Alumni profile - Denise M Reese
'equip myself with the relevant skills to speak about technology in real business terms. In essence, I knew I had to move from being a tactical to a strategic thinker.'
- Denise M. Reese, Global Relationship Manager, Wipro Technologies, United States
What motivated you to think about taking an MBA?
I realised that in order to continue on the career fast-track, I needed to create a competitive edge for myself. As a Technology Sales Professional, I also saw that decisions regarding Technology spend with my Large Enterprise Customers was evolving. Technology decisions suddenly catapulted from being solely about the 'bits and bytes' to becoming an enabler to solving business problems. I quickly realised that I had to adapt to this change in the market and equip myself with the relevant skills to speak about technology in real business terms. In essence, I knew I had to move from being a tactical to a strategic thinker.
Why did you choose Henley?
I chose Henley after researching multiple schools during my stay in the United Kingdom. As a US citizen, it was important to choose a program that had accreditations that would be recognised in the United States as well as the UK and Europe. I also had a very good friend and colleague who started their MBA journey at Henley. I was impressed by how excited she was about the program and used her experience to gauge if The Henley MBA was right for me. Henley's legacy of excellence in practical business management education was also integral to my decision.
How far are you into the programme?
I completed my MBA in July, 2008
What are your highlights so far?
The personal growth and development is a major highlight. Going through the MBA was one of the most difficult but rewarding journey's I've been on to date. I realised I'm much stronger than I give myself credit for sometimes, and capable of stretching far beyond the limitations I often put on myself. Getting a true international perspective to the business world is also a highlight of my MBA experience. Lastly, I'd have to say the relationships I fostered with colleagues in my intake have become long lasting friendships that I will treasure for years to come.
What have been the greatest challenges?
Managing the workload of the MBA with the stress of a demanding full-time job was hard. I have a hectic travel schedule and it was often difficult to manage my MBA commitment with commitments to my customers and employer. Also, dealing with family and personal issues presents other challenges. As I approached the dissertation component of the program, this is when I really felt the pressure! At this stage, you really have to maintain discipline because you no longer have the structure of meeting with your group or scheduled lectures to keep you on track. Although the balancing act was challenging, it is manageable.
Tips for managing your studies alongside work/personal life?
The key to managing studies with your personal life is to prioritise, prioritise, prioritise! It's also important to maintain communication with those closest to you. Setting expectations at the onset is imperative. From a work perspective, it's paramount to have the buy-in and support of your employer before making the commitment to the MBA. In my case, I was a FEMBA participant which meant leaving the office early on Tuesdays and Thursdays to get to lectures along with weekend trips, residentials at the main campus and of course, the International Business Trip. Planning ahead is key and can work to your benefit when coupled with good time management skills.
'My performance at work has benefitted tremendously. I'm able to speak comfortably at all levels - from CXO to practitioner. I am also fully equipped to marry technology with business value.'
Tips on being a successful flexible learner?
My syndicate group played a huge role in my success as a FEMBA participant. Through the camaraderie with my group members, I realised the importance of appreciating different view points, perspectives, strengths and weaknesses. None of us is an island unto ourselves, and everyone has something significant to add to the group experience. I also realised the importance of not taking myself too seriously. It's easy to rest on ones own laurels once you've experienced a level of success in your career, however it's important to realise that the playing field is level and everyone is a part of the MBA Program for the same reason - to learn and to grow.
How has your performance at work changed since you started?
My performance at work has benefitted tremendously. I'm able to speak comfortably at all levels - from CXO to practitioner. I am also fully equipped to marry technology with business value. Having this skill set translates into a better overall experience with my employer and most importantly, my customers.
What have been your greatest achievements since starting?
My greatest achievements were dropping off the leather bound copy of my dissertation to Henley followed by getting the letter stating I'd passed my MBA. Although I didn't attend the graduation ceremony in person, getting my degree in the post was confirmation that all my hard work paid off!
Advice to those thinking about studying an MBA at Henley?
Take the time to really assess if you're ready for the MBA journey. It's a huge commitment and it's important to ensure you have the support of friends, family, and colleagues before starting the program. Be realistic about your current and future obligations and plan accordingly. Most importantly, have an open mind and be ready to be challenged on multiple fronts. It's not an easy journey by any stretch of the imagination, but it's one of the most rewarding experiences you'll ever have. Look at the MBA as an investment in your personal brand. You'll come out of the program with a new found appreciation for who you are and what you're truly capable of.
What are you hoping for when you have finished your MBA?
I'm hoping to continue on the path of both personal and professional growth. I've already experienced a fair amount of success in my career, but I'd like to see this expand to hopefully becoming an entrepreneur sometime in the not too distant future!