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Executive MBA stands out for couple’s career plans

Monday, February 24, 2014
Executive MBA stands out for couple’s career plans

Allison Brauer, BSN ’07, EMBA ’12, credits the Oakland University Executive MBA program with giving her the tools to rise through the ranks at Doctors’ Hospital of Michigan in Pontiac, and later to launch a medical billing company.

With sights on opening his own business in the future, Allison’s husband, Marc, a mechanical engineer and product lifecycle management systems manager at General Motors, enrolled in the program soon after Allison graduated.

With both in the market for an MBA program, the Brauers researched their options and charted their findings together. In a side-by-side comparison, the Oakland University Executive MBA program stood out for both.

The biggest draw? The elite AACSB-International accreditation Oakland University’s business school holds in business and accounting. OU’s Executive MBA also offered specific concentrations for each Brauer — health care management for Allison and information systems leadership for Marc.

With career and family commitments -- the Brauers have three children -- they chose to stagger their enrollment.

At the urging of her employer, Allison enrolled first. Witnessing her leadership potential, the hospital CEO and board of directors asked her to consider an MBA program to prepare her for a senior leadership position.

Immediate payoff

A nursing manager when she enrolled in OU’s Executive MBA program in 2010, Allison supervised a staff of 46 and managed a $6 million budget. Six months into the program, she was promoted to director of quality. Six months after graduating, she was promoted to chief executive of nursing.

“It catapulted me,” Allison says. “I would learn something Friday and Saturday, and on Monday, I was successfully using what I had just learned.”

“I was able to apply the entire breadth of the classes, as a package, to the real world quickly,” she adds. “The projects I worked on for class increased my visibility right away.”

Classes taught her how to use data to make decisions and create strategies. She learned different ways of reading financial statements and how to put together a marketing plan.

The program’s hands-on learning style, where students use real-life business cases to analyze and solve problems as a team, helped her discover and apply different approaches to leadership.

“The ability to apply concepts helped solidify things for me,” she adds. “When I talk to folks who’ve gone through other programs, they frequently say they did not have as much of a chance to apply things.”

The program also gave her the confidence and support to take the leap and start her own business. In late 2013, she founded Reliable Billing Services, a medical billing services and regulatory compliance company, where she serves as partner, marketing and sales director, strategic planner and consultant.

“I have always wanted to be in charge of my own destiny,” she says.

Cohort-style program a plus

A year into his Executive MBA program Marc is also pleased with his experience.

“I really like attending school with professionals who are in a similar place in their careers as I am and who come from different companies and industries,” Marc says.

Students in the program have an average of 15 years work experience, which allows the group to have dynamic classroom discussions backed by real-world knowledge.

“I appreciate the wide range of topics, the mix of university professors, the experts who come in from different industries to teach and the diversity of the student body,” he says.

“The cohort structure is one of the program’s best assets,” Marc adds. Students take the program’s core business classes together and later split into electives for concentrations in health care management or information systems leadership.

Allison agrees the peer group is one of the program’s greatest strengths. She continues to reap the benefits of the relationships she built with her peers and faculty. “We keep in touch and help each other with opportunities,” she adds.

About the OU Executive MBA program:

OU’s Executive MBA program is designed for professionals who are currently engaged in successful careers and want to build a strong business foundation while enhancing their leadership and management skills. The program offers the schedule flexibility required for a full-time executive. Concentrations in health care management and information systems leadership are available. The two-year program meets biweekly for classes and offers online support and flexibility to accommodate working professionals attending school while working. A maximum of 30 students are admitted to the 39-credit hour, 21-month program annually.


By Margarita Bauza Wagerson