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First Class

Executive Women’s MBA students find friendship, support through the program

As the Executive Women’s Master of Business Administration at The Women’s College of Brenau University wraps up its inaugural year this fall, the trailblazing women in the program’s first cohort already know they have made lifelong friends.

The catalyst for those friendships came during the program’s New York City residency in February. The students, who had yet to meet as a group in person, hit it off instantly as they navigated a jam-packed weekend that included executive coaching, self-assessment courses, dinner with Brenau alumni and more.

“There was no awkwardness or tension,” says Katie McReynolds about meeting her fellow students for the first time. “It was just like family coming together. Every single night we were in New York City, we were so excited to all be together that we were staying up until one or two in the morning just so we could spend time with each other. We all came away from that weekend absolutely exhausted because we were having so much fun.”

McReynolds, who is from Tennessee and had no previous connections to Gainesville, Georgia, or Brenau, says she had been looking to get her MBA for a while to further her career. She stumbled upon Brenau’s program on the Instagram page of MBAchic, a partner of Brenau’s Executive Women’s MBA.

“Nothing really spoke to me,” McReynolds says. “It wasn’t until I read about Brenau’s program that it really clicked. I knew it was the right time and the right program. I knew that I needed to participate in it. I think I applied the next day.”

The Executive Women’s MBA is a program designed to equip and promote women who are currently successful in the workplace looking to advance to the C-suite. The program features content and conversations that address gender-specific challenges facing their careers woven into rigorous and innovative coursework.

In addition to New York, the 20-month program also includes residencies in Atlanta and another with an international focus. During the residencies, students learn finance, leadership, international trade, global awareness and diversity, and corporate social responsibility.

“When we went to the residency in February, it was evident that this program was designed exactly the way it needed to be,” says Juli Clay, assistant vice president for executive programs. “These women latched on to each other, and they will tell you that they have survived difficult times because of that relationship they have. They lean on each other.”

Calla Busby from Macon, Georgia, says it’s not unusual for her and the other students to call or text each other out of the blue. “It’s nice to know you have supportive sisters,” she says.

The Executive Women’s MBA also brings “thought leaders” — ranging from authors and executives to entrepreneurs and playwrights — into the virtual classroom through the Executive Women’s Speaker Series sponsored by the Northeast Georgia Health System. Some women who have shared their experiences and insights to the program include Penny Collins, president of Women in Technology; Kay Y. Wallace, former president and CEO of National Black MBA Association; and Kim Powell, author of The CEO Next Door and former speaker at Brenau’s Women’s Leadership Colloquium, hosted by The Women’s College.

“The level of discussions we have and the number of women we’ve been able to meet in the C-suite is mind-blowing,” Busby says. “We are able to ask questions and have answers right back. This is the kind of thing that only happens once in a lifetime.”

For more information on the Executive Women’s MBA, visit ewmba.brenau.edu.

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