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Newest Crop of Executive MBA Students Is Most Diverse


Students who began Fordham’s executive master of business administration (EMBA) program this semester represent new heights of diversity in gender and background, according to EMBA organizers.

The class of 35 students that recently entered the 22-month intensive program are among the most dynamic and varied ever, said Francis Petit, Ed.D., assistant dean and director of executive programs at the Graduate School of Business Administration (GBA).

For example, 49 percent of the current EMBA students are women, which is a record for the program. That represents a far greater percentage than found at similar programs, which average 33 percent women. Additionally, students in the Fordham program hail from fields that are radically varied, including insurance, manufacturing, medicine, cosmetics, real estate and law.

“You might expect an EMBA program in New York City to be top heavy in finance,” Petit said, “but our goal is to get as diverse a group as we can, so the concept of lateral learning can take place. Our students not only learn from the faculty, but also from each other.”

With 24 percent of the new class born outside the United States—in countries such as Taiwan, Haiti, Belgium and India—each student brings a unique set of perspectives and experiences to the coursework.

In addition to academics, a benefit of Fordham’s EMBA is the camaraderie among students. Activities such as wine tastings and golf seminars provide additional opportunities to work together, Petit said.

“Our goal is to make them leave the program so excited about what they’ve done, it’s become part of their soul,” he said.

Dr. Paul C. McAfee, chief of spinal reconstructive surgery at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Md., makes a monthly pilgrimage to New York for the classes. He consults with 21 medical companies as part of his work, and was attracted to the EMBA’s focus on China, where the group finishes its studies.

“I have to communicate better with CEOs of different companies,” he said. “I have no trouble with communicating on a science basis and medical basis, but I need to translate this in a way that top executives can understand.”

Tahira Ahmed, project manager for the Department of Marketing and Communications at Fordham, said her fellow EMBA students have helped her understand aspects of business that had puzzled her.

In her first class, her team developed a business pitch for home-improvement retailer Lowe’s. Ahmed contributed her knowledge of current housing market trends to the assignment, while a team member who worked in sales helped formulate feasible financial models.

“I can now take away that knowledge and say, ‘This is how I can look at some ideas that I’ve had,’ and really flesh them out and make them work in the real world,” she said.

Michelle MacCarthy, Ahmed’s colleague at Fordham, is working on a dual concentration in global management and marketing. Before deciding on Fordham, MacCarthy spoke with friends who had attended MBA programs at Columbia and New York University.

“They felt that Fordham was a better deal in terms of time spent in class and cost of tuition,” she said. “It seemed that the same case studies and concepts were being covered.”

Abu George, an ordained deacon at a Malankara Orthodox church in Yonkers, started thinking about earning an MBA while working on his master’s degree in divinity at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, N.Y.

“I wanted to go somewhere with high ethical standards,” he said. After Enron, a lot of programs began focusing on high ethics, but as Fordham’s brochure pointed out, that was part of their curriculum from the start.”

Petit also noted that the program’s popularity has increased. In the fiscal year 2009, 70 EMBA students will be enrolled at the GBA, up from 45 in 2005.

“The idea is people’s careers will change, whether they know it or not,” he said. “You jump out of a plane, and whatever is in your backpack is your business survival kit. You don’t know what direction your career is going in, but wherever it goes, you’ll be prepared.”


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