The MBA Journey
Students in Lehigh’s inaugural 1-MBA class find new opportunities await. Here are four of their stories.
With a psychology undergraduate degree and experience in Human Resources, Alexandra Chorney decided it was time to change careers.
She set her sights on garnering a wide-range of opportunities in marketing/e-commerce. As part of her 1-MBA experience, Alexandra is working at QVC in West Chester, Pennsylvania, in the apparel and accessories, and home and décor divisions. Her responsibilities include web-based research and working on web pages that list products, compare competitors’ prices and advertise sale items.
Chorney observed that the same terms used in the classroom were applied at QVC. “This is really cool, because I never took a fashion class before, but getting my MBA I [understood the language when I] spoke with different leaders within this organization,” she said.
Exposure to different companies and different industries “opens your eyes as to how much is out there, and getting my MBA at Lehigh is providing that foundation,” Chorney said.
She notes that the professional development and leadership negotiation is helping her transition into new opportunities and her time at QVC is helping her realize the value of earning an MBA.
After 22 years with the Allentown (Pa.) Police Department, including stints as a police officer and captain, Rick London was nearing retirement and longing for an new career. The idea of pursuing an MBA was appealing, especially Lehigh’s full-time, one-year program.
“It seemed like a great opportunity with a short one-year turnaround to package all the law enforcement and business skills in one place,” London said.
Leveraging his background in law enforcement, he embraced the opportunity to consult for Genetec, a technology company based in Montreal, as part of his 1-MBA experience.
“I worked with them as a vendor when I worked in law enforcement, and they make products that I want to advocate for those involved in law enforcement, specifically police officers,” he said.
The company also produces security software for the retail and educational services industries. Among its services are IP video surveillance, access control to buildings and automated license plate readers.
London helped create marketing strategies to demonstrate how Genetec’s products could help police officers on the job. Though he worked remotely from Pennsylvania, he also attended police technology expos across the United States-including in Florida, New Jersey, Texas—and in Montreal.
“When I began to plan my transition, I saw myself in the field I am in now,” London said. “I had a lot of apprehension that the change would be difficult, or I would not measure up to my peers.” He now sees that he does have the ability not only to make this transition, but to excel in this field.
Thomas Ford received his undergraduate degree in supply chain management from Lehigh’s College of Business and Economic in 2008. After a few years in the workforce, he decided the time was right for him to focus on earning his MBA, which he felt would open doors to new career opportunities within the industry. “I was particularly drawn to the heavy mentorship and advising aspect of the [Lehigh] program,” he said, “coupled with the fact that it was a one-year program.”
One of Ford’s goals as an MBA student was to learn “new skills and modes of thought within supply chain that I hadn’t been exposed to before.” As part of his 1-MBA experience, he had an opportunity to work at Tesla in California, which he knew as a pioneer in a variety of fields. “But I was still awed by how aggressive the company is in its rapid expansion in the transportation, energy and sustainability sectors,” he says.
Ford worked in logistics management, and he says there was “no such thing as a typical day. …Tesla is a really fast-paced, progressive company and in the throes of launching its new line of Model 3 cars, which has been a lot of my focus.”
Ford also attended a Tesla-sponsored event in Palo Alto, California, where panelists who held various roles at Tesla discussed the stress and pressures of finishing their own educational programs. He also experienced a self-driving car.
“There are a lot of moving parts in the supply chain field,” Ford says.
“My time at Tesla has reiterated to me just how valuable soft skills are to gain trust and build relationships in cross-functional teams.”
Suzanne Zar felt she had hit a plateau in her career at a pharmaceutical marketing company. After providing guidance to friends and encouraging them to pursue their MBA or master’s-level programs, she decided it was time for her to make a life change. She left her longtime job and relocated to Bethlehem to enroll in Lehigh’s 1-MBA.
“I felt it was my time to make an investment in myself,” she said. “I’ve never stopped and given this much back to myself.”
Zar’s goal is to remain in the pharmaceutical industry. With the opportunity to work at Bayer in Whippany, New Jersey, as part of her 1-MBA experience, she was able to expand her industry knowledge into the technology segment of the business.
She worked primarily on a medication adherence app used to manage side effects patients experience while taking oral oncology medications. The app is a communication tool between patients and physicians, with patients answering questions about how they are responding to the medicine that pertain to the frequency and severity of their side effects. Based on a specific algorithm, case workers who monitor the responses of the app on a real-time basis can follow up with patients with a phone call to discuss the side effects and, if necessary, advise follow-up care with their physicians.
“The two-way communication helps patients have better adherence to drug protocols that result in greater health outcomes and efficacy,” she said.
Zar said she took the initiative to get the app off the ground. She spoke with a variety of internal stakeholders and multiple vendors, and submitted proposals for the app’s development and customization costs. She worked closely with the brand team, attended meetings with high-level decision-makers and provided updates on her progress. She said that the strong relationships she formed at Bayer are valuable benefits of her 1-MBA experience.
Story by Lauryn Ragone