Kevin Hanson, WG’20, had thought about getting an MBA for a long time. But thinking about applying and actually going through with it are two different things, especially with young kids.
He explained, “My wife and I figured that an MBA with two young kids would be challenging, but we also wanted a third child. Waiting until we had three kids would only make it harder! It was now or never. She knew how important this degree was to me and encouraged me to apply. Once I was accepted, the thought of being away every other weekend away from our toddler and newborn, along with writing large tuition checks, set in. There was a lot to consider.”
Looking at EMBA programs, Kevin decided on Wharton, as it “provided full-time MBA rigor and a top brand.”
He also found the executive format to be the most conducive to work-life balance. “The residency requirement means that students stay at the same hotel on Friday nights of class weekends, which would help me set boundaries and expectations. The school schedule is posted in advance and does not change, so my family could count on it. They would know when I would be at school and when I would be home,” he said, noting that his wife gave birth to their second child the same month that he was accepted to Wharton.
Looking back, Kevin pointed to six steps that helped him find balance:
1. Prioritize time for family.
“We took that two-year school calendar and blocked everything off, including time for family vacations between terms. My family was a top priority, and it was important to plan time together to decompress.”
2. Allocate time for school.
“I accepted that there were times when I would have to focus on school and trust that things at home were fine. Even if the baby threw up as I was leaving the house and my wife seemed frazzled, I had to rationalize that everyone would be OK and turn off that worry because it wasn’t productive.”
3. Organize support.
“My in-laws helped out to give my wife a break on some weekends. My parents also spent a weekend with the kids so my wife could stay at the hotel with me, get to know my classmates, and enjoy a weekend away from home.”
4. Work around bedtime.
“I did video calls with classmates during the week around my kids’ bedtimes. It became a fun tradition for my son to briefly join our meetings to say goodnight to my teammates before he went to bed. He referred to Wharton as ‘Daddy’s Preschool’ and always loved seeing my ‘preschool friends’ on the screen.”
5. Learn to be present.
“Wharton was a lesson in being present in the moment. You have your job, your academics, and your family to think about. When I was in the office, I was focused on work. At Wharton, I focused on learning and developing relationships with classmates. And when I was at the park with my kids, I was fully present to push them on the swings and not check my phone on the side.”
6. Campus visits.
“Wharton is a welcoming environment for families. Have your spouse sit in a class or bring your kids to lunch! At first, I worried that my kids would be a distraction if I brought them to campus. However, everyone was excited to meet them, and it made my family part of the experience.”
Kevin noted that it is also important to take the time to enjoy the program. “Wharton was one of the best experiences of my life. It’s easy to get wrapped up in stress because there is so much to do, but just make sure to enjoy the ride. It will be over before you know it. I got a great education and forged friendships that I’ll have for the rest of my life.”
He added that he is already seeing a career impact, having transitioned from a sales role to a business development role for a new group at Google. “I don’t think I would have gotten through the interview process without this program. Wharton has helped make me more competent in this new role and positions me for longer-term growth.”
– By Meghan Laska
Posted: June 19, 2021