Jessie Janota, MBA ’20, figured she was done with school for the rest of her life. After all, she’d already earned a master’s degree in forestry and natural resources. Her career was in great shape, too, with a director-level position at the health technology nonprofit OCHIN and the likelihood of future promotions.
In fact, when her good friend Katie Werremeyer, MBA ’15, started at the Oregon Executive MBA in 2013, Janota wasn’t sure why anyone would want to add a rigorous academic program to a life already packed with personal and professional commitments.
But during the next few years, Janota's circumstances changed. OCHIN was growing—from 60 or so people when Janota first started in 2010 to around 500 staff members today—and Janota’s responsibilities were likewise expanding. At the same time, Janota’s personal life evolved, leaving her schedule more flexible than it had been.
Getting an MBA started to seem more appealing.
Janota began researching part-time MBA programs in the Portland region—always keeping Werremeyer’s recommendation in the back of her mind.
A visit to the Oregon Executive MBA's facility in Portland’s Old Town Chinatown neighborhood made all the difference. After meeting with Paul Allen, who heads up the program's admissions, Janota sat in on a session of Nagesh Murthy’s supply chain course.
“I just fell in love with what I was seeing,” she said.
When she started in the program in September 2018, Janota had three goals in mind: to gain a solid business background, to expand her network, and to grow professionally.
“Before the Oregon Executive MBA, I had never taken a business course in my life. Everything I knew about business, I had learned through work. That meant I only knew how things operated at OCHIN,” said Janota.
Along with the program's coursework, Janota found that talking with classmates—both in and out of the classroom—provided the insight into best practices in different industries that she was looking for.
For Janota, broadening her network started right away, when she connected with fellow students during the intensive orientation that kicks off students’ time at the Oregon Executive MBA. The multi-day experience included a grounding in back-to-the-classroom basics—like how to tackle a business case—as well as a range of team-building exercises.
The bond among all of Janota's classmates grew even stronger during the students' eight-day global study trip to Southeast Asia—a blend of company visits and cultural immersion.
“The business meetings felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Regardless of whether the visits were to industries directly connected to my own work, I took away something from each one,” said Janota.
Janota’s pursuit of professional growth also saw tangible—and rapid—results. A month before Janota completed her first year in the program, OCHIN promoted her to vice president of electronic health records and customer success.
Joining OCHIN’s executive suite and managing an additional team at work, while also tackling a rigorous degree program, had its challenging moments.
“I had some very late nights just getting through the coursework while still having all these responsibilities,” said Janota. “But you just try your best to strike a balance. And all of us in the program are always having to figure out that balance.”
Proud as she is of her new role at the company, for Janota the achievement goes well beyond an impressive title and the privilege of putting MBA after her name.
“I expected to learn new content and new information, but I’ve also really grown as a person. The program was just something that I really needed when it happened, in ways that I didn't even know when I started,” said Janota.
—Kit Alderdice, Lundquist College Communications