School of Business Administration

Executive MBA experience elevates company performance, strategy and leadership

icon of a calendarSeptember 1, 2021

icon of a pencilBy Claudette Zolkowski

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Executive MBA experience elevates company performance, strategy and leadership

Liz Halabu Casselman standing in a room with white walls, smiling at the camera.
Liz Halabu Casselman leveraged lessons from the OU Executive MBA program to grow her businesses and strengthen her leadership. Photo by Rob Hall.

Advancing her understanding and “elevating her altitude” gave Liz Halabu Casselman the competence and confidence to increase revenue, invest in bench strength and expand operations of the small businesses she leads.

“OU’s Executive MBA program required a lot of self-reflection, hard work and sacrifice,” said Casselman, who graduated from the program in 2020. “What I learned, I brought directly to the companies I run. From the first class, we were encouraged to always be thinking how (the lessons) apply to your organization.”

To the immediate benefit of her companies, Casselman did just that.

“I took the advice to heart,” Casselman said. “If you’re going to do the homework, you might as well apply to your business.”

The title agency business is a saturated market with a lot of competitors, Casselman explained. She knew her company offered the lowest prices. Until she conducted a competitive analysis utilizing knowledge from her EMBA class, she didn’t realize how much lower.

“I learned we could confidently raise our fees and still be competitive,” she said. “While our cost structure changed, and we are generating more money per transaction, we’re still able to offer a low rate.”

In the rare case when a course wasn’t immediately relevant to her business or industry, Casselman tapped into the experience of her cohorts.

“Your individual experience combined with the experience of your cohorts delivers a well-rounded view of management principles,” she said.

Since the title agency business is regionally based, Casselman said the global supply chain and operations management course didn’t directly apply to her business. However, six months after earning her EMBA, Casselman acquired a commercial overhead door company, whose biggest challenge was global supply chain.

“If a concept doesn’t apply to your field, take it to your cohort to learn the application of the concepts,” Casselman said. “Their expertise is just as valuable. I learned almost as much from my cohort as I did from my professors.”

The Executive Speaker Series brought the lessons to life with real-world business leader perspective and insight.

“The wisdom the speakers shared gave real perspective to day-to-day management and leadership,” Casselman said.

“One speaker shared the phrase ‘elevate your altitude,’” Casselman said, sharing some of the insight she found timely and relevant. “In other words, don’t get stuck in the trenches. That really clicked with me. To lead, you have to stay focused on the big picture.”

Another piece of advice Casselman found immediately relevant was “don’t be afraid to train your replacement.”

“Think like an executive. The responsibilities in your position will still need to be done,” Casselman explained. “If you get the promotion, you will need someone in the role you can count on.”

For Casselman, her investment in the EMBA program paid dividends from the beginning. With the knowledge she gained and the network she formed, she expects to reap returns for a lifetime.

About the OU Executive MBA
Designed for working professionals in or aspiring to leadership roles, the Executive MBA at Oakland University boosts your career momentum while allowing you to maintain your life. With a laser focus on essential business concepts and global perspective combined with proven leadership courses, the rigorous curriculum includes topical issues, C-suite presentations and professional development components. The fully inclusive 21-month program meets Friday afternoons and Saturdays on alternate weekends. Learn more at oakland.edu/emba.

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