Reaping Early Rewards
Dana Cole, MBA ’16, highlights benefits of an MBA for rising executives
Dana Cole’s short term goal was to move up from district manager to regional manager at his employer, SIKA Corp, a global supplier of specialty chemicals and materials. That happened sooner than expected as a result of enrolling in Cornell’s Executive MBA program, just 12 miles north of New York City in Palisades, NY. “The Cornell EMBA, Metro NY program has played a major role and has been beneficial in many ways, in just four months,” said Cole. “It’s a real convenience to take classes on the weekends, only a short distance from my office in north New Jersey. The campus style setting is ideal for fostering an exchange of ideas and experiences to enhance learning outside the classroom and, more importantly, has helped me form stronger bonds with my classmates.”
Cole was urged by his superior to apply for the role of regional manager after he had completed the foundation graduate business courses. “Now, I am one of the youngest regional managers in my company and I’ve already achieved a significant goal,” he said. “My MBA experience is giving me the confidence to step into the new position, increase my salary, start managing a larger team and apply what I learn to my current business setting.” Courses in management and leadership for high performance teams has helped bolster his knowledge. In addition, the career management services were highly beneficial. “The workshops, networking events and executive coaching were valuable. The bright, dedicated people behind Cornell’s EMBA Career Ascent Program care about our success. I am now better equipped to connect my personal brand to my passion.”
Like all aspiring corporate executives, Cole’s aim is to reach the highest echelons in his industry. Coming from a technical sales background, he felt the need to make himself more “marketable” considering his limited managerial experience. After graduating with a history and teaching degree, Cole went back to complete technical courses. With over 17 years of experience in technical sales, Cole was looking for an opportunity to hone his managerial and people soft skills. “The reality was that I was too specialized,” he noted and admitted there were a lot of subjects he needed to explore and tackle. “I wanted to invest in myself and be able to influence senior leadership.” Within a few months of joining the program, Cole was promoted and now leads a team of 21 people across sales, technical and customer service or simply a cross-functional team with nine direct reports, which includes P&L responsibility.
Cole’s experience with the Cornell EMBA Metro NY program has “exceeded his expectations.” He especially admires the focus on team work and collaboration, the scope and breadth of the program and general management principles taught with a cross-functional curriculum. Witnessing the program in action, meeting faculty and professors, ties to the residential student community, the efficiency of the program and the collaborative experience were just some of Cole’s highlights and reasons for enrolling. “It’s helped me to procure an Ivy League education with a structure that allows me to have balance with pursuits in my personal and professional life,” he said. He was also impressed with the cross-section of people in his cohort, with backgrounds ranging from investment banking to management consulting to IT to marketing to human resources. Cole also admires the sense of a tight-knit community at Cornell. “During my time in graduate business school I’ve felt Cornell encourages you to network and values building these types of relationships,” said Cole. He appreciates the fact that nearly every alumni event is a forum designed for intense networking. The Cornell Clubs and, professional and entrepreneurial events in various cities provide the perfect backdrop to building your professional network. “It is good to know that people who have come from my background can become industry leaders,” he said.