Wharton’s Executive MBA Program is supported by four class managers: two in Philadelphia and two in San Francisco. Diane Harvey joined Wharton’s EMBA staff in Philadelphia as a class manager in 1991. Read more about Diane and her experience at Wharton below.
Q. What does a class manager do?
We pretty much organize everything that goes on during class weekends. We work with the faculty members who teach each term and create the schedules, coordinating with them on a bi-weekly basis. For students, we do everything that needs doing, other than going to class and doing their homework for them. We book their classrooms, organize course materials for each weekend, handle logistics like hotel reservations, plan breaks and meals, organize social events, and manage anything else necessary for the program to run smoothly.
Q. Do you get requests from individual students?
I get all kinds of requests. Right now, I’m writing a letter to someone’s sponsor about how well they did during this term, and I’m changing someone else’s hotel reservations.
Q. What is the oddest request you’ve gotten?
A student was moving to Italy for work and asked me to watch his puppy for an afternoon until his parents could pick it up. I said yes, and the puppy stayed in his crate by my desk that afternoon.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy being with the students and helping them out. It’s rewarding because they are very grateful for what we do for them. It’s also great to meet their partners and kids. It’s like being part of a 100-person family. We get close to a lot of students during their time here.
Q. What tips do you give students for their two years at Wharton?
I tell them that, whatever happens, remember to breathe. The people who come through this program have always been very successful and at the top of their class. Given that each EMBA class in Philadelphia has between 100-120 students, not everyone can be at the top and this can be tough. When this happens, I tell them it’s not time to give up. They can do it!
A lot of it has to do with managing expectations. The first year is very quantitative and if you don’t have a lot of quant experience then it can seem overwhelming. It’s a less competitive environment than they might think and students need to know that they will learn as much from their peers as the faculty. There is a lot of cooperation and support among students.
I also tell them they will develop lifelong friendships here, especially with their study groups. I recently went to a party of a study group that graduated in 1996. They still get together at least once a year.
Q. Where did you grow up?
Just outside London.
Q. What were you doing prior to working at Wharton?
I went to a teacher training college on the south coast of England and then taught at a big country high school. My brother lived in Philadelphia, so eventually I came here too. I started working for Aramark at the Steinberg Conference Center on campus as a front desk manager in the executive education facility. At that time, Wharton’s EMBA office was located upstairs so I got to know the staff. When the position of class manager was posted in 1991, I applied and joined them.
Q. Can you tell us something about yourself that students might not know?
I’m an animal lover. I didn’t have any pets as a kid because I grew up in local authority owned housing, but now I have two rescue dogs: Isaac and Zoe. Also, I was the first person in my family to go to college.