How Saint Joseph’s EMBA Program Is Strengthening Careers for Engineering Professionals

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Looking to advance his career, industrial engineer Benjamin Pulver ’20 was looking for business and managerial training in a flexible format. As a customer quality project/program manager at networking systems, services and software company Ciena, Pulver was interested in an MBA program that would give him access to the lessons of CEOs and business leaders across industries.

As a working professional with family responsibilities, Pulver needed a graduate program that would fit his already demanding schedule and supplement the skills he gained in his undergraduate degree in manufacturing engineering from Boston University. He needed a path that would further his business knowledge while he fulfilled his many responsibilities. Saint Joseph’s Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) was the program he needed. 

SJU’s EMBA, the only One-Year Executive MBA program over three-to-five semesters, provides flexibility for students like Pulver who want to further their education while still working full-time. Through a mix of online sessions, and in-person classes on one Friday and two Saturdays per month, EMBA students develop and embrace strategic management and leadership skills with a global business perspective. 

“I wanted to supplement my technical knowledge and engineering mindset with business fundamentals, says Pulver. “I also wanted to increase my leadership development in order to prepare myself for higher level leadership roles. I now speak to C-level leadership with greater confidence.”

Pulver knew that his acumen in engineering would be amplified by a more strategic perspective.

“Completion of this program may possibly accelerate my career track, and allow me to switch career paths into different industries with more ease,” Pulver adds.

And the benefits don’t stop there. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an individual with a terminal degree such as an EMBA can earn up to a 30 percent higher salary than their counterparts without one. 

“Completion of this program may possibly accelerate my career track, and allow me to switch career paths into different industries with more ease."

Benjamin Pulver ’20 (EMBA)

The EMBA advances the career trajectory of individuals from a variety of sectors, says Tim Swift, Ph.D., associate professor of management and interim director of the Pedro Arrupe Center for Business Ethics.

“Pursuing an EMBA to round out an undergraduate engineering degree is smart,” says Swift. “It's a dynamite combo.” Swift explains that engineers, already equipped with a high level of analytical skills and tools, may find themselves needing to learn about how the business operates in order to rise up the ranks within their company.

“Engineers can hit a ceiling because they've never received formal training in communication and conceptualizing ideas,” says Swift. “The skills that they acquire from the EMBA program are often the icing on the cake. In their EMBA coursework, they have been debating, learning how to rephrase and reconceptualize, and polishing up their public speaking skills among others. These new skills give them a leg up on their coworkers.”

Among the other skills that the EMBA students acquire are strategic planning, “soft” management, and quantitative, and diverse technical skills — those someone might not learn as an engineer. Through courses in accounting, marketing, decision science, and finance, students build business acumen and the ability to analyze complex situations. 

Terese Waldron, director of the EMBA program, says that the way the EMBA curriculum is designed is especially critical to developing a formidable and integrated business mindset for students with an engineering background. 

“Our alumni consistently tell us that the cohort structure—being with the same 30-plus students over a one-year or a 20-month period of time—creates a strong, collaborative network for students. This cohort network is also augmented by over 1,000 EMBA alumni over the past 30 years of the SJU program,” says Waldron. “As our EMBA students continue to enhance their company’s culture with what they have learned in their classes, they have not only their business education prowess to bolster their career development, but the confidence and backup of their cohort, team members and our EMBA alumni mentors.”

Waldron says that her goal for students is that they will multiply their contributions within their companies by identifying gaps and new opportunities that may not have been evident to them before. “Giving engineering students this relevant business expertise so often leads to their transformation and career success, another pivotal goal of SJU’s executive program,” says Waldron. 

Waldron adds that in the mid-1950s her own father, Peter Wallack, was a mechanical engineer at General Motors. He was selected to be a Sloan Fellow at M.I.T., one of the country’s earliest versions of today’s Executive MBA programs. And she often shares this personal story with her own students about the long-term value of higher education, not only for the EMBA student, but for his or her family.

If you’re interested in how SJU’s Executive MBA program can benefit your career, the Haub School of Business hosts regular virtual information sessions for prospective students as well as 1:1 sessions. Go to sju.edu/emba to sign up.