When Nicole Garcia returned to school to get her EMBA, the move came with a steep learning curve. “I wasn’t a business major as an undergrad, and there was an 18-year separation between completing my undergrad — I have a degree in communications — and I had never taken a business course before,” she remembers. “So are there things, a-ha moments, that I got out of the EMBA? Yeah, I think the critical thinking was a huge part. But also, things like finance: Now I can read the Wall Street Journal and understand what people are talking about, and I can sit in a conversation and add something to it instead of nodding politely.”
A native New Yorker, Nicole worked in the hotel business for 20 years, travelling all over the country before eventually finding her way to Arizona. Knowing that an MBA was on her long-term plan, she began investigating the W. P. Carey EMBA program. Upon completion of the program in 2014, she joined the school as its executive director of corporate relations.
“It’s a new position,” Nicole explains, “and it stems from the dean’s belief that we’re only as strong as our corporate partnerships. What do our engagements look like, what do our relationships look like, are we doing the right things by our client base? So I get to spend my time dealing with a lot of questions that come out that: Who are we interacting with, how are we engaging them, are we introducing and educating them to all the opportunities if they partner with W. P. Carey, do they recognize that there’s so much to us more beyond recruiting all the great talent that comes out of our school?”
Nicole says her new role also reinforces the need and value of a strong alumni network, one of the key takeaways she received from the EMBA program. “I don’t know if I ever would have interacted with a group of people like that without the EMBA. You don’t really get how important that network is until you’ve completed the program. Looking back on it now, you just think, ‘My goodness, look at all the people I stay connected with.’”
Underscoring that a big part of any alumni network is the school itself, Nicole has some words of advice for her fellow EMBA graduates. “Staying connected keeps your education alive,” she says, pointing out that alums can come back and take a class again to sharpen their skills, interact with current cohorts, or sit in on the EMBA speaker series to find new strategies for success.
“The EMBA is its own special entity and it has its own special feel,” Nicole says. “So continuing to find ways to stay in contact and get together now and then keeps that network alive.”