Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School will award its first Professional MBAs Friday (May 9) to students who earned their degrees at the school’s CITYCENTRE location in Houston. All 36 students who began in the program in 2012 will graduate at the university’s commencement ceremonies in College Station.
The Professional MBA (PMBA) program is designed for working professionals who want to continue their careers while earning master’s degrees in business. The program features Friday night and Saturday classes on alternating weekends so participants can stay in their current careers without interruption.
According to Michael Alexander, Professional MBA program director, this first graduating class will have a lasting impact on the program. “They were the early adopters, willing to set sail on a new ship while the finishing touches of construction on that ship were still being completed,” he notes. “These students helped create their own education by bringing their professional experience and diverse backgrounds to classroom discussions; they've set standards and traditions that will live in the program in perpetuity.”
One of Friday’s program graduates is Colby Ross, an engineering supervisor who earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M in 2004. Ross says he joined the program because he’d like to own a business one day. “I have a good view of the entire company from the engineering department, however, I only had the perspective of an engineer. I want to one day start my own business and to do that, I need to understand the CEO’s perspective.”
Ross says he gained valuable skills and experience from the program that he’s taken back to his current job. “I’m better able to understand my manager’s desires from my work, and his boss’s expectations, and so on, up the chain of command,” he explains. “I now have knowledge and tools to raise issues to our executives, and they value my input.”
The Professional MBA program emphasizes learning that takes students outside the classroom and into real-world experiences, says Alexander, such as the Capstone Consulting Project in which students work with a real-world client to identify a problem or opportunity and develop an approach to produce actionable results.
During the required International Business Policy course, students attend a one-week international field trip during the summer; the class went to Budapest, where they toured manufacturing facilities, learned about the country’s business operations, and participated in a community service project working with the blind. “The experience emphasizes changing markets and provides students with new viewpoints on the global nature of business,” says Alexander, adding the service project gave students a taste of the Aggie core value of “selfless service.”
And PMBA students get to visit one of the world’s foremost disaster training locations, Disaster City Emergency Services Training Institute at Texas A&M’s flagship campus in College Station. “In a daylong crisis management exercise, the students work with classmates through a sequence of crisis scenarios, from natural disasters to corporate PR dilemmas,” Alexander explains.
Another upcoming PMBA graduate, Kortnee Ellingburg, earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting at Mays in 2006 and currently works in Houston as an accounting manager of reporting for an offshore drilling contractor. “I chose to join the Professional MBA Program because it would differentiate my experience and allow me to broaden my skill-set outside of technical accounting, all while maintaining my full-time employment and career progression,” she says, adding one of her favorite parts of the experience was the trip to Budapest. “We learned so much about their emerging market and their culture.”
Mays’ CITYCENTRE campus opened in the West Houston corridor in 2012 with the goal of providing a range of business programs, as well as executive-quality space for meetings, conferences and events. “Today, CITYCENTRE is home not only to the Professional MBA program, but also the Executive MBA program, executive education courses, a new Master of Science in Analytics and other academic enrichment programs for the Houston community,” Alexander notes.
He says the facility also gives Houston Aggies a new home: “Whether hosting a professional event, business meeting, training, reception, or other business or social needs, our new facility in Houston brings Aggieland a bit closer.”