IE Brown Executive MBA

Cherise O'Kennedy '20

Artificial Intelligence Product Management Leader, Workday

Biography

How did the IE Brown Executive MBA affect you personally and professionally?

The IE Brown has had transformative impact on me in many ways. As a leader the program deepened my analytical and critical thinking skills where I am able to quickly grasp complex business, social or technical issues faster. (A goal that I had coming into the program) The program also opened my eyes to see the world in a more humanistic way by understanding how humans impacted each other historically, socially and environmentally. As a result of this new way of being in the world allowed me to see how my actions and decisions would provide me the skills to lead and be a change agent in a business and personal setting.

I was also blown away by the caliber of people in my cohort. Everyone was very successful with a track record of achieving success in their respective fields. It was humbling and a privilege to be able to have the opportunity to learn and grow from them. My cohort along with program management and faculty made me feel, that I was not just a student but I belonged to a community. Each residential period deepened the personal connections and community. That feeling of community never ends once the program finishes because of the friendships gained and strong alumnae network. Everyone in the network wants to help each other thereby strengthening the IE Brown community and brand. Through this network I have had more job opportunities and business ventures to partner in than prior to the program.

What specific goals did you set out to achieve as a student of the EMBA program?

I wanted to become a more critical thinker where I was able to communicate and support complex business issues with depth and analysis. Because of the rich curriculum with courses such as Slavery and the History of Capitalism and Space, Place and Time, Health Disparities, Ethnographic Research and Natural Collections (which is about Climate Change) I have been able to more clearly articulate points that include complex human and societal issues. I have gained interest in ESG and am now a board of director on an ESG management consulting firm. Then because of the entrepreneurship curriculum, I am a founder in one start up with classmates from the program and a founding member of another business venture I started during the program.

Were the online classes a challenge? What was networking like in such a digital environment?

I enjoyed the flexibility of the online classes because it gave me the flexibility and time to complete assignments, projects, and online forums while managing a family and working full time. Because there were in person residential periods there was an opportunity to network face to face which helped create the connections necessary that facilitated completing classes digitally. The combination of the two, in person and online allowed students to get to know and learn from each other where students could develop their own unique brand whether online or in person.

What drove you to choose the IE Brown joint program? How did you find the program?

I chose the IE Brown MBA because of its focus on the social sciences and humanities and entrepreneurship. I already had a strong business background being a Chartered Professional Accountant and a technologist so I was drawn to how the humanities and social sciences intersected with business and society would make me a better business leader. I was also interested in entrepreneurship because one of the goals I had from the program was to meet classmates who were interested in starting a business venture together as well as vetting another business venture where I was involved.

Please describe any specific career outcomes you were looking for post-EMBA and if the program helped you meet them.

One of the goals I had from the program was to meet classmates who were interested in starting a business venture together as well as vetting another business venture where I was involved. I have achieved both.

How has the program shaped your career trajectory?

I wanted to become a more critical thinker where I was able to communicate and support complex business issues with depth and analysis. Because of the rich curriculum with courses such as Slavery and the History of Capitalism and Space, Place and Time, Health Disparities, Ethnographic Research and Natural Collections (which is about Climate Change) I have been able to more clearly articulate points that include complex human and societal issues. I have gained interest in ESG and am now a board of director on an ESG management consulting firm. Then because of the entrepreneurship curriculum, I am a founder in one start up with classmates from the program and a founding member of another business venture I started during the program.

Describe the residential weeks and how they complemented the online portion of the program.

Because there were in person residential periods there was an opportunity to network face to face which helped create the connections necessary that facilitated completing classes digitally. The combination of the two, in person and online allowed students to get to know and learn from each other where students could develop their own unique brand whether online or in person.

If you attended the week in Cape Town, please describe the week

The Cape Town experience was the highlight of the program because students were able to use all parts of their learning and apply it to real world wicked problems. Also, Cape Town is a beautiful city rich with history, incredible landscapes and ocean and unreal food and wine. Also, it was great way for each team to create deeper relationships and connections as they solved the problem assigned to them.

The Key Reflection Project is where the program culminates. Please tell us about your experience.

The KRP was another best part of the program, I was able to see all classes come together in my culiminating project. I saw then how the curriculums about business and society are used to solve complex issues. The KRP was another best part of the program, I was able to see all classes come together in my culiminating project. I saw then how the curriculums about business and society are used to solve complex issues.

Any additional feedback, quotes or info you would like to include?

The IE Brown Executive MBA has changed me both personally and professionally”, said Cherise O’Kennedy, a recent graduate of the program. “By challenging my thinking to help me become a deeper and more critical thinker, I’ve come to look at business as having a social purpose, and to be more reflective of the intersection business and social purpose within making critical business decisions.”