Wharton’s Executive MBA Program is supported by four class managers. Meet Wharton San Francisco class manager Juana Droessler.
What brought you to Wharton?
I was enjoying some time off after retiring from SBC Communications (now AT&T), and I wasn’t thinking about my next career move. At the time, my two sons were both Wharton undergraduate students, and I read in the student newspaper that a Wharton campus was opening up in San Francisco. I was already impressed with Wharton and thrilled that an MBA program of that caliber was opening up here in the Bay Area, and so I immediately applied for a position. It was very exciting in 2001 to be part of the three-person staff establishing Wharton | San Francisco for the first class of 65 students.
How does your prior experience help you as a class manager?
Having been on the business side, I fully understand how challenging it is to have a demanding job and go to school on top of having family and community responsibilities. As class managers, our common goal is to help students get through the program and enjoy the experience.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Getting to know the students and faculty. I work on calendars, trip planning, academic advising, session logistics, general operations and social events. Being at a smaller campus in San Francisco means that our faculty are just down the hall and very available. We see how much work they put into the classes, and also see how excited students are to learn and apply that new knowledge. Our professors are amazing; to be reading a publication and seeing one of our professors quoted still impresses me.
How is the new facility in San Francisco?
Students, alumni and visitors are in complete agreement: Wharton | San Francisco is an exceptional campus. The architecture and view are beautiful and the technology is state-of-the-art. We now have a great space for our larger classes and events, as we’ve gained a large-tiered classroom and more study rooms. It makes a statement about Wharton’s commitment to the West Coast.
There is a strong interest in entrepreneurship at Wharton | San Francisco. How have you been involved in that area?
I helped develop the business plan that led to the establishment of Wharton Entrepreneurship in San Francisco. We now have a senior associate director of entrepreneurship, Irina Yuen, based on this campus, and there is a lot going on in that area with programs and events. Our students come from a mix of backgrounds, but a good number of them are interested in entrepreneurship and innovation so I like to stay connected to that area.
Class managers get a lot of student requests. What are some of the most common ones?
Aside from academic questions, I work with students a lot on scheduling. There are many activities that students organize like club events and Industry Bytes that need to fit into the weekend.
What are Industry Bytes?
Industry Bytes are panel discussions in which students share their industry experiences. Their candid and knowledgeable insights reinforce the impact that classmates can have within a class.
What advice do you give students?
Get to know your classmates well. They will be with you long after graduation. The days are full and it takes some effort to make time for out-of-classroom talk, but it’s an important element of the full Wharton experience.
Can you tell us something about yourself that students might not know?
As the mother of two sons, I’m delighted to now have an 18-month-old granddaughter, Abbie.