a new job or gain a promotion, but for people like myself in a family business the knowledge gained and credentials earned are incredibly valuable. Wharton’s program has not only accomplished my goals, it has also exceeded my expectations.”