First Executive Women’s MBA cohort completes program

After 20 months, 10 courses, three residencies and countless hours of studying, the first cohort of the Executive Women’s Master of Business Administration program in The Women’s College of Brenau University finished in August with a residency in Atlanta and Gainesville.

During the residency, the women were able to meet with female vineyard owners, directors and managers from the High Museum and Beth Marshall, vice president of communications for the Atlanta Braves. The women also had the chance to visit Brenau’s historic Gainesville campus and meet some of the faculty and staff in person.

“With a lot of online programs, the students never stepped foot on their actual campus,” says Juli Clay, chair of communication and assistant vice president for executive programs. “We were able to bring them to campus to have lunch and take a tour, but we made sure to introduce them to some of the more fun Brenau traditions as well.”

Clay said one of her favorite parts about the first cohort was the connection the students made. 

“I think the students really formed a network and have a bond that they’ll take long beyond Brenau,” she says. “One of the highlights of the program for us was watching the students really solidify that bond to one another, despite differences in industries and backgrounds. And then to really extend their network through the series of thought leaders that we introduced them to and guest speakers at residencies, it was great to watch them expand their professional network as well.” 

The program started in January 2020 with the students traveling a month later to New York for a weekend packed with meetings, lectures and sightseeing. The New York residency was also the first time the women had been able to spend an extended period of time together.

“New York was a fantastic experience,” says Kristen Brown, WC ’11 & ’21, one of the women who finished the program. “It was great because we got to meet all these different powerful women in all these different fields from entertainment to finance. But the best part of New York outside of meeting all those different people and going out to different places was the bonding that we got to do with our cohort. We left there a family, and we’ve been close ever since. I think that having that time really made a big difference.”

International flavor

Although the cohort was unable to do an international residency abroad this year, they managed to have an international experience domestically when they took a trip outside of Boone, North Carolina. A chef there created an international menu inspired by the various countries the speakers were from. The cohort also had a tea class with the owner of a Taiwanese tea company and took part in a traditional African dance class to stretch after being on Zoom for so long.

“We were able to bring 19 speakers from 13 countries to our students,” Clay says. “Even though we weren’t able to travel internationally, we were able to bring that international perspective to the program in a reimagined way.”

After so much hard work, Brown, who works as the director of digital content at 11Alive News in Atlanta, is excited to have completed her Executive Women’s MBA and plans on using what she learned immediately.

“The whole goal is to get into the C-suite, and I’ll use my degree and what I learned to get there,” Brown says.  “We had classes that focused on management style and leadership, and I’m going to be able to use that immediately to help build up my team and create really good relationships with them.”

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