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MBA Has Big Costs But Big Payoffs, too

(page 5 of 5)

The Longtime Leader:
Same Job, New Vision

The MBA helps make you nimble, says Maj. Gen. Darryll Wong, commander of about 2,500 men and women in the Hawaii Air National Guard. And business today – no matter what kind – requires nimbleness.

At 57, with a well-established career, Wong went back to school at UH-Manoa for an Executive MBA, graduating in May. It was something he had always wanted to do – and a crucial component of keeping him ahead of the curve in a changing world. He was in school as the economy plunged – and was able to analyze changes in a whole new way. Wong has no intention of changing careers, but wants to grow the Air Guard. He felt the MBA would help.

“You need to be versatile to adapt to change and then strategically come up with a vision to take advantage of those changes,” he says. “When you come up with a vision, you have to be able to lead people to that vision. The MBA can help give you skills to do both.”

The Strategic Chief:
Changing Direction

For Dr. Virginia Pressler, executive vice president for strategic business development for Hawaii Pacific Health, a consortium of four hospitals, getting an MBA more than three decades ago, while she was working at Bank of Hawaii, created the lynchpin for an entire change of direction.

“It was worth it for me,” says Pressler, who later earned an M.D. and then moved into healthcare management. “I was seeking more knowledge about finance and business and economics and broader issues related to my work and the bank encouraged me.

“If you do it to make more money, that’s not a good reason. People with advanced degrees in general get paid better than those without. But for me that’s not a good motivating reason.

“I could see the immediate application of the classes I was taking, how strategic decisions are made by looking at a systems approach, and understanding the broader context of the financial community. It’s not just a job, but something intellectually stimulating. It gets you more invested and engaged and involved in your work.”

The Ph.D. Student:
Coming Back for More

Michelle Harada is finishing her MBA capstone project at Argosy University, but she’s not done. Before she can dust off her mortar board, she’ll be on to the doctoral program in business – another four or five years and probably another $40,000 to add to the $20,000 in loans she’s already accumulated. She’s also about to launch two businesses and hopes to teach college someday.

“When I do my research for my business, I can do a complete analysis, understand consumer behavior, cost structure, how much you need to break even. Then you can forecast your sales for the next five years.”

Says Harada: “Wherever I can, I’ve been applying what I’ve learned.”


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