What is the most distinctive feature of the University of Oregon’s Portland-based executive MBA program? Above all else, it is the program’s students. At the Oregon Executive MBA, accomplished professionals from diverse industries come together to earn their MBAs while they continue to lead full time.
To make sure that everyone in the classroom will contribute at similarly high levels, the program requires all entering students to have at least five years of career-related experience. In fact, because many students exceed this minimum requirement, the typical cohort boasts an average of 14 years of professional experience. This means there are students in every course who have years of experience in the subject being taught and are eager to share their real-world knowledge with the rest of the group.
“I expected the program to be rewarding, but the breadth and depth of knowledge that my classmates provide continues to impress me. It is truly a privilege to collaboratively learn from—and with—such outstanding business leaders,” said student Helen Yu, MBA ’19, associate general counsel at Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette.
“My peers in the cohort bring so much experience to the classroom—and are so generous about sharing it. This is one of the aspects of the program that I find most exciting,” said student Eric Chapin, MBA ’19, a digital supply chain manager at Nike.
Curriculum and Career: A Virtuous Circle
Because executive MBA students engage continuously with their careers during their time in the program, they experience a valuable interplay between work and school.
"The discussions in class and insights from instructors and peers are relevant to the day-to-day scenarios I experience at work. I often find myself immediately applying the concepts I'm learning," said Banning Hendriks, MBA ’19, director of patient experience at Oregon Health Science University.
Faculty Members Skilled in Teaching Accomplished Professionals
The Oregon Executive MBA’s faculty consists of academic leaders from the University of Oregon and expert practitioners with years of experience at some of the region’s most respected organizations.
“Although I was a serial entrepreneur prior to joining the Oregon Executive MBA, the program’s resources proved instrumental in accelerating the success of my current business,” said Jason Patz, MBA ’17, the founder and CEO of Go Trashy Inc., a two-sided digital marketplace for junk removal.
Pursuing Excellence through Executive Coaching
During their time in the program, students take advantage of up to four sessions with one of the program’s executive coaches. Sessions may focus on overall career strategy, specific workplace challenges, ways for students to advance in their current organizations, building new capacities, pursuing new opportunities, and more.
“The executive coaching has absolutely changed the direction of my career and significantly enhanced my experience in the program. I thought I was relatively self-aware, but my coach helped me peel back the layers and challenge my assumptions about myself,” said Caleb Stelle, MBA ’18, director of operations at AWS Elemental.
After enjoying a summer off, students kick off their second year with an eight-to-ten day international trip. Even seasoned travelers find much to value, thanks to an itinerary that provides exclusive entrée to leaders at international and regional organizations.
“I’ve traveled a lot—for work and for myself—but I gained so much from the insider’s access the global study trip provided our group,” said Sonney Sapra, MBA ’18, a healthcare technology advisor at StarBridge Advisors.
“It is very rare that companies share information so frankly. The level of access made the global study trip a truly awesome learning experience for us all,” said Petra Bergarp, MBA ’18, sales director at Aruba, a Hewlett-Packard Company, who has traveled to more than 65 countries.
Bringing It All Together with the Capstone Project
Throughout their second year in the program, students work on their capstone projects, developing, researching, and analyzing a real-world business opportunity for their firm or themselves. One-on-one sessions with faculty advisors help each student along the way. The results of this capstone project can propel students toward entirely new business opportunities—or help burnish their brand within their current organizations.
"I used my capstone project to explore a geographic expansion of our firm’s real estate portfolio into one of three potential new markets. Our ownership is pleased to have me complete a deep-dive into the expansion, which will help us make a decision about opening a new market," said Michael Martin-Tellis, MBA ’18, an assistant vice president of finance at a real-estate company.
Graduate to a Robust Alumni Network
Even before they graduate, students are welcomed into the Oregon Executive MBA’s alumni network of more than 1,000 business leaders—as well as the more than 36,000 alumni of the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business. Frequent events for alumni and students allow professional networks—and meaningful friendships—to develop organically. For program graduates, commencement in June is just the latest phase in what will become a lifelong connection with the region’s most accomplished professionals.