I became interested in Wharton’s EMBA program when I was working at a small hedge fund in Austin and a principal offered to sponsor my education. I was blown away by the caliber of Wharton’s program. After I was accepted, I made 58 trips from Austin to Philadelphia and had a fabulous time learning from faculty and classmates, many of whom are now lifelong friends.
Uncharted Career Changes
After Wharton, I went on to become CFO of a small energy company. It was a good opportunity to apply what I learned at Wharton to repairing a company. Later, I decided to return to the investment world and joined a firm in Austin where I co-ran an investment management group. I also accepted an offer to join the McCombs School of Business faculty and teach Financial Risk Management to undergraduate seniors, which has been a blast.
Around the time I was working in investment management, one of my best friends from high school moved back to Austin and told me about an idea he had to fix the Internet. I joined him in the venture, thinking we’d make a few dollars. But from that point on, we couldn’t put it down. In 2012, we raised $2 million, resigned from our day jobs, and pushed the gas pedal on our startup as fast as it could go. The company was called Toopher.
Last January, we were approached by Salesforce to join its team. We were lucky in that their values were in alignment with ours, and we both wanted to achieve the same things. Ten weeks later, we closed the deal and now we’re all Salesforce employees. I still see myself as an entrepreneur. I plan to continue solving problems in an entrepreneurial spirit – this is what drives me.
If I hadn’t gone to Wharton, would all of this have happened in my career? No. The Wharton network, brand and credibility have been invaluable. One of our original smaller cofounders was a friend from Wharton’s EMBA program. His childhood friend was our patent attorney. We relied on the Wharton network on both coasts. Before we had funding, I called folks at Wharton San Francisco to ask for help in introducing us to VCs on the West Coast. Through that connectivity, we had seven meetings set up on our first visit. When we met with the VCs, you could tell that the Wharton MBA carries real weight.
This is one of many paths I could have taken as a result of the doors that opened — or could have opened — because of this program. At Wharton, your future is in your own hands and that is very empowering. Looking back, I’m pleased with the path that I chose, but I know I could have done any number of things. Wharton’s EMBA program is an incredibly wise investment of two years. There are other EMBA programs out there, but this is the only one that will give you the toolset to create your own path forward as opposed to just getting to the next job level. It’s designed to unlock your potential.
Posted: April 14, 2016