Wharton’s MBA for Executives Program is supported by four class managers. Amy Weinstein Hazen is one of our managers based in San Francisco.
How long have you been a class manager?
I joined the Wharton EMBA staff more than six years ago. Previously, I was working in the newspaper industry as a copy editor. I had worked at four different newspapers and every time I started a new job, the situation around me seemed to get worse in terms of layoffs and buyouts. I began thinking about taking my career in a different direction. I was looking into the education field when I saw the class manager posting at Wharton | San Francisco. I was already living in San Francisco at the time, but I am originally from Philadelphia and had earned my Masters in Liberal Arts at Penn so I was very familiar with the school. I applied for the job and here I am!
How was the transition from copy editor to class manager?
The biggest difference was the pace. At the papers, it was all about the daily deadline and making quick decisions every minute of every day. However, in education it doesn’t work that way. Things move at a slower pace with the long-term focus more on class sessions and academic terms. Also, at the newspaper I was more behind the scenes as an editor. As a class manager, I have face-to-face interaction with students and faculty all the time, which makes for a much more colorful day-to-day experience!
How do you describe your role as a class manager?
I am the first point of contact for our students when they have questions. I like to think I know a little bit about a lot of things. So when they come to me, I can offer them my firsthand knowledge and then point them in the right direction to get more information if needed. On the academic side, I work closely with faculty to create class calendars, help with travel from Philadelphia and prepare course materials. I also manage the logistics for students’ weekend sessions, course registration, grades reporting and tuition billing. In addition, I organize students’ hotel stays, plan menus, organize events to involve partners and families, and plan the International Seminar trip and graduation for my class.
Separate from all that, I also help manage and update the Wharton | San Francisco website and I write and distribute our quarterly alumni newsletter. When those projects came up, I was particularly interested in them because of my background in journalism.
What kinds of events do you organize for families?
We’ve taken students and their families to San Francisco Giants games, which is a lot of fun. For some of our international students and their families, this is their first American baseball game. We’ve also gone to see a Cirque de Soleil show, and we’ve done other events like a dinner cruise on the San Francisco Bay. It varies from year to year, but it’s always great to meet family members and involve them in the program.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Class managers are assigned an incoming class and then stay with that class for the entire two years they’re in the program. I really like the cyclical nature of it. Right now, my current group is getting ready to graduate, and on heels of that my new class will start. As one group winds down and graduates, my next class immediately comes in and their energy level is through the roof. That is really revitalizing every two years.
What tips do you give your students to get them through the two years?
It’s really important to stay on top of their work. Especially in the beginning, I caution them not to fall behind. Before they even arrive on campus, they have pre-work and it’s important to start out on the right foot and get that done.
Congratulations on your recent marriage! Did your planning expertise as a class manager help with planning the wedding?
Thanks! It’s been great to hold this job while planning a wedding because the project management aspect of the job really does flow into the project management needed for planning a wedding. However, deciding on a date was tricky. Once we narrowed our window to spring, I knew that whatever we chose, I wanted to be here for my group’s last class session because that is an important milestone in the program. Class managers really bond with their class and I wanted to be here with them during their last time as students on campus.
Can you tell us something about yourself that students might not know?
Travel is probably my biggest passion. I’m lucky because I go on the International Trip with my students as part of my job. The planning is a lot of work, but once I get there I always have a lot of fun. I really enjoy that part of the job.
Also, as an undergraduate student at Penn State, I participated in the Semester-at-Sea Study Abroad Program and fell in love with it. I was fortunate to go back twice this past year on what they call Enrichment Voyages, which are run by the umbrella company that sponsors Semester at Sea. The EV trips are three to four week cruises for people of all ages and run between the academic semesters. On the first recent trip I did in 2012, I spent 25 days at sea. We went from the Bahamas, through the Panama Canal, and finished in San Diego. On the second trip, we sailed all around Western Europe and even made a stop in Africa. On that trip, I worked on the ship as an activities staff member and helped organize some of the workshops and other extracurricular activities for the passengers. In some ways, it was similar to what I do at Wharton. It was a blast!