In less than two weeks, the class of 2016 will begin their University of Illinois EMBA experience, and our class will graduate to the rank of “second-years” – with all of the rights and responsibilities that come with such a lofty and deserved rank. The most notable responsibility, of course, is the obligation to buy drinks for incoming students at the Elephant & Castle – allowing us the opportunity to expound about all that we come to learn.
All that we have come to learn. My how the time flies! Has it really been one year since our journey as EMBA students began?
We have seven months left of class. MY GOD – we ONLY have seven months left of class!
For me, the EMBA program was a chance to level set against other individuals from diverse backgrounds. The EMBA program was a chance to learn more about finance – to learn to better speak the language of the boardroom. It was a credential that would provide a degree of credibility when attempting to ascend the corporate ladder.
It has been all of those things – but oh, how naïve I was.
One of the advantages of our classroom is that at any given moment, you can pretty much see everyone (or anyone) at any time.
- I see the doctor and the one with a doctorate.
- I see the entrepreneurs.
- I see the human resources executives.
- I see all those who design, or manufacture, or sell.
- I see those who work with numbers – and those who fear numbers.
- I see those who love what they do and the companies they work for, and I see those who are dreaming of their next opportunity.
- I see mothers and fathers.
- I see those who travel for their work.
- I see those who sacrifice on a variety of fronts to be here.
- I see current – and future – c-suite executives.
- I see talent – amazing talent, and I see professors – some of the best – both teaching and learning from that diverse talent across the room.
- I see intellectual curiosity, and I see the passion that comes with challenging the status quo.
- I see how the value of our collective thoughts and ideas is often greater than the sum of our individual parts.
- I see the competition, but I also see the desire to not only better one’s self but to bring others along with them on their journey.
Most importantly, though, I see a network of resources that I can draw upon for the rest of my life. I see potential colleagues – classmates that I enjoy being around and working with so much that I am dreaming of ways that I can leverage those relationships to make a difference in the future. Somewhere. Together.
I see friends.
The EMBA program has been everything I wanted it to be and so much more. The company man in me uses my MBA education daily. The dreamer in me sees a world of possibility for how to apply my MBA to whatever path I choose in the future. China is less than eight months away. We are in the home stretch.
We are now second-years.
Finally, let me thank Mr. Matthew J. Coleman for allowing me the opportunity to guest-write an entry to our class blog. Let me also praise his writings to date. Matt’s insights not only capture the EMBA experience but his intellect and sense of humor take his musings to another level. It is truly an honor and a privilege to be your classmate, teammate, and friend, Mr. Coleman.
Oh, and one more thing – CONGRATULATIONS, TEAM SCOTCH on your MarkStrat victory! You are truly the embodiment of a high-functioning team – in the fictitious world of Sonites and Vodites anyway. :)
James J. Wilhelm
Illinois EMBA 2015