Sallie Wong, WG’19, wanted an MBA to help her transition out of corporate finance into a role in corporate strategy. She was also looking to fill in her knowledge gaps in areas like strategy, marketing, and operations in order to think strategically and holistically from an executive’s standpoint.
“As a first-generation college and graduate student, I consider education as the most powerful investment in my future. I wanted to make sure that I selected the right school and Wharton’s EMBA program in San Francisco immediately became my top choice,” she said.
Deciding on Wharton’s EMBA Program
Sallie pointed to several factors that differentiated Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives:
“The format of this program made more sense for me because I could keep working and growing professionally without having to take two years off for school. The residential aspect allows students to disconnect from work, family, and other personal obligations during class weekends. This focus enhanced my learning experience and enabled me to develop stronger bonds with my professors and peers. Most importantly, I was able to apply new knowledge and concepts immediately from classes to work.”
A Diverse Network
“Wharton offers an extraordinary learning environment in which I could interact with world-class leaders and highly accomplished individuals from different backgrounds, and learn best practices that I could share with my teams at work.”
Sense of Community
“I had a strong welcoming feeling when I visited the San Francisco campus. I knew I wanted to be part of this community. During the program, women at Wharton constantly came together to discuss the issues women face in the workplace. That was truly inspiring and helped me to develop confidence through empowerment.”
“Our career advisers organized a series of career events and workshops to connect current students with alumni. Through meeting alumni with similar backgrounds and experiences, I was inspired by their stories and could see myself following their footsteps. I learned to value my background and experience more and realized my true potentials and strengths. After my two years at Wharton, I have become more assertive and confident as a corporate finance leader.”
West Coast Campus
“I was working in San Francisco and it was convenient to be able to attend an Ivy League MBA program close to home. Later, when I moved to New York City, the bicoastal aspect was invaluable because I could transfer to the Philadelphia campus.”
“I took four optional Global Modular Courses (GMCs) during the program, including courses on Finance in the Middle East and North Africa, Venture Capital and Entrepreneurial Management in Silicon Valley, and Managing Organizational Change and the Design of Web-Based Products and Services in San Francisco. I also spent Global Business Week (GBW) in Argentina, learning about doing business in a turbulent environment. These unique experiences allowed me to engage with business leaders around the world and learn first-hand from their experiences.”
“The Mack Institute’s Collaborative Innovation Program (CIP) connects students with business leaders and researchers in the study of innovation management and its practical application. Through this program, I worked with EMBA and full-time MBA students on a project for a multinational conglomerate publishing company to conduct industry analysis and build a customer lifetime value model. That was a valuable experience that allowed me to apply my knowledge from classes to solve for a real business challenge.”
Keeping an Open Mind About Career Goals
Sallie came to Wharton with an interest in management consulting, however she kept an open mind as she went through the program and talked with classmates about their functions and industries.
“I was able to talk with several classmates who were experienced consultants to get a better sense of life as a consultant. And I talked with classmates in a variety of industries who essentially served as informal career advisors. They helped me brainstorm, identify my blind spots, and provided advice and connections,” she said.
Sallie also utilized the individual career coaching offered to EMBA students. She had regular check-ins with the director of EMBA career management in San Francisco, Steve Hernandez, who helped her evaluate interests and suggested connections.
“Through this process, I learned that I could develop myself into a strategic finance leader who bridges the domains of strategy and finance, and I discovered that my true passion is helping companies scale and build business strategies through the finance lens,” she said.
Finding New Opportunities
During her second year at Wharton, Sallie joined JPMorgan Chase in New York City as head of business banking sales finance for the Northeast region. Based on the East Coast, Sallie transferred to Wharton’s Philadelphia campus to complete the program.
“It was a great opportunity to double my network and enrich my MBA experience,” she said.
After graduation, Sallie wanted to transition into the tech industry in Silicon Valley, so she joined Walmart Media Group (now named Walmart Connect) as their finance lead to drive digital ad revenue growth for the one-year-old business. “I am truly grateful for having the opportunity to work for a hyper-growth business that operates like a start-up while being backed by the Fortune One Company,” she said.
About a year later – during the pandemic – Wharton opened doors to more opportunities. After evaluating multiple offers, she decided to join LinkedIn as a strategic financial advisor, leading the company’s global marketing performance strategy and helping drive business growth through marketing acquisition channels.
“I’m excited about this opportunity to join LinkedIn in creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. I am always passionate about working for an innovative and mission-driven company that makes a direct impact on people’s lives. Wharton’s EMBA program helped me achieve this career goal not only with the education, but also the credentials and network,” she said.
Reflecting on ROI
As for ROI, Sallie said, “It is tremendous – not just in terms of career trajectory or compensation, but also the Wharton network. It is something that you cannot monetize, but it will certainly become an asset with endless upside. I miss my two years at Wharton and would do this program again in a heartbeat.”
Read more about the benefits of Wharton’s bicoastal program.
— By Meghan Laska
Posted: March 29, 2021