Jessica Ross, managing director of cost transformation at Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals in Oakland, CA, came to Wharton San Francisco focused on how an MBA would strategically help her move up the corporate ladder.
However, she found her experience at Wharton San Francisco to be just as much about personal transformation as career advancement.
On New Perspectives
Wharton is about more than just climbing the corporate ladder. Getting the bills paid is important, especially as a single mother. But the new perspectives I’m gaining as a Wharton student are opening my eyes to so much more. I started the program with the approach that “my next job could be anything.”
I didn’t want to limit myself to the opportunities in my existing world of accounting and finance. As a result, I made it a point to take courses outside of my comfort zone. I see myself continuing to climb the ladder, but I’m looking at the world with a much broader view now.
On Personal Transformation
I’ve seen a personal transformation in myself because of this program. I’ve noticed a difference in how I interact with my team, how I interact with my managers, and how I interact with leadership. Prior to coming to Wharton, I was always thinking strategically about the right moves to get to the next level.
Now, I’m more focused on the journey rather than on the end goal. That has given me the confidence to be more vocal with leadership and my peers, which has helped strengthen and build relationships across the organization and allowed me to add value in greater and different ways.
On Global Perspective
A Wharton MBA gives you a global perspective. So many of us come into the program with a predetermined goal of success whether it’s continuing to climb to senior leadership or grow a company. This program gives you an understanding of the concept of creating shared value. That shared value isn’t just about the value within one organization, but rather the value in the broader global community.
A differentiator of this program is the breadth and depth of student experiences. Students bring 10-15 years of work experiences to Wharton from a broad range of industries and professions. My class includes everyone from doctors and attorneys to finance professionals, engineers and entrepreneurs. That brings a richness to our dialogues both in and outside of the classroom.
For example, when we discussed how to strategically enter China in our International Strategy course, a classmate who founded a retail chain could speak to his own experience entering the Chinese market. It’s amazing to watch professors let the classroom take on a life of its own. This is possible because of the types of real-life experiences we bring to the table.
There’s a magic that happens when you bring together a group of dynamic, high-performing individuals who share a common goal. Everyone comes from different walks of life, but we are all here to get as much as we can out of this program.
As you realize you can’t do everything on your own, you start to build relationships with people you might not have normally connected with outside of school because they are in different industries or geographies. The relationships we’ve built here as a result could easily last a lifetime.
On Work-Life Balance
An MBA is challenging for anyone, but then you layer on a full-time career and parenting responsibilities. That really pushed me beyond my capacity for the first time. As a result, I had to strip down to the core to really understand what are the most valuable things, and then layer things back on.
For example, I previously had a hard time saying no to activities. But when I started school, it was clear that all I could really keep on my plate was my children, school and work. I needed to step down or take time off from some of the other activities. It was humbling, but also empowering because I’m more present. When I’m with my kids, I’m focused on being with my kids. When I’m in class, I’m fully engaged with learning. And when I’m at work, I’m concentrating on my responsibilities there.
On the Big Picture
Wharton is a holistic experience. It’s not just about the classroom, the faculty, or your classmates. It’s a life-changing transformation.
Posted: February 12, 2015