Jennifer Fisher (EMBA 2017) is the Vice President of Sales at Rethink Ed, providing evidence-based learning solutions, technology-based tools and resources, and on-demand video instruction for K-12 administrators, teachers, students, and their parents in the areas of social-emotional learning, mental health, and special education.
Jennifer Fisher was already a successful businesswoman when she decided to pursue her Executive MBA. Then an Account General Manager at Pearson, with a decade and a half's experience in educational sales and marketing roles, she hoped to land an executive-level position for the opportunity to lead and mentor others.
Just before graduating with her MBA, Jennifer was recruited by TWG Plus. When she accepted a role there as Vice President of Business Development, she transitioned from the K-12 marketplace to higher education. "What we couldn't have anticipated," Jennifer reflects, "was how quickly the higher education market was going to evolve over the next two years." Citing the rising cost of college as one reason why student enrollment was plummeting, Jennifer wanted to transition to a space where she could have an impact on the shift the market was making. That's when she joined Trilogy Education, which focuses on technology bootcamps and up-skilling/re-skilling for next-generation marketplaces, before eventually returning to the K-12 marketplace with Rethink Ed.
Supporting Jennifer through all of that change was, she says, the skills she developed in the Baylor EMBA program—specifically, big-picture thinking. "I'm not just thinking about sales; I'm thinking, How does the work I do impact the entire organization? Are we helping our customers be impactful, measurable, sustainable over time?" Big-picture thinking is also part of servant leadership, another core tenet of the Baylor model, which according to Jennifer means "putting your people first and modeling expectations for your team, setting them as high for yourself, every day, as you would for others."
At the time Jennifer was first accepted into the program, her manager at Pearson was "very supportive," but Jennifer knew taking on a full-time masters program in addition to a full-time career would be as challenging as it was rewarding. "Sales careers typically involve greater than 40-50 hours per week," states Jennifer. "You're not just working 9-5, but nights and weekends, conferences, and preparation for all kinds of customer events." Used to the hectic schedule, she "just made it work."
Upon graduation, Jennifer was asked to be her class's commencement speaker. The Baylor program doesn't recognize a valedictorian; instead, it chooses one student to represent the cohort. Jennifer believes she was picked for two reasons: "Females are often underrepresented in business programs, and our program director wanted to highlight leadership from a woman's perspective." Secondly, as one of the more seasoned students in her cohort, Jennifer had a lot of leadership experience on which to draw.
In her speech, Jennifer recalled a trip she took to Fort Davis, one of the "darkest" (in terms of the absence of light pollution) spots in North America. She attended a star party at the McDonald Observatory, where she was struck by the way that astronomers use scientific tools to study planets they can't actually see. Extending that metaphor, she wrote: "It's easy to imagine we are surrounded by vast, concentric circles in which opportunities orbit like unseen planets waiting to be discovered […] with the right tools. Thanks to Baylor's Executive MBA Program, our tool boxes are much better equipped than when we started."
The speech was heard and felt by those students who'd made it through the program with her—which was not everyone. "Potential students need to consider the challenge of managing school with other parts of their lives," Jennifer says. "It's tough to work and go to school; you need a support system in place."
She warns that "entering an MBA program is a very big decision. There's something to be said for not going too soon. You need to have a certain amount of work experience for it to be relevant." However, she affirms: "When you decide it's the right fit for you, and you fully commit—it's the most rewarding decision you can make."
Investing your time into an Executive MBA is a big step. That is why, at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business we are committed to helping you juggle work, school and family responsibilities through our signature Learn Life Balance.
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